FOR oriental fare, we’re more than a little spoiled in Aberdeen.
Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese – the Granite City seems to boast a never-ending selection of restaurants and takeaways, offering mouthwatering dishes.
The price you might expect to pay can vary almost as much as the choice of food and the quality. But for my money, The Royal China on Holburn Street is up there with the best of them, providing the perfect balance.
Passers-by can’t help but be attracted by the warm and brightly-lit restaurant, arguably one of the biggest in Aberdeen.
It offers a setting to suit larger parties, families or more intimate gatherings and is a stone’s throw from some of the best pubs in the city.
My wife Karen and I are regulars – and have lost count of the number of times we’ve enjoyed a fantastic dinner there.
It works because they keep it simple: a great and varied menu, attentive but unobtrusive service and delicious food.
We were seated by one of the tables next to the glass frontage, peering out over Holburn Street as the usual Saturday night festivities were getting under way.
I’m actually not a big seafood fan but there’s just something about this place’s salt and pepper calamari – fantastic, and the perfect starter for me.
A great big bowl of spicy, crispy-coated calamari arrived shortly and I munched my way through them without delay.
Karen’s choice of vegetable spring rolls provided large crunchy parcels packed with juicy veg and a chilli dipping sauce, all of which got the thumbs-up.
I’ve tried a fair number of different things from the menu and this time picked the regal-sounding Royal China chilli chicken with egg fried rice, while Karen – who orders the same thing every time (“It’s really fine!”) – picked Chinese vegetables in oyster sauce with noodles. The dishes were accompanied by that most traditional of oriental treats – chips.
I was genuinely impressed – a big platter of chunky chicken in a thick, sweet and spicy sauce that was on the gentle side of hot.
No complaints from Karen means she’ll probably stick with the same tried-and-tested dish next time, even though she wasn’t able to finish the more than ample portion she received.
A large slice each of New York-style cheesecake – creamy and delicious – finished the meal off nicely.
Overall, it was a terrific meal and exactly what I’ve come to expect when dining at The Royal China.