Princess Garden: Traditional Chinese at its best (January 2015)

Princess Garden is a Mayfair stalwart, having been located in this spot for as long as I can remember. This certainly isn’t Hakassan and nor does it have the related pretensions. However, if you are after solidly reliable and pretty tasty Cantonese style food, you would be hard to find better, even in Chinatown or Bayswater. While the clientele on our recent evening visit comprised a somewhat curious mix of business people and tourists, the main reason for coming here is certainly the food. Diners get to choose from a wide range of dishes with the menu laid out in a fairly obvious fashion, and a large section dedicated to special dishes. Beyond the inevitable deliberation over what to choose, when our food did arrive, we were certainly impressed. My soft-shell crab was wonderfully tender and juicy, enhanced by a subtle salting and overlay of chillies. My comrades also praised the quality of the satay sauce and the crispness of the fried seaweed. Our mains received similar plaudits and again the pervasive impression was of well-cooked food heightened by a judicious combination of spices. My Szechuan pork with green beans was a good as I have eaten anywhere. Vegetable sides of pak-choi and aubergine (recommended by our server) were also first-class. Given the size of the location, Princess Garden does somewhat fall down in terms of intimacy and the atmosphere is such that one is not inclined to linger. Moreover, service is generally brisk rather than personal. At roughly £50/head, pricing is reasonable, particularly by Mayfair standards, although we did stick to beer rather than wine. Definitely worth a visit if traditional Chinese is what you’re after in the area.