Royal East is really two different restaurants - Cantonese and American Chinese. The American Chinese food is inexpensive, the proportions large. If you like fried rice, egg rolls and stir fry join the throngs of MIT students and city workers for lunch. Good value, but nothing special. \r
However, the Cantonese food is excellent, the best in Cambridge, and for some dishes, the best in Boston. The seafood is very fresh, lightly flavored and healthy. Recommended: Salt and pepper scallops, steamed fish with ginger and scallion, Dungeness crab with rice noodles, Chinese wine and egg whites. There are usually several seasonal vegetables. Call a day ahead and order barbecued squab, chef's special lamb chops or chef special flounder with Chinese ham. \r
The perfect meal for two is salt and pepper scallops followed by a roast squab (ask for medium rare) and finished with steamed rice, vegetables and a bean curd dish. \r
Most of the waiters have limited English, but they can recommend dishes and unlisted specials. If possible ask for suggestions from the owner, Otto Chan. He is a gastronome and tea man. Royal East is a favorite entertainment venue for a number of departments at MIT and Harvard. It has a short but well chosen wine list with many excellent values. This is a good place for banquets.\r
And, by the way, the restaurant is very clean, quieter than Chinatown and has good background music.
Pros: Fresh ingredients, real Cantonese cuisine, quiet, good wine list
Cons: You have to know about Chinese food to order well