A couple of weeks ago I met up with my favourite foodies (Thach, Honey, Miho and E) for a taste of China just off the bustle of Oxford Street. Our feasting at Princess Garden of Mayfair marked a special occasion: Thach's birthday! You honestly wouldn't believe how old the guy is if I told you. Seriously, his ageing genes must be non-existent.
First to the table were platters of roast duck and lobster noodles. These are probably my two favourite dishes to order for a Chinese dinner. The roast duck was delicious and beautifully fatty, though I prefer the meat to be deboned more thoroughly. The noodles were especially perfect for the occasion - you absolutely have to order them if you're celebrating a birthday, as their length implies longevity (!) I love the texture of these noodles, but my one quibble with this particular dish was that I wished the waiters had supplied us with lobster picks, as it's just so hard to get the meat out with a fork! Though maybe I'm just greedy...
Next I filled my plate with har gau and soup-filled xiaolongbao. I'm not a huge dumpling connoisseur so all I can report on these is that they were perfectly nice, but nothing to write home about.
The dish that elicited the most appreciative murmurs (and a fair few from me) was the pork belly. This was seriously good - incredibly tender, flavourful meat which fell apart at the merest nudge of my chopsticks. I was tempted to have the whole bowl to myself, but that wouldn't have been very fair on the birthday boy.
Coming from a Chinese family, I'm bound to be extremely picky and more than a little judgmental where it comes to food from the Middle Kingdom. So if I'm to be brutally honest, the standard of the food and service wasn't quite what I'm used to. I've definitely had better Chinese in Bayswater, and at a fraction of the price. However, Chinese food always makes for a wonderfully convivial atmosphere and so Princess Garden definitely fits the bill for a birthday or business dinner!