Royal Palace is definitely my favorite Chinese restaurant, well, outside of China. This restaurant specializes in Cantonese/Hong Kong fare, and that means you’re treated to fresh produce and ingredients. If you’re into the “fake Chinese” food popularized by chains like Panda Express or Patti’s, you’re not going to get that taste that can only come from thick artificial sauces here. I suppose if I wanted that, I could stay at home and open up a bottle of Lee Kum Kee and slap it on my poor attempts at stirfy. Here, the focus is on freshness and that means a delicate balance between the meats, greens, and sauces. Among their pairings, the seafood is really the star.
I mention again that the seafood is really the star at Royal Palace. In fact, most of my favorite dishes here are seafood. Must tries include Black Bean Clams (a mild balance of clams with the spiciness of black beans and fresh peppers), the Seafood Combination (a light dish of shrimp, scallops, calamari with a medley of mushrooms, snow peas and other vegetables), the Fish Fillet (delicately steamed sea bass with a sort of light shoyu and garnish base), the Honey Walnut Shrimp (mayo-citrus covered shrimp served with honey roasted walnuts), steamed Kumu (when available), and of course their black bean and ginger onion lobsters and crabs (for a special treat, try their “supreme sauce” lobster).
I agree with other reviewers when they say their dinner combination specials are a value. Here, you’re offered three choices from a menu of 38 and your pick of a Dungeness crab or Maine lobster prepared black bean or ginger onion styles, all for under $40.
For the non-seafood fans, my recommendations are the Mongolian Beef, Kau Yuk (pork belly simmered in a shoyu mix), Mushoo Pork (pork and veggies wrapped in soft wrappers), Crispy Chicken, and definitely the Peking Duck, Roast Pork, and Char Siu (better than what you’ll find in Chinatown).
Royal Palace is very casual and draws a mixed local, neighborhood, and Chinese crowd. The decor could use some updating. And some of the waitresses could give better service. But I go for the food and the value. Most of the menu is under $10 for generous portions and you’ll find yourself spending more (for less) elsewhere. You’ll sometimes find the place busy with dinner parties (as they have a number of party courses) or lunch buffets (which I’ll say is a hearty deal). The holidays and before or after games at the stadium tend to bring out the crowds. And the restaurant seems like a great place for a family meal after ice skating at Ice Palace. If you find yourself in the Moanalua/Salt Lake area, definitely eat at this gem.