The best thing about Royal China’s recent redo is the addition of a dumpling bar staffed by the “Dumpling Ladies.” Now you can watch Yu-Xia Zhong, from northeastern China, and Hwa-Juan Shen, from Shanghai, make handmade dumplings in the open kitchen in the middle of the restaurant. While the soup dumpling, xiao-long-bao, is their specialty, this dynamic duo also turns out delicious pan-seared or steamed pork, chicken, shrimp, and vegetable dumplings, along with hand-cut noodles and scallion pancakes. Though the dining room has a new look, the customers are mostly loyal regulars. Many have been eating here since Royal China opened, in 1974. George Kao is the ubiquitous host, and if you’ve dined here once, chances are he will remember your name. (One friend reported that Kao recognized her on a recent visit even though she hadn’t eaten there in five years.) Along with the interior, the quality of the food seems to have been uplifted as well. Classic dishes like Dan Dan noodles with sweet chili and lime sauce, pork sautéed with garlic and mixed vegetables in a spicy brown sauce, and Sichuan string beans are all worthy of being considered some of the best Chinese dishes in town.
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