Hattie Lloyd 20/05/24

Your Ultimate Guide To Chinatown

Where To Eat & Drink in London’s Chinatown

Bordered by Soho to the north, Covent Garden to the east, and heralded by a set of striking, Qing-era style gates, London’s Chinatown is one of the city’s most bustling, colourful pockets.

Since the 1970s, Gerrard Street (and the alleys casting off it) has been a hub for the city’s Chinese community, packed with fantastic regional Chinese restaurants, supermarkets, bakeries and small businesses. At first, it was a stronghold of Cantonese and Southern Chinese cuisine; but head there today and you’ll find places representing not just Northern China, but also Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Myanmar.

Chinatown London

Credit: Jakub Kadiec/Flickr

Like everywhere in London, Chinatown has undergone a fair amount of change recently, with many of the old stalwarts of the area pushed out by rising rents (and finding themselves replaced by more polished, instagram-friendly versions). However, there’s still a huge amount on offer, from traditional dim sum spots to DIY Korean BBQ.

Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think. – Chinese proverb

But specifically, enjoy yourself at one of these establishments, which we’ve handpicked (employing our usual exacting criteria of atmosphere, menu, execution and karaoke) for your delectation. – The Nudge



C&R Cafe Restaurant

C&R Chinatown restaurants

C&R has been serving up steaming bowls of authentic Malaysian fare since 1998. Tucked away in Rupert Court, it’s a little off the main tourist thoroughfare, and sports considerably more up to date decor than most. Come here for the creamy laksa, nasi lemak (fragrant rice cooked with coconut milk and pandan leaf) and bah kuh teh (pork rib soup).

Details: 4 Rupert Court, W1D 6DY ££


YiQi is the new flag-bearer for pan-Asian restaurants. Drawing on a wide array of South-East Asian culinary traditions, it somehow manages to pull off this kaleidoscope of cuisines with equal panache, from zippy king oyster mushroom & kumquat salad to Singaporean Iberico pork & red bean curd, and an innovative take on Hong Kong’s ‘Typhoon Shelter’ recipes using pig trotter. Having just opened at the start of 2024, YiQi’s also one of Chinatown’s most polished-looking restaurants, featuring rattan chairs, turquoise banquettes and smartly panelled walls.

Details: 14 Lisle St, London WC2H 7BE £££

Leong’s Legend

Leong's Legend Chinatown restaurants

Legend dictates that you’ll need to knock before entering this low-lit, rustic-feeling Taiwanese eatery. The xiao long bao here – silky, broth-filled dumplings – are, indeed, legendary, counting chef Mark Hix and critic Jay Rayner amongst their fans. For best results, pick them up by the crown, allow them to cool on your plate and pop the whole thing into your mouth about three minutes after they arrive.

Details: 39 Gerrard Street, W1D 5QD ££

Food House

Never has a tin better described its contents. It’s impossible to leave Food House with anything less than a full belly, whether you’ve picked something from the barbecue section, all chewy, charred deliciousness; the fiery Sichuan section, doused in red chilli oil from a decanter on the bar top; or the moreish dumplings, which you can order in generous stacks of 30… whether you’re feeling generous or not.

Details: 46 Gerrard Street, W1D 5QH £££

Viet Food

Jeff Tan was chef de cuisine when Hakkasan in Mayfair won its Michelin star. Unluckily for them, he left. Luckily for us, however, he opened his own (far more affordable) Vietnamese spot in Chinatown instead. Choose between seven types of pho, bolster it with buns stuffed with fresh chargrilled tiger prawns and lip-smacking glazed lemongrass chicken wings, and sip caramel-laced Saigon beer in the convivial surroundings.

Details: 34-36 Wardour Street, W1D 6QT | £


Olle Chinatown London

One of the best Korean restaurants in London, Olle offers up an addictively simple (and weather independent) take on DIY BBQ: pick your ingredients, and they’ll arrive at your table, raw, and ready for you to sling onto the sizzling grill at its centre. If you prefer your restaurant food served the old-fashioned way, i.e. already cooked, there’s plenty of classic Korean dishes to pick from, too, from bibimbap to Korean Fried Chicken.

Details: 88 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 6NG | £££

Speedboat Bar

speedboat bar chinatown

In the city that never sleeps keeps a very strict bedtime, Chinatown is the closest London gets to late night dining. And nowhere does it better than Speedboat Bar, the raucous, tongue-blisteringly hot Thai spot from lauded chef Luke Farrell. The menu is full of Chinese-inspired recipes from Bangkok’s Chinatown, resulting in hard-to-find dishes like crispy pork with green ash melon and beef tongue & tendon curry. And it’s all excellent, thanks in large part to the fact he grows his own Thai ingredients in specially-controlled jungle-like greenhouses in, er, Dorset. On top of all this, there are party-starting drinks like Calamansi-spiked slushie beers and snakeblood negronis, plus a pool table upstairs for late-night gatherings.

