LDNGuide

The 20 Best Restaurants In Chinatown

Roast duck, hot pots, and dim sum. Here’s where you should be eating in Chinatown.
The 20 Best Restaurants In Chinatown image

photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

Chinatown is always a good time. Sandwiched between Theatreland and Soho, the network of streets are perfumed with some of the city’s best dishes and decorated with red, hanging lanterns and roast ducks in windows. There are dozens of great restaurants serving Hunan classics, Sichuan specialities, Malaysian favourites, and more. But it can be hard to figure out what’s worthwhile—which is where our Chinatown guide can help you out.

If you're in the area, we've got suggestions for Covent Garden and Soho too.


THE SPOTS

photo credit: Emily Hai

Chinese

Chinatown

$$$$Perfect For:LunchTakeawayQuick EatsCheap Eats

Chinatown isn’t lacking in grab-and-go options, be it a pick-me-up char siu pork bun or a packed jianbing, and it has another excellent one in Jíxíang Baozi, a tiny Fujianese takeaway spot. The plump handheld fritters lay golden and tanned in the window of this cupboard-sized space and there’s a choice of chicken, pork, and oyster. Take it to go straight from the tray, or ask for another dunk in the fryer if you like your snacks steaming hot and crispy. Of the three, the oyster cake reigns supreme. Salty and packed with a shredded handful of bean sprouts, cabbage, seaweed, and onion—this is a sensational snack for £4.50. The pork, at a quid less, isn’t far behind.

Aimless wandering around Chinatown is all fun and games until someone gets hangry. When that alarm bell sounds, Tao Tao Ju is a reliable, casual spot for some sating dim sum under comforting yellow lighting. Towers of baskets go up and down its two floors, back and forth between the kitchen and tables of snapping chopsticks. While not the finest dim sum in London, it’s some of the best in Chinatown, and the pork and crab siu mai is suitably plump, while the deep-fried wonton cheung fun is as slippery and crunchy as they come.

A shrinking violet Pochawa Grill is not. The tight-knit Korean BBQ spot on Wardour Street is luminous pink from the outside and neon-lit once you step in. Kaytranada pumps from the speakers and LA galbi sizzles from every chrome table’s grills. It’s inspired by pojangmachas in South Korea—stalls where you can eat, drink, and slur words with friends until the early hours—and, though it’s only open until 11pm, it’s a fun interpretation. The banchan and BBQ platters are prepared and presented to a high standard, and the only sound more constant than the bass is that of ice-cold bottles of Cass being cracked.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

$$$$Perfect For:Catching Up With Mates

The Eight is a big, pine-heavy, canteen-style, Hong Kong-inspired teahouse that has an air of Muji about it. But you don’t come here for another LED diffuser, you come here for eggs. The whipped volcano egg—a whirling, swirling, mound of eggs with curry on the side—is as aesthetically pleasing as it is flavour-wise. Other things, like roasted meats and noodle soups, are decent enough, but they don’t live up to the regularly consistent queue outside and you’re better off going with the moist, butter-laden, pineapple bun.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

$$$$Perfect For:LunchQuick EatsTakeaway

The tiny Chinese takeaway spot in Chinatown makes jianbing and it’s one of the best-value, quick lunches in the area, depending on the size of your eyes when it comes to the fillings. The savoury crêpe-like dishes start at around £4 but when you load them with marinated pork belly and enoki mushrooms, it’s more like a tenner. The jianbing is painted and fried with two eggs, chilli oil, a feisty BBQ sauce, and youtiao. Spicy, meaty, crunchy, messy. 

RESERVE A TABLE

POWERED BY

OpenTable logo

Few things are more painful than going to a Cantonese restaurant and realising, thanks to the cruel limitations of biology, that you can only eat so much of the enormously enticing menu. So, any trip to Orient for dim sum or otherwise should be with many bellies and many dishes in mind. The dim sum at this classic Chinatown restaurant is always great: fried and steamed, pork and prawn-filled, with more dishes than there are twitchy fingers at the table. The big round tables or banquettes can also fit double-figure groups with ease.

This Chinatown Cantonese institution isn’t somewhere you come for the finest hand-pulled noodles or the most deeply flavoured broth. What you come for is arguably London’s best no-nonsense canteen restaurant. There’s always a table and there’s always their electrifying chilli oil. Without Wong Kei and its slapped-on-your-table wonton noodle soups and roasted meats bathing in sweet shining umami gravy, London would be a much poorer place.

Roast duck. It’s the whole reason you come to Four Seasons. While most of the other things on the Cantonese menu won’t blow you away, the duck is by far one of the best things you can eat in the area, if not all of central London. You’ll want at least a quarter per person and you’ll want it off the bone. The sauce they pour all over it is incredible too. The stewed pork belly with vegetables is also a great call, as well as the Chinese broccoli. Bring friends and wear your stretchy clothes. It’s a relaxed place and it’ll mean you can probably manage half a bird.

There are lots of Cantonese restaurants in the area to visit if you just want a plate of roast meat and rice, or some noodles, but Cafe TPT is our favourite. Nostalgia for old-school Chinatown aside, we’ve been coming here for over 10 years, and you can get a full meal with friends, have a catch-up, or eat a solo plate of chow mein. Get the roast pork and char siu pork with rice, or the beef flank curry, which is one of the most underrated dishes in London.

