Royal China Awards
Restaurant review: Royal China
Published in Texas Monthly: June 2009
Take a crispy flattened wonton, spread generously with a mixture of diced onion, celery, red bell pepper, and avocado spiced up with Asian mustard; then top with shrimp and cilantro leaves. We salivate now just remembering what a great dish it was (a bit like a Chinese chalupa). Just as appealing was the stir-fried Mongolian beef with scallions on crisp vermicelli. Wonderful black and white photos line the red and white walls. Bar.
Restaurant review: Royal China
Published in The Dallas Morning News: 04.17.09
At Royal China, you can almost trace the evolution of Chinese dining in Dallas. The Preston-Royal restaurant has been in the same location and run by the same family for 35 years.
Dishes such as sweet-sticky barbecued spareribs and crisped, chewy dry-stirred beef have been on the menu since the late Shu-Chang "Buck" Kao, a fresh arrival from Hunan after a stay in Taiwan, opened the restaurant in 1974. You can also spot trendy later additions, such as lettuce wraps, Buck's once-innovative combination of minced chicken, water chestnuts and crisp rice noodles in hoisin-smeared iceberg leaves that tastes pretty tame today.
Last year, son George, who runs the restaurant now, catapulted Royal China ahead of the curve by installing a dumpling bar, where patrons can sit sushi-bar-style and watch as the delicate pockets are hand-formed to order by two Chinese "dumpling ladies," Yu-Xia Zhong and Hwa-Juan Shen.
See the full Review Here.
D Magazine - March 2009
Revisit: Royal China
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.
Asian Restaurant News
Success Story - January 2009
Royal China, The Emperors's
New Dining Establishment
The ancient Chinese dynasties from the Han to Ming knew exactly what splendor and royalty meant when it came to costume, decoration, the applied arts and lastly, food and its gorgeous presentation. Creative and groundbreaking are words that come to mind when looking at the plethora of rich original cuisine emanating from the land of China. China indeed was the first land to invent sauce and all types of refined cooking methods. Today when one visits Mainland China, traveling from north to south and east to west, it is mind boggling to encounter the array of foods and the abundant availability in all categories.
Likewise in Dallas, Texas, one of the finest rooms to serve Mandarin, Szechwan and Hunan cuisine belie the sensuous traditions of yore with a gorgeous room fit for an emperor and empress. Buck Kao, a retired colonel of the Chinese government, established Royal China in 1974.
Download the full PDF Article Here.
Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the USA - 2008
The Top 100 Overall Excellence Award
Chinese restaurateurs from across the nation will gather in Las Vegas on January 5, 2009 at the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino to attend the 5th Annual Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the USA Awards Show and Conference. Organized by Chinese Restaurant News, the Top 100 Awards Show is a national event that strives to recognize, cultivate and preserve the best in Chinese cuisine.
The Top 100 Overall Excellence award signifies the competition's highest honor. Recognition will also be given to excellence in other categories such as Regional Cuisine, Take-Out, Buffets, Best Decor, Signature Dishes, Rising Stars, Healthy Menus, Asian Fusion and Local Favorites. The Top 100 competition is open to all Chinese restaurants in the U.S. Participating restaurants include newly established restaurants, seasoned restaurants, chain restaurants and past award-winners.
Dallas Observer 2008 - Best Iconic Eatery Makeover
No doubt about it, the Preston Royal mainstay since 1974 needed a sprucing up; no matter the quality of the food, always high and occasionally top-notch, the place felt and smelled its age. Not even a sneak peek at the plans for the redo could have prepared us for what we found upon the eatery's reopening in late August, following a two-month shutdown. The place feels absolutely modern-marble and steel and glass, all polished to perfection. But even better is the updated menu, which brims with dumpling specialties and tea choices that have turned Dallas' most beloved Chinese restaurant into a dim-sumptuous alternative to our former fave Maxim, way up in Richardson's Chinatown and now off the menu when we need a quick fix of Far East cuisine closer to home. And the regulars have spoken: The place is more packed now than ever before. Thank God there's now a full bar right inside the door, so we can sake before we sup.
