Luckily there’s no great walls between you and some top-notch Chinese food in London.
From dumpling specialists to tongue-numbing Sichuan spice, Chinatown stalwarts to itinerant pop up eateries, the city’s spoilt for choice. But if you’re only after the best, here they are…
My Neighbours The Dumplings | Clapton, Victoria Park
MNTD have proven so popular in their Clapton home that they’ve just unveiled a second branch of their dumpling-focussed eatery. Taking up an impressive space on the fringes of Victoria Park, they serve up classic dim sum dishes – potstickers, crispy prawn wonton, scallop & spinach and pork & prawn siu mai – alongside traditional sides, some Japanese-influenced skewers and a two-page sake menu. READ MORE
Details: 178-180 Victoria Park Road, Hackney, London, E9 7HD | Open Wed-Sun evenings
Liu Xiaomian | Marylebone
Liu Xiaomian is a street food outfit specialising in the mouth-numbingly spicy cuisine of Chongqing. The two chefs behind it, Charlene Liu and Liu Qian originally hail from the Sichuanese city, and are pouring their no-holds-barred spicy know-how into dishes like chickpea and minced pork noodles; braised beef; and chilli pig trotters. And don’t worry, there’s some very icy desserts to follow. READ MORE
Details: The Jackalope, 43 Weymouth Mews, W1G 7EG | Lunch and dinner, Tues-Fri
Chinese Laundry | Brockley
Chinese Laundry are really cleaning up. Their authentic yet accessible menus have enchanted diners across the capital since they lost their permanent restaurant to a fire a few years ago. Currently, the team are in residence at a Brockley pop up kitchen, where they’re serving a daily changing menu including the likes of drunken crawfish and chilli slow-cooked chicken feet. It’s proved so popular that their initial residency has now been extended for the best part of a year, plus it’s all BYOB. READ MORE
Details: 10 Coulgate Street, SE4 2RW | Open Wed-Sun evenings until Feb 2020
Xi’an Impression | Highbury
An unpretentious local spot revered for its biang biang noodles (Sichuan spicy, ribbon-thick, hand-pulled noods) and Xi’an beef burger with its slow-cooked, spice-infused, Silk Road-whispering meaty juices. The dishes are fiery, unctuous, and messy to eat. Roll your sleeves up, accept the fiery sauces running down your chin, and throw any hopes of making a good impression on your date out the window. Xi’an Impression’s already got it covered. READ MORE
Details: 117 Benwell Road, London, N7 7BW | Open all day, every day
Chinatown | Soho
Unsurprisingly, home to some of the best Chinese restaurants in London. Buckle in for a feast of dim sum or all-you-can-eat buffet, or go on a food crawl. Gerrard Street (and the little alleys spinning off it) is home to specialists in Peking duck, xiaolongbao, hotpot and Cantonese classics – as well as a couple of Chinese bakeries serving tasty buns to go. READ MORE
Mao Chow | Hackney
Mao Chow’s vegan Chinese dishes were an instant hit when they first popped up, and now they’ve scored themselves a permanent spot on Hackney’s Mare Street. It’s a tiny, hole-in-a-wall kind of place; cash-only and seating just 12 diners in its colourful space. Here, you can chow down on spicy mapo tofu, veg and fennel dumplings, Chongqing-style wheat noodles and smacked cucumber with garlic – which, ironically, is a breath of fresh air. READ MORE
Details: 159a Mare Street, E8 3RH | Open Tues-Sat evenings
Master Wei | Bloomsbury
Having effortlessly taken Xi’an Impression into the hearts of Londoners, chef Guirong Wei continues to shine the spotlight on her native Shaanxi cooking with her first solo venture, Master Wei. The highlight here is, again, the biang biang noodles – lovely, chilli-slicked ribbons served with buttery smooth pak choi, textured morsels of pork and tomato and egg – but they should be savoured alongside a slew of Xi’an street food classics, like the potsticker dumplings and rou jia mo flatbread-style burgers.
Details: 13 Cosmo Place, WC1N 3AP | Open all day, every day
Noodle & Beer | Spitalfields
As restaurant names go, Noodle & Beer is a real time-saver, because it’s what you’re going to end up ordering too. It’s a regional Chinese that specialises in Sichuan & Chongqing cooking, throwing all of the area’s traditional herbs & spices into hot, nourishing bowls of noodles. Which, of course, you can wash down with some beer.