Details: 30 Rupert St, London W1D 6DL ££££

Orient London

A smart, flower-filled spot, Orient London specialises in Cantonese and Sichuanese dishes. Dim sum is served until 4.45pm here, making it Chinatown’s best restaurant for a late lunch of king prawn and truffle dumplings with XO sauce, miniature roast pork buns and steamed egg yolk buns.

Details: 15 Wardour Street, W1D 6PH | £££

Pochawa Grill

pochawa grill chinatown

Pochawa has to be one of the most fun restaurants in Chinatown, from the neon lighting and colourful hand-painted murals to the uptempo sound-track. Space-age funnels suspended over every table and its in-built gas grill, which you’ll use to sear marinated cuts of tender meat just the way you like it, alongside stellar supporting acts including kimchi pancakes and vegetable mandu.

Details: 29 Wardour St, London W1D 6PS£££

The Eight

Hong Kong cravings of every hue can be sated at The Eight, a new addition to London’s Chinatown that’s already swimming in hype. The culprit? Their signature dish of volcano egg: a heaving mound of egg and curry that’s so popular online it’s basically an influencer. That explains the long, snaking queues that trail down Shaftesbury Avenue in the evenings and on weekends – and given that the food is good, but not life-changingly good, your best bet is to come down for a quieter mid-week lunch of spicy pork wonton and pineapple buns (which can get so messy, they come with a pair of disposable gloves).

Details: 68-70 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 6LZ £££

Plum Valley

plum valley chinatown

Plum Valley stands out from its counterparts on Gerrard Street for various reasons. 1) They serve dim sum all day long, not just for lunch. 2) The cuisine is very much ‘modern’, and ‘fusion’ – so expect flavours catering to a more Western palate than a fully authentic recipe. 3) The decor is suave, dark and more suited to a date than some of the more crowded but characterful places – they have intimate booths as well as the classic round table seating arrangements. And 4) They have an entire floor devoted to karaoke dining rooms.

Details: 20 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JQ £££

Rasa Sayang

Rasa Sayang Chinatown London

For just over a decade, chef Ellen Chew’s Rasa Sayang has been feeding the masses with hearty Peranakan dishes, drawing on Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine. Best as a speedy lunch spot (service is not quite leisurely enough for dinner), all the classics are here and in good order: beef rendang, laksas, chilli crab and mooli cakes. Finish up with a cup of kopi – a Singaporean breakfast staple of coffee and condensed milk.

Details: 5 Macclesfield Street, W1D 6AY £

Thai Tho

Thai Tho is part of a 20 year old restaurant dynasty, which started with Fat Boys Thai in Chiswick. Nowadays, its Chinatown spot has a rep for great Thai food, served up in a colourful, well-kept dining room. Service can be a little on the slow side, so don’t bank on a pre-theatre dinner – but if you’ve time to spare, settle in and feast on Massaman curry, grilled chicken skewers and corn fritters.

Details: 42 Rupert Street, W1D 6DP £££

New Loon Fung

One of the longest-standing restaurants in Chinatown, New Loon Fung is a sprawling, well-regarded eatery found next to the Loon Fung supermarket on the main drag. It’s presided over by the septuagenerian Lee Shun-bun, who’s one of the last remaining restaurateurs here of his generation, having arrived here in Hong Kong back in 1975. There’s now a menu of over 100 excellent, authentic Cantonese dishes, and this is the place to come for yum cha (dim sum ‘brunch’) on Sundays, and traditional speciality dishes through the changing seasons.

Details: 42-43 Gerrard Street, W1D 5QG £££

Tao Tao Ju

Tao Tao Ju chinatown restaurant

Without a doubt one of the more upmarket restaurants in Chinatown, Tao Tao Ju is a sleek Cantonese spot decked out with low pendant lighting and elegant wooden screens. Come here for an elevated ‘takeaway’-style set menu with crispy seaweed, spring rolls and sesame prawn toast, or try a more adventurous offering from the à la carte. The gentle soundtrack and slower pace of service make it a spot to linger in.

Details: 15 Lisle Street, WC2H 7BE | £££

Tokyo Diner

Tokyo Diner live streams a restaurant webcam. This isn’t so that you can check ahead for seats, or watch people eating – it’s so that they can prove to prospective young chefs coming over from Japan that they are ‘a real place’. This, they hope, allows them to attract the best talent from back home, and thus continue to serve perfectly authentic Japanese cuisine – and seemingly, it works. Most popular dishes are represented – donburi (rice bowls), sushi, katsu curry, bento, udon and chicken karaage – and the quality’s excellent. They don’t accept tips here: any money unwittingly left behind is donated to the St. Martin-in-the-Fields homeless centre.

Details: 2 Newport Place, WC2H 7JJ ££

Beijing Dumpling

beijing dumpling london chinatown restaurants

We’re yet to find an establishment with chefs in the window studiously hand making dumplings that doesn’t serve delicious food. Michelin-recommended Beijing Dumpling is no exception. There’s usually a line out the door, but stick with it – it tends to shift in 15 minutes or so, and the xiaolongbao are well worth waiting for.