D Magazine Neighborhood Find
In 1973, Shu-Chan "Bucky" Kao, a native of Hunan, China, retired after 30 years as a Chinese diplomat. He loaded up his family and landed In Preston Royal Shopping Center to start a second career as a restaurateur. A fixture on the Dallas dining scene until he retired five years ago, Bucky was either at the front door greeting you or standing beside a table chatting with customers, in the late '70s, Royal China was a happening spot. Pictures of local and national celebrities scrawled with gushing remarks still line the walls behind the cash register. As the Dallas dining scene shifted, Royal China morphed into the consummate neighborhood Chinese restaurant. After Bucky retired, his son George and daughter-in-law April took over the restaurant. Bucky passed away in May 2001, but his solid menu of Chinese dishes dotted with red (denoting hot) asterisks is still top rate. Kick your "spring roll starter" syndrome-all of the appetizers, including Buck's Dan-Dan Noodles with minced pork and smoked tofu, are above average. If calories don't count, the sun-dried orange chicken is a splurge worth an extra hour on the Stairmaster. Favorites such as Kung Pao chicken, Mongolian beef, and Szechuan string beans with pork are flavorful and the vegetables are crunchy in all the right places. - Nancy Nichols
Dallas Observer 2003 - Best Chinese Restaurant
Three things you can never get people to agree on: whether Polyphonic Spree is gimmick or salvation, just what is the best advertorial in the history of D magazine and who has the best Chinese food in town. Everyone has his fave, and though we've tried many, many of them (August Moon, P.F. Chang's and others rank high on the list), we can't tell you whether this Preston Royal Shopping Center eatery is definitively the all-time greatest. We can, however, inform you that the best dishes here are some of the best dishes anywhere and in any cuisine; dare you to find prawns more fearsomely flavorful than the General Shrimp, which commands a mighty plate. Same goes for the dry-stirred beef, which whets our appetite and then some. Royal China's also expanding its menu to include edamame and cold, rice-paper-wrapped spring rolls--a little Japan and Thailand, in other words. Owner George Kao, who runs the place papa Buck opened years ago, and wife April make every stranger feel like friend and every friend feel like family. One thing's for sure--you will not find a friendlier restaurant in Dallas.
Dallas Observer 2002 - Best Chinese Food Mainstay That Never Gets Old
We'll admit it: We're partial to this place because it's one of the few places--OK, the only place--in town where we feel, well, a little special. Not that we are or anything (even our own mama tells us we're not daily), but Kai-Chi Kao, known to regulars as "George," has a way of making us feel like Dean Martin at Musso & Frank's; he's there to welcome friend and stranger alike with a hearty how-do, and the waitstaff never forgets a name, face or favorite drink (ours is sake, more please). Kai-Chi, whose poppa Buck founded the joint in 1974, is hip to everything that makes an eatery divine: amazing food (do not miss the general shrimp, as crispy as it is sweet, or the dry-stirred beef, which we swear is a dessert), warm atmosphere (kitschy, but whimsically so) and rock-crit-cool music (Kai-Chi has the best CD collection this side of, well, us). And this is how we know Royal China deserves a Best Of: Every time we take people there, they always return without us--which we don't take personally, at all.
Dallas Morning News Restaurant Review - By Lawson Taitte
Royal China has been around forever -- owner-host Buck Kao has been hovering over guests and taking pains to make them welcome here for more than 20 years. But the food has never been better than right now.
It had been a long time since we tried shrimp with sizzling rice soup anywhere -- those crunchy little clusters, with a texture like Rice Krispies. have gone out of menu fashion. But when the bowl we ordered ($7.9S for a large portion, serves four. $4.98 for a small, serves two) came to the table, not only did the rice sizzle and pop with joy, but the big shrimp were tender and succulent.
For main courses we ordered entirely off the page of the menu devoted to chef's specials -- they run about two dollars higher than the general run of dishes here. We were rewarded with a superb meal.
The description of "dry stir beef" ($9.95) makes It sound something like orange beef, but the solicitous server assured us that the sauce was different. So was the texture of the beef, it turned out -- the pieces were cut smaller, so it's an easier dish to manage. The "different sauce," a bit sweet, a bit sour, with just a hint of pepper, set off the crunchy tidbits of beef perfectly.
Fragrant duck ($10.95 for half a fowl) is clearly a cousin of the crispy Sichuan duck served at so many places. But the flesh breathes more aromatically of spices, and the deep-frying hasn't rendered the basic duck taste unrecognizable.
It's always interesting to sample an invention a restaurant puts its name on, and chicken Royal ($9.95) didn't disappoint. The shiitake mushrooms, broccoli and red pepper made a carnival contrast to the white breast meat in its subtle wine sauce. Shrimp with black bean sauce ($8.95) proved equally subtle -- the strong-tasting fermented beans had been stirred in with a gentle hand.
Another thing that singles out Royal China besides the food is its decor. Since there's reconstruction going on outside, there's not much walk-up excitement here. And the vinyl booths and chairs look decidedly old-fashioned.
But somebody around here has a visual imagination you don't often see exercised in restaurants. Real works of art -- large pieces created of textiles in all kinds of shapes -- decorate the walls and alcoves. And the private dining room boasts periodic exhibits of artwork. A show by multimedia artist Fay Golson is up through Wednesday.