The Royal 避風塘小炒 (Toronto)

Location: Scarborough, Canada
Address: 3587 Sheppard Avenue East
Type of Meal: Dinner

The Royal is the old school style Chinese restaurant with minimal décor, tightly packed tables and brightly lit neon signs proudly showcasing what customers can expect to eat – fresh seafood. At the very least, be thankful they kept their walls white so all the colours don’t become too overwhelming.

Following the traditional family style restaurants, The Royal also posts bright hand written dishes along the walls. Some of these items are on their menu, with the paper acting to further entice customers, while others added later so are left off the printed menu. Unfortunately, for some dishes we ordered that night it was the later so not all pricing is include below.

A big bowl of complementary pork bone soup is brought out and served. Having been boiled for hours the broth is flavourful but could be hotter.

Afterwards, dishes are presented in quick succession. The sweet and sour pork ($8.95) was delicious containing big chunks of juicy pork, fried crispy and encased in a nice strong sauce.

You really can’t visit this place without having some seafood. Since we had a larger table we ordered their big lobster which was on special for $11.99 a pound; we asked for a smaller one but it was still five pounds. The Royal can prepare it a number of ways – stir fried with green onions & ginger, steamed with garlic or deep fried with chili and salt. We opted for the “bay fung tong” style which is deep fried and then stir fried with a spicy ground beef mixture. All in all, the dish had good flavours and the lobster was plump and sweet.

With the tomalley, the flavourful gooey mixture found in the lobster’s head, a second dish was made by steaming it with egg. This is great for mixing into steamed rice to give it a silky richness. I only wish there was less ginger as the Chef went a bit overboard with it causing me to have to pick some out before eating.

The XO-sauce stir fried fish fillet with vegetables ($9.95) appeared to be a popular dish. The fish may have been frozen as I found the texture a tad soft and not the best quality, but the XO flavours was pronounced and had a great heat to it. Tossed with it were crispy snow peas and celery. A decent dish but for the price I’d suggest going with the seafood bird’s nest instead.

There is more seafood within the bird’s nest ($15.95) - shrimp, squid and scallop. All were in fairly big pieces simply stir fried with more of the customary snow pea and celery. Thankfully, at Royal they still make their bird’s nest with slivers of taro (some restaurants are taking the easy way out and using wonton wrappers instead). But, the taro needs to be shredded thinner as the nest was a tad hard.

For greens we ordered the baby bok choy with enoki mushrooms ($7.45). In the saucy mixture on top there were also slices of Chinese black mushrooms and grated carrots. In all, it was good but could benefit from more salt.

Although arriving piping hot, the deep fried pork chop with chili and salt ($8.95) was only average as the spice mixture didn’t stick to the meat. So, the dish became somewhat lackluster unless you made the effort to spoon some of the spices back on.

Not being a huge fan of the next dish, I skipped with deep fried oyster with green onions in hot pot, but it was happily enjoyed but the rest of the table.

To end, the complementary dessert. Sometimes you’ll get a sweet red bean soup but during our visit it was a plate of sliced oranges – I guess a boost of vitamin C never hurts in the winter time.

The Royal isn’t very big; so, if you don’t make a reservation or arrive early expect a queue. During our Sunday dinner there was a fair amount of patrons waiting for a table. However, food comes out quickly and service is friendly and efficient so no one seemed to have waited long.

In my opinion, it’s by no means the best Chinese restaurant you can go to. So, if you’re going to travel a long distance to eat here save yourself the time and effort. But, it’s a great family friendly location with affordable prices. When in the area, it doesn’t hurt to check it out.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!