The Richmond Oriental Chinese restaurant was established in 1993 in East Kilbride, one of the new towns designed to take the overspill from the city of Glasgow. It had come recommended some months ago, but this was the first opportunity I had to visit. This restaurant is located in a non-residential area of the town and has its own private car park providing ample spaces for diners.
The restaurant advertises that it offers a mix of both Chinese and Thai food specialities as well as most of the Scottish staples, such as sweet-and-sour chicken, beef curry and char-siu.
There is excellent disabled access from the car park which is on a level and flat surfaced area with no steps.
On entering we were met by a uniformed waiter at what I would regard as being the maitre d’ station who promptly showed us to a table. Lunchtime special menus were left with us while he proceeded to take a drinks order.
The interior of the restaurant is open plan and comes across as plush and upmarket. The overall colour scheme is predominantly creams and browns and the leather backed dining chairs set against the crisp white linen tablecloths and polished glassware looked like this dining room would have been at home equally as well in a five-star establishment. The overall ambience is one of peaceful relaxation.
The restaurant is set on two levels, the main floor and an upper level reached by a short flight of steps which also doubles up as a piano/lounge bar area. The wine menus on the table showed prices ranging from the cheapest at £15.92 and the most expensive at £55. These were fairly normal for any restaurant and quite acceptable.
The staff all came across as being very efficient albeit slightly standoffish, but this may simply have been down to the language barrier between us. There’s a world of difference between being simply rude and unhelpful and displaying a more businesslike and professional attitude.
The special lunch menu offered one course for £8.50, two courses for £9.90 and three courses for £11.30. This menu is available from Monday to Thursday between 12 noon to 2pm and on a Friday and Saturday from 12 noon to 4pm. And if you’re just looking for a cheaper lunch, then the choices offered on this menu are more than adequate.
Having perused the à la carte menu rather than the lunch special version, it provided a good selection of starters, which included some more unusual dishes not always found in Chinese restaurants. For example, crispy seaweed with grated fish, fresh mussels, and Yuk Sum Po which is a minced chicken wrapped in a lettuce leaf. However, since there was two of us dining we opted for the Richmond starter at a price of £7.90 per person (for a minimum of two people). This included satay chicken, breadcrumbed chicken, chilli and salt ribs, along with king prawn rolls.
We were served with a bowl of prawn crackers while a heater unit was set up. These were freshly made, dry and crispy. In my opinion, any Chinese restaurant which serves greasy prawn crackers is one you shouldn’t be eating in.
Unfortunately for us, things started to go slightly awry at this point. The salt and chilli ribs mentioned on the menu as part of our starter platter were not ribs as you and I know ribs to be. I can only describe these as being “riblets”. It was almost as if someone had taken one large rib and chopped it into small chunks. These smaller pieces were inedible being formed mainly of bone and gristle. There was very little meat on any of them and what meat there was, was tough and chewy.
The items referred to as king prawn rolls were simply your common or garden supermarket variety of frozen filo pastry wrapped king prawn. They certainly were not homemade. The satay chicken skewers, of which there were two, had three soft tender bites of chicken which had been griddled were slightly charred, giving a nice taste and married with the satay sauce provided helped override the initial disappointment over the ribs and king prawn. The breadcrumbed chicken, of which there were four slices, was OK, but nothing to write home about. It was simply a piece of breadcrumbed chicken. This being a Chinese restaurant I had expected something other than that which can be obtained in most chicken restaurants. So, all in all, this wasn’t the best of starts for somewhere that promises more than it had thus far delivered.
For my main dish, I had chosen a Mandarin sizzling chicken – which the menu described as being finely chopped onions and pineapple, wok fried in a sweet and tangy sauce with chicken, priced at £12.90. My dining companion had opted for a duck in plum sauce priced at £13.90.
Please note: rice is not included in the main course prices and is an optional extra. My dish arrived at the table and certainly met its sizzling description. We had opted for a king prawn fried rice as our accompaniment and a portion of soft noodles. My chicken was thin slices as opposed to chunks but there was plenty, and when mixed with the spring onions and pineapple made for a reasonable portion. Served in what should have been a piquant sauce, for me, was leaning too far towards the sweet side of ‘sweet and tangy’, and for personal preference, I would have preferred something a little more tart coming through in the flavour of this dish.
The duck in plum sauce was a full duck breast sliced and served in a rather thick and sticky sauce which contained pineapple chunks. The main section of the duck breast was perfectly cooked and was soft, tender and quite unctuous. However, the ends of the duck breast were unfortunately overcooked and provided much more of a challenge to chew successfully. Again, similar to the Mandarin chicken, the plum sauce was overly sweet and I really think that the kitchen needs to consider dialling back on the sugar content of such sauces – and there was far too much of it. Duck is ‘heavier’ game meat, so any sauce needs to be lighter to complement it, and not a thick, syrupy gloop.
The large dish of king prawn fried rice was more than sufficient for two to share containing 10 king prawns. The rice itself was well cooked, soft, fluffy and didn’t have that sticky clagginess you sometimes find with rice which has been cooked before being allowed to cool properly.
The soft noodles, well there’s not much can go wrong with noodles surely, and these were as I expected – cooked through with both onions and beansprouts along with some soy sauce, they were absolutely fine.
Our visit to the Richmond Oriental was a bit of a mixed bag to be honest. The place looks wonderful on the inside and I had rather hoped for good things as we entered, and particularly so as the menu suggested that the kitchen staff knew what they were doing with the more unusual house specials. Perhaps we just caught them on an off day. Although our visit was on a Friday afternoon, it was still a busy lunch service with around 40 covers being handled.
The cost of our lunch including drinks for two was £66.20 and, it’s fair to say it certainly isn’t the cheapest restaurant for a lunch, nor for drinks at £5.80 for two soft drinks, although the set lunch menu does indeed offer much better value for money in the food stakes. Would I return – yes, if only to give this restaurant the benefit of the doubt, as I’m fairly certain they can do better – the menu suggests exactly that!
For further information, menus and details of the restaurant, click here.