Details: 23 Lisle Street, WC2H 7BA | ££



Golden Gate Cake Shop

The GGCS makes some of the most colourful, elaborate celebration cakes around – but if you’re not in the market for a five-tiered diamanté-studded wedding cake, then there’s plenty of freshly baked sweet and savoury Chinese buns to grab and go, too. Pandan swiss rolls are a must, but the beautiful chocolate marbled sponge rolls scoop the prize for looks.

Details: 13 Macclesfield Street, W1D 5BR | £

Tong Tea

Bake Chinatown snacks

Ice cream and fish.

They’re not exactly a match made in heaven. But at Tong Tea, they coexist quite happily. See, they’ve taken the classic fish shape of Japanese taiyaki cakes, recreated them in waffle, and filled them with soft-serve matcha ice cream. And the result isn’t remotely fishy…

Details: 9 Wardour Street, W1D 6PF | £ – Cash only

Bun House

bun house chinatown

Z He and Alex Peffly’s dedicated bun spot has rapidly become one of Chinatown’s most hyped spots. They serve up fluffy steamed buns stuffed with the likes of char siu pork belly and sweet custard, alongside nostalgic treats like kaya French toast and sesame cheung fun. But it’s their cutesy seasonal specials, rolled out for occasions like Chinese New Year and Hallowe’en, that draw queues down the street.

Details: 26-27 Lisle Street, London WC2H 7BA ££

Chinese Tapas House

A proper late-night, hole-in-the-wall spot, dishing out mini £1 ‘kebabs’ with bean curd, black fungus and lotus fillings, bubble teas and piping hot buns over the counter.

Details: 15 Little Newport Street, WC2H 7JJ | £


Tsujiri chinatown snacks

This ultra-futuristic, beautifully sleek Japanese café has got the menu to matcha. Totally streamlined, they specialise in ceremonial-grade matcha tea, red bean iced blends, and crispy matcha ice cream sundaes.

Details: 33 Newport Court, WC2H 7PQ ££

Chinatown Bakery

Perpetually rammed, the freshly baked pastries at Chinatown bakery fly off the shelves almost as quickly as the staff can restock them. There’s a huge range of sweet and savoury snacks here, with a Hong Kong flavour – like custard tarts, youtiao (a churros-style doughnut) and BBQ pork buns. Get there early (and between mealtimes, if you can) and don’t forget cash.

Details: 7 Newport Place, WC2H 7JR | ££

Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream

Mamasons Chinatown

‘Dirty ice cream’ is the affectionate local name for the ice cream sold on the streets of Manila, traditionally made with “little more than ice, salt, a steel pot and a sturdy pair of hands”. Here, however, the ingredients are a trifle more attention-grabbing: there’s ube made with Filipino purple yam; black buko (coconut with activated charcoal); a sweet and salty cheese sorbeto; and some interesting vegan options, too.

Details: 32 Newport Court, WC2H 7PQ | £

Bubblewrap Waffle

Inspired by the popular Hong Kong street food snack, Bubblewrap Waffle had people queuing up to four hours when it first opened. Order one, and you’ll see why. Cones of bobbly waffle are filled with scoops of ice cream, nutella, peanut butter and fruit, and – just like bubblewrap – they’re immensely satisfying.

Details: 24 Wardour Street, W1D 6QJ | ££



The Blue Posts

Best Pubs in Soho: The Blue Posts

There are a couple of pubs in Soho called The Blue Posts, but stumble into the right one (on Rupert Street), and you’ll find an elegant drinking house set over three powder blue levels, from the team behind The Palomar and The Barbary. The ground floor is a gussied-up pub, with fancy beers on the taps and occasional live music; downstairs is a Michelin-starred chef’s table, Evelyn’s Table; and upstairs is a refined wine bar, The Mulwray.

Details: 28 Rupert Street, W1D 6DJ £££


opium bar chinatown

“Your teacher can open the door, but you must enter by yourself”. – Chinese Proverb

And today, the door we’re teaching you about is the unmarked jade green one on Gerrard Street, which, should you successfully enter, will lead you to a maze of beautifully styled rooms variously filled with smoking cocktails, midnight dim sum and, er, shouting toilets.

Details: 15-16 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JE | £££

Experimental Cocktail Club

Experimental Cocktail Club Chinatown bars

A low-lit, illicit drinking den also set over three levels, only here they’re given the New York prohibition-era treatment: exposed brick walls, twinkling art deco wall sconces, and smartly dressed barkeeps serving up an experimental menu. Hidden behind an unmarked, battered black door for over a decade now, it remains one of the best hidden bars in London, despite the dozens that have followed in its steps since.

Details: 13a Gerrard Street, W1D 5PS | £££


In Chinatown but don’t feel like Chinese food? Head to one of these excellent Soho restaurants

Chinatown London

Gerrard Street, Chinatown, W1D