The re-emergence of Royal Villa in Salthill has been greeted enthusiastically by the hundreds of customers who were regulars when the Royal Villa was upstairs in Shop Street for many years. After a gap of three years, during which time Charlie Chan opened a very swish restaurant in Oranmore, he decided to open another Royal Villa close to the centre of town. The new Royal Villa is run by the next generation of the family, Yvonne and soon-to-be husband Jeff are at the helm and it looks like it may be the most successful venture for the Chan family. It is located over the Atlantaquaria in Salthill.
I remember visiting this restaurant previously when it was a seafood restaurant, and while the food was good, the atmosphere was dreadful. This has changed dramatically and there is an instant feeling of ‘good vibrations’ when you enter, and as the Chan family are firm believers in feng shui that is not surprising. The design is pretty eclectic and with a grand piano in the centre of the restaurant there is a really funky feel to the place. One thing that has not changed is the Royal Villa menu; it is largely the same as it was in Shop Street and, judging by the fact that there were 60 or 70 people there on a Thursday night, it seems to be a very wise decision. When I asked Charlie why he did not try something different, he said that his customers wanted the original menu.
There is a midweek menu (Monday to Thursday ) with two courses for €20 and three courses for €25 including a glass of wine, tea, or Americano. My friend and I decided to go for the main menu and started off with steamed pork dumplings served with a soy vinegar dip, €6, and a single portion of meat sung, €7.50. The meat sung was a very generous helping of shredded pork and prawns served in an iceberg lettuce leaf and I always think it is a great Chinese starter — usually served as a portion for two. I recommend you try it. I had the dumplings which were delicious, a very healthy option and leaving you fighting fit for a main course. My main was mee hoon goreng which is a Malaysian dish of noodles and tiger prawns, €20. I asked for a few slices of duck to be added and this made a big difference to the overall dish. The portion was large and both the prawns and duck done perfectly, in fact I had to bring some of it home in a doggy bag. My friend had tiger prawns with ginger and spring onion, plus a serving of stir fried noodles €20. The prawns were deemed excellent; however I think the best dish on the entire menu is the Royal Villa stir fried noodles. It is normally served as an option instead of rice and I know many regulars go there just for the noodles. They are a meal in themselves and I often bring a portion home with me.
Normally the desserts in Chinese restaurants are best forgotten, with perhaps the exception of really good banana fritters. The Royal Villa menu has a more European selection of desserts and we ordered bread and butter pudding and tiramisu, €6 each. They were both top class, the bread and butter pudding is made with brioche and as good as I have had. The tiramisu was served in a beautiful shaped tall cup — lots of mascarpone cheese, espresso, sponge, and chocolate powder, it was as good as you would expect in an Italian restaurant. This was accompanied by an unexpectedly good cappuccino, presented with carefully made coffee-art swirls on top.
As we were both driving the alcohol consumption was kept to a single beer, chosen from the imported beers menu, another first for a Chinese restaurant. You can choose from beers like Macs Gold, Maisels Weisse, James Boags, Wells Waggle Dance, and more.
You can avail of free parking at the front door and the views of Galway Bay are practically unmatched by any other restaurant in Galway.
Finally, if you have a party of four or more, be sure to book the ‘royal table’. This is a circular table with its own circular seat and curtains, which is great for a get together of family and friends. It can seat up to eight people.
Onto a different topic, there will be a new three days a week indoor market in Clarinbridge starting from the end of October and it still has availability for stalls. The fact that it is indoor should make it an attractive venue as the next few months are not going to be ideal weather conditions for setting out a stall. The aim is to make it a mixed market of food, repairs of equipment, home baking, vintage clothes, meat, fish, and any service provider that needs an inexpensive way to get started in business. Enquiries to (087 ) 2729212.