Matt and Cat\'s Isle of Wight Eating Out Guide
Late on a wet Sunday evening on the last day of the summer season, Matt and Cat imagined they’d be lucky to find anywhere...
Royal China, Sandown

Late on a wet Sunday evening on the last day of the summer season, Matt and Cat imagined they’d be lucky to find anywhere to eat in Sandown that wasn’t closed or nearly empty. So the bright lights of the Royal China were a welcome sight. Even when much of the rest of the High Street was putting up the shutters this stylish Chinese restaurant was bustling with customers.

Matt and Cat were courteously greeted and shown to a luxuriously-appointed table in the interior of the restaurant. Soft carpet, not laminate floor, complemented the quiet and sophisticated décor. Linen tablecloths and ornately-folded linen napkins adorned the spacious table, which also boasted fresh flowers and lacquered wooden chopsticks – not disposable ones. The Royal China managed to impress before the food was even on the table.

A quick glance through the neatly bound menu revealed no surprises except an unusual seasonal seafood section with lobster and sea-bass. Passing over this Matt and Cat decided to splash out on starters, and chose crispy seaweed and sesame prawn toast; followed by main courses of chicken and cashew nuts for Cat, and beef with green pepper and black bean sauce for Matt.

Both courses came at exactly the right time – and indeed this was typical of the outstanding service at the Royal China. A host of courteous and friendly staff were in attendance but somehow never managed to intrude. The wait was never too long, nor was anything rushed.

The ornately-dressed plate even featured an intricate little Chinese figurine made out of salt dough.

The seaweed and prawn toast was tasty and up to the mark. The toast came with a token salad garnish featuring an ornately-carved radish – impressive presentation. However whilst awaiting the main course Matt and Cat saw a sight that eclipsed their puny radish – a couple of businessmen eating on a nearby table had elected to share a lobster platter, which was carried out to them with no small ceremony. This good-looking dish was colossal, came with no end of bowls and implements, and the ornately-dressed plate even featured an intricate little Chinese figurine made (as the helpful waitress explained on request) out of salt dough. Whilst seafood is not really Matt and Cat’s forte, they could not fail to be impressed by the panache of this audacious dish.

Their appetites well-whetted, Matt and Cat were pleased when the main courses arrived and they set to. Both proved to be excellent, and the decent portions of fried rice were particularly good. Matt’s beef was delightfully tender, and the subtly-flavoured sauce was not overwhelmed by the salty black beans. Cat’s chicken with cashews was well-doused in sweet hoi-sin based sauce, but retained enough texture to be a well-balanced dish.

When the bill came, it was more than reasonable for such great service and a splendid meal. For a quick, value chinese the Hong Kong Express still reigns supreme, but Matt and Cat strolled out of the Royal China satisfied that they had discovered the best high-class Chinese restaurant on the Island.

  • Darren Weeks says:

    the food was very expensive, service bad, they obviously rely on their reputation – NOT VERY GOOD AT ALL! DONT EAT THERE!

  • da yw wyth says:

    Went tonight for the first time, and a great experience, once the only other ear-in diner had finished his very loud mobile phone conversation and left! Service was exemplary, and food beautifully prepared – the veg had that special crisp quality that is the hallmark of properly-cooked food.

    Yes, the price is a bit steep, but the portions were generous. What I had (an order that at most restaurants would produce a modest meal) here would have probably been enough for two. I certainly realised I didn’t need a starter. Rivals a famous Newport pub for amount served, and that is saying something!!

  • Looby says:

    Went to the Royal China last night and it was lovely. All staff attentive, kind and courteous. Food good as always, there was no problem with the bill yes the menu choices were written in chinese but the number attributed to each choice was also clearly written as was the price. The place was packed which was brilliant to see on a cold January night, all in all a very pleasant way to spend the evening………….

  • Andrew says:

    For several years I have been a customer of Lee’s Kitchen which is just around the corner from Royal China. I do not live on the Island. In the winter months Lee is closed on Mondays, I fancied a chinese so thought I would order exactly the same items as I always do from Mr Lee. The difference was marked, not only a total of just under £2 more (for two items) but the quality was so poor that I ate about a quarter of the food and put the rest in the bin. I will never return to this place. I have advised all the customers of my guest house my views of this establishment.
    Try Lee’s Kitchen for an alternative.

  • Neil (Local) says:

    I would of invited them to call the police Anna, you are fully entitled to have the bill in English.

  • anna says:

    utterly utterly awful. 3 of us went in for a sit down meal. the woman looked at us in contempt and placed us near the door. we ordered 3 courses, and the starter and mains came out at the same time. the food was good. the woman stood next to us when we were about 3/4 way through our meals and then as we took our last mouthful took our plates away. our desserts came up quickly and were again, very nice. then came the bill. for roughly £110. for 3 of us. we had had one drink each. the bill was written in chinese which none os us could read. i asked for a copy of it in english as i was really really sure the price was wrong, whereupon the woman refused. i asked her how i would know if the price was right and she basically told me she would phone the police if we refused to pay. disgusted, i paid, left no tip and left. the food was nice, but draw your own conclusions about the service!!!

  • Dave says:

    Tried the Royal China on a saturday night in August 2010. Nice restaurant nice food served very quick which is pretty much the norm for most chinese restaurants, and something the rest of the Isle of Wight’s restaurants/eating establishments should take note of. We ate there a second time during our holiday and although we had pretty much the same food as our previous visit the bill came to considerably more. When I mentioned this to the lady who seemed to be the owner she told me it was right even though it was written in chinese. As for the paying or non paying using credit cards this is something that seems to happen in a few places across the Isle of Wight. In La Scala Sandown we were told before we sat down that we would have to pay cash because their card machine was down. This was told to the next people who came in so they just turned round and walked out. Do these restaurants do this to save paying commission on card transactions?

  • Chris says:

    Their takeaway menu is on does anyone want to submit a more current menu?

  • John Watkin Bakewell says:

    My wife and I dined there for our 47th wedding anniversary and the food was excellent.
    The waiters very friendly and professional.
    Good value for money. Highly recommended.

  • Rob Nicholson says:


  • Tracy says:

    Had great food on our last visit but were shocked by the price increases. £21 per person for any of the set menus, the average price of a meat dish is around £9. Not sure whether the prices have been hiked up for the summer but it has put us off returning! A set meal for four in Lee’s Kitchen is £34 cheaper!

  • Looby says:

    We love the Royal China, food is always lovely, set menus are good value and the service is a delight

  • Jan says:

    Tried the set lunch menu a few weeks ago. Fantastic value. Recommended

  • Tracy says:

    Just one question, why is most of the food orange or red? Sit down meal far, far outweighed the takeaway!

  • Breda and Tony says:

    We ate here during recent holiday and had set meal for two. Mixed starters were fantastic, duck very good but the main courses were a bit disappointing. Overall, we enjoyed it and service was excellent.

  • James and Jessica says:

    I totally agree too. The food is great.

    We still prefer Lee’s Kitchen to the Royal China.

    We tried China China but it upset Jame’s Stomach so we are not going there again.

    Jessica and James

  • Trevor Young says:

    I totally agree with your comments!! The Royal China is the best Chinese on the Island by far and deserves it’s reputation.

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