Details: 31 Bell Lane, Shoreditch, E1 7LA | Open for lunch and dinner, Monday-Sunday
Lucky & Joy | Clapton
Lucky & Joy is swathed in a colourfully tongue-in-cheek aesthetic of purple, green, and blue fluro-style spot lighting, as well as a flatscreen TV purely playing pictures of animals, just to give it that gloriously kitschy edge. And the food? Is very much straight-up delicious… READ MORE
Details: 95 Lower Clapton Road, E5 0NP | Open for dinner, Tues-Sat
Hakkasan | Fitzrovia, Mayfair
Nowhere does high-end Chinese dining quite like Hakkasan. Eminently successful, the Fitzrovia original is the first of 11 Hakkasans that have since cropped up around the world – though they’re not quite as ubiquitous as founder Alan Yau’s other venture, Wagamama. Hakkasan is a gloss-covered jewel of a restaurant – the atmosphere’s dark and vibey; the cocktails strong and the Cantonese dishes unparalleled in their delicacy. There’s a lunch set menu (a reasonable £38), or if you want the full Michelin star experience, head there in the evening for lobster har gau with caviar; the famous Peking duck; or smoked beef ribs with jasmine tea. READ MORE
Details: 8 Hanway Place, W1T 1HD | Open for lunch and dinner daily
Hutong | London Bridge
Perched hundreds of metres above the rest of London on the 33rd floor of the Shard, Hutong is a dark, glamorous spot filled with red lanterns, dramatic mood lighting and a wishing tree. You can have high hopes for the meal, too – it’ll set you back a fair sum but if you’re splashing out, the tableside Peking duck carving, Champagne-soaked shrimp dumplings and Shandong shredded chicken in butterfly buns is the way to go. READ MORE
Details: Level 33, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY | Open for lunch & dinner daily
A. Wong | Pimlico
Andrew Wong didn’t particularly want to become a chef. He studied at both Oxford and LSE before it fell to him to take the reins of the family business – Chinese restaurant Kym’s, on Wilton Road. Six years later, that restaurant is now Wong’s own eponymous, Michelin starred, critically praise-showered eatery, while the name Kym’s has been bestowed on his follow-up in Bank. The glorious, showstopper cooking here is the result of Wong’s pilgrimage around China’s many provinces, learning directly from the masters all the tips and tricks of regional specialities. The 10 course “Taste of China” tasting menu is a love letter to the country’s many influences, quirks and unique flavour pairings, and to miss it would be a crime.
Details: 70 Wilton Road, SW1V 1DE | Open for lunch and dinner, Tues-Sat
Wun’s | Soho
Just when you thought London was going to have to do without a chic, 1960s-Hong-Kong-styled tea room and bar…
…we went and found Wun.
It comes to us courtesy of Z He and Alex Peffly, the same husband and wife team behind Bun House. Z herself is from Hong Kong and apparently felt strongly about creating a place that gave Londoners a taste of the nostalgic Cantonese dishes from her childhood, in a space inspired by what she’d consider to be two classic components of life in HK. It’s a two floor space, so you can slip into both casual and moody gears, and it’s got excellent food… READ MORE
Details: 23-24 Greek Street, Soho, W1D 4DZ | Open daily for lunch & dinner
Silk Road | Camberwell
Amidst London’s preponderance of Cantonese restaurants comes something completely different. Silk Road takes its culinary influences from Guandong’s polar opposite, Xinjiang (over on the northwestern side of China, bordering Mongolia and Kazakhstan). This region was (spoiler!) at the nexus of the Silk Road trading routes back in the day, and its unique, flavourful cuisine can be hard to track down in London. Silk Road does it justice: chicken gizzards are stir-fried with cumin and chilli; ox tripe, kidneys and lamb fat shish are grilled over charcoal; and Xinjiang’s signature dish is perfectly executed, with on-the-bone chicken floating in a broth singing with green chilli. Order a bowl of noodles to pour into the left-over liquor, and settle in for the evening.
Details: 49 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8TR | Open weekdays 5-11pm, weekends 2-11pm
Last Updated: 25th March 2020 | Main image: Kansas Smitty’s
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