The Best Dim Sum Restaurants In London
From Cantonese canteens with glistening siu mai to glitzy restaurants with venison puffs, here’s where to cram your table with dim sum in London.
Char siu bun, tick. A plate of turnip cakes, nod. Siu mai, sure. Har gow, absolutely. Dim sum is an irresistible meal. Steamed and savoury, deep-fried, and desserts. This Cantonese lunch time special is truly in the upper echelons of all meals and these spots—from the low-key, to the high-end, to the airport-adjacent—are where you should be enjoying dim sum in London.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Few modern restaurants understand the profound power of combining excellent food with a healing soundtrack of pan flutes. Hong Kong Restaurant is one of them. But don’t be deceived by the laid-back atmosphere of this Cantonese spot on Upper Street. They’re serious about their dim sum, serving glistening siu mai, pillowy chicken and shiitake mushroom buns, and some of the best cheung fun in London. And in a win for night owls everywhere, almost all of the expert dim sum is served until 9pm. But if you want to get involved in gloriously slippery, hypnotically chewy king prawn rice noodle rolls, you’ll need to head here before 5pm when the cheung fun specialist clocks off.
Royal China Club
The original Royal China Club on Baker Street is a restaurant that plenty of people get a little misty-eyed about. It’s an institution where the chilli oil or hoisin-stained white tablecloths can bring back all kinds of memories. And also, the steam from a tower of dumpling baskets can really fog up your glasses. Royal China’s lengthy dim sum menu is legendary for good reason. It ranges from the familiar (prawn cheung fun, say) to the fancy (crispy rolls with scallop and foie gras), so don’t be surprised that it can easily add up to west London club prices. That said, this is a club where everyone’s welcome and has a good time.
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Dim Sum & Duck
Dimsum and Duck is a must-visit restaurant for Cantonese cuisine. Unlike traditional dim sum restaurants in London, the little King’s Cross restaurant serves their peerless xiaolongbao, heaving char siu cheung fun, and bobbing won ton soup day and night. This is obviously good news. Not least because in careful crafting and fantastic flavour, this is perhaps London’s best dim sum—at a very affordable price.
photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
Din Tai Fung
If Din Tai Fung could have trademarked the xiaolongbao, they more than likely would have. And for good reason. Stop by solo for five pieces of the earthy truffle ones to congratulate yourself for surviving another hump day, or schedule a quick catch-up to swap and slurp land and sea style, with a medley of crab and pork options. They’re the ultimate feat of steamer engineering and a faultless thin dough tease. When you’re 99% sure the slick, chewy dough is going to split, crisis is averted, and the fragrant broth and flavourful fillings are kept safe inside. Other dishes worth an order at the casual, sprawling Covent Garden spot, are the crispy pork wontons, golden prawn pancake, and bouncy crab and pork buns.
At the top of A. Wong’s dim sum menu, you’ll find a piece of information in parentheses that is vital to absorb. It says ‘DIM SUM (1 piece)’. So yes, a singular xiaolongbao at the two Michelin-starred Pimlico restaurant does cost £4.50, but it is also fantastic. The dim sum menu is around 30-something dishes long, that ranges from an excellent (but somewhat unnecessarily truffle-topped) seared scallop pork cheung fun, to ‘Memories of Peking Duck’, a glorious peking duck and seared foie gras roll topped with caviar. Yes, this dim sum is dear, but everyday it is not.
Despite its glassy exterior, its vicinity to Paddington station (undoubtedly a bottom three London rail option), and its misfortune to have the words Toby and Young appear in relation to a review of it, Pearl Liang is a fine choice for dim sum. The business-feeling-but-not-business-priced restaurant keeps everything around the £4-£5 mark, which reflects the satisfactory standard of siu mai, cheung fun with XO sauce, and a favourite spicy prawn ravioli in broth, a.k.a prawn wontons. FYI they also offer a dim sum set menu of eight items for £12.50, which is very reasonable.
Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine
12pm-3pm on weekdays, 4pm weekends
Imperial by name and imperial in price. Four pieces of siu mai will set you back £10.50 at this sedate Mayfair restaurant. Pins dropping and reverential peking duck servings aside, what you’ll notice at Imperial Treasure is how unbelievably good everything tastes. The sesame prawn toast comes in the form of a chunky minced prawn head down in a sesame covered roll, while the golden net prawn cheung fun—filled with youtiao (crisp deep-fried dough) and hunks of meaty prawn—is easily one of the best dim sum plates you can eat in London.
Understanding that you can’t order everything from Orient’s 70-something item dim sum menu can be hard to come to terms with. But regardless of whether you order one dish here (the XO fried turnip cake, FYI) or several (the Orient mixed cheung fun and roast pork puffs are particularly excellent), you’re going to be satisfied. The Chinatown restaurant is quite slick and shiny, so come for dinner with friends or for date night in your nice top.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Yi-Ban is a vast, white tablecloth dining room that serves moreish and excellent value dim sum in a completely unique setting. At this big Docklands restaurant, you’ll also see a Boeing 787 taking off from City Airport, mid-gnaw of crispy chilli beef. While things vary between decent and delicious—safe bets like steamed crystal dumplings and pork buns are the way to go—the view is never in doubt. The combination of whirring jet engines, XO sauce-slathered cheung fun, and lazy susans is a good one.