Jinli is 30 seconds from Leicester Square and if you’re craving Sichuan food, this is one of the spots to hit in Chinatown. In particular, the hot and dry pots are perfect for a big group meal, and the whole deep-fried sea bass covered in chilli oil is a must-order. It’s crispy, it’s moist, and you’ll find yourself mining for more fish among the oil, dry chilli, and Sichuan peppercorns. If you’re moving in numbers, this is a good option.

There’s often a queue for Leong’s Legend in the evenings but each time we’ve been, it’s been absolutely worth it. The Taiwanese dishes are more interesting than your typical Chinatown joint, and there’s something for everyone. The menu jumps around a lot but you should definitely get the soup dumplings and stir-fried green beans with pork, and the whole crab that comes smothered in garlic and chilli. And the hot pot is a great way to spend a laid-back evening with friends.

Food House is a comfortable Sichuan restaurant on the corner of Gerrard Street, serving chewy noodles, hot pots, and, most importantly, a portion of 30 dumplings. That last point is an important one. Because 30 dumplings. And also because they’re tasty boiled pork dumplings. Combined with a friend or two, some chilli oil lamb belt noodles, and an undying commitment to eating 30 of anything, it makes for a deliciously good-value meal.

Bake is the most charming spot in Chinatown. This little bakery, just up from Leicester Square, specialises in taiyaki—Japanese fish-shaped waffle cones—that they fill with vanilla soft serve, matcha soft serve, or if you’re feeling wild, both. Of course, living in a city with weather that’s about as reliable as the Piccadilly line, it’s good to keep in mind that Bake also does great little cakes, Chinese pandan lotus pastries, and some excellent char siu buns to go.

Everyone has that one friend. You know, the one who lovingly butters a piece of toast for you while saying, “eat this, you’ll feel better for it in the morning”. For us, that friend is Old Town 97. This converted townhouse isn’t necessarily the best Chinese spot in all of Chinatown but thanks to their big group tables, quick turnaround, and 4am-ish closing time, it’s arguably the most useful. Get involved in the duck section of the menu—everything from the stir-fried duck in black bean sauce to the fried udon with shredded duck are go-to winners.

Seeing a stack of bamboo steamers coming your way at Beijing Dumpling will get your heart racing. As soon as you walk into this casual little Chinese spot on Lisle Street you can see the chefs making pork xiaolongbao, huge seafood dumplings, and vegetable wontons. It’s always a good idea to go heavy on the dumplings, but they also serve some excellent garlic prawns.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

The char kway teow (smoky stir-fried flat noodles with pork and prawns) at Malaysian spot Rasa Sayang is a must-order. Everything else on the menu (like the beef rendang) is good as well. Whoever you choose to bring to this bustling spot—a group of friends for a catch-up or just yourself at lunchtime—they'll leave full and satisfied. The ground floor usually has some spots saved for walk-ins and the comfy booths are an ideal place to camp out for a couple of hours. But if you like being in the thick of it, then the smaller buzzy downstairs dining room is probably for you.

photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

Barshu is the number one option for spicy Sichuan-style food in central London. The dan dan noodles and dumplings in chilli oil are very tasty, and the amount of spicy and deep-fried things on the menu means that it’s fantastic if you just want to knock back a few beers and eat with your hands. Its sleek and shiny aesthetic make it a great place for a business-y lunch or date night.

photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

This Taiwanese-style fried chicken shop looks unpromising from the outside, but Good Friend is one of London’s best grab-and-go spots. Everything is fried to order, it’s delicious, and you get a lot of food for your money. Skip the wings and get the popcorn chicken or the flattened chicken breast if you’re hungry (it’s huge). When it comes to making decisions about which of the 11 seasonings to shake over your chicken, plum and chilli is our move.

Speedboat Bar is a fun and fiery Thai restaurant on the edge of Chinatown. With an upstairs bar open until 1am on weekends, self-pour three-litre Singha beer towers, and wolfable curries—it’s also a lot of fun. It’s soundtracked by the chatter of tightly knit groups of friends and the scraping of spoons in excellent sauces and broths. The unapologetically fiery drunkard’s noodles are a must-order, so is the lurid red, meltingly gorgeous plate of beef tongue and tendon.

This small restaurant has a certain energy that you’ll feel the moment you walk in the room. Maybe it’s the music. Maybe it’s the lighting. Maybe it’s your server reaching over to make notes on your menu, just to be sure you don’t miss the good stuff. The Palomar is a great restaurant throughout, but most of the fun happens at the bar. Pull up a seat and work your way through tasty, Israeli and Mediterranean-inspired sharing plates, which can mean anything from tender beef tataki to sticky, glazed octopus.

Chase Sapphire Card Ad

Suggested Reading

The 21 Best Restaurants In Soho image

The 21 Best Restaurants In Soho

Our 22 favourite spots in London’s most famous area for eating and drinking (and repeating).

Yi-Ban image
8.0

Yi-Ban is a big, round table, lazy susan kind of Cantonese restaurant, serving solid dim sum with a delightful view of London City Airport.

The Best Restaurants In Covent Garden image

Burmese noodle soups, excellent dim sum, some of London's best tapas, and more.

Infatuation Logo

Cities

2024 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The views and opinions expressed on The Infatuation’s site and other platforms are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of (or endorsement by) JPMorgan Chase. The Infatuation and its affiliates assume no responsibility or liability for the content of this site, or any errors or omissions. The Information contained in this site is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.

FIND PLACES ON OUR APP

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store