Princess Garden

8-10 North Audley Street, London, England, W1K 6ZD, United Kingdom

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The Princess Garden of Mayfair is one of those stealth restaurants in London that hardly ever gets any media attention, yet it has been trading successfully since 1983. Just north of Grosvenor Square, its smartly decorated room seats 80 diners, with two additional private dining rooms available. The dining room had several wooden screens separating some of the tables, which are covered in white linen tabelcloths and napkins. In the evening there was a lengthy menu covering different regional dishes, though the restauramt notionally specialises in Peking cuisine. I went for lunch so opted for the dim sum menu, which the restaurant is noted for, and was much cheaper than the à la carte.

Har gau (£2.90) was the classic steamed prawn dumplings, served in a bamboo steamer. The prawns were carefully cooked, though the dumpling itself was not quite as light as some (13/20). The best dish was a trio of char sui buns (£2.80), light and airy, with a filling of slightly sweet pork. Lesser versions of this in Chinatown have poor quality, gristly fillings, but the pork here was very good (14/20).

Glutinous rice (£3.90) in a lotus leaf was also much better than many of the versions you will find in London. The rice grains were well-defined, the meat filling rich and nicely seasoned (13/20). Pan-fried Peking dumplings (£2.90) were perhaps the least good dish but still entirely pleasant. Inside a fried bun was a minced pork and cabbage filling that for me needed more seasoning, and a little liquid stock that emerges when you bite into the bun (12/20).

Unlimited jasmine tea cost just £1.50, a bargain these days. The bill for four dishes plus tea was just £16.10 including service, which seemed very reasonable to me. Whilst I think Royal China still has the edge, and Yauatcha are Hakkasan are better still, this is nonetheless high quality dim sum, and at a very fair price.

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