The Best Restaurants in Chinatown guide image


The Best Restaurants in Chinatown

Roast duck, hot pots, and dim sum. Here’s where you should be eating in Chinatown.

The phrase ‘let’s get dinner in Chinatown!’ isn't helpful, at all. There are dozens of restaurants jammed into an area the size of a five-a-side pitch, all offering some of the same food, while simultaneously offering completely different and totally wonderful dishes (from Hunan, Sichuan, and more). With so much choice, it can be hard to figure out what’s worthwhile and what isn’t—which is where our Chinatown guide can help you out.


Orient London imageoverride image

Orient London


15 Wardour St, London
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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.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Wong Kei review image

Wong Kei

This Chinatown 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. Not least for those that know the value of a steaming hot meal for under £10.

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photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

The Eight review image

The Eight

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If the constant queue snaking down Shaftesbury Avenue is anything to go by, this Hong Kong-style tea house is the best restaurant in Chinatown. The Eight isn’t quite that. It’s a big, pine-heavy, canteen-style restaurant 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 you’re better off going with the pineapple bun.

Roast duck. It’s the whole reason you come to Four Seasons. While most of the other things on the 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, and the Chinese broccoli is good too, because health. Bring friends. All of them.

There are lots of restaurants in the area to visit if you just want a plate of roast meat and rice, or some noodles, but 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 solo if you have no friends but still want 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.

Jin Li is 30 seconds from Leicester Square and if you’re craving Sichuan food, this is one of the spots to hit in Chinatown. The hot and dry pots, in particular, 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 and more than happy to eat out of the same (hot) pot, 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 here 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. The hot pot is an awesome way to spend an 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 for under £20. That last point is an important one. Because, 30 dumplings. And also because they’re tasty boiled pork dumplings that, combined with a friend or two, some chilli oil lamb belt noodles, and an undying commitment to eating 30 of anything, make for a deliciously good-value meal.

Baozi Inn, one of the anonymous-looking Chinese cafes close to Charing Cross Road, doesn’t stick out but does brilliant bowls of spicy dumplings and noodles from Beijing and Sichuan. It makes for a perfect casual dinner with a few friends, especially if you’re down with amping up the spice factor.

Greetings from 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 wifi on a plane, 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. Heads up, under a tenner it’s cash-only. 

Everyone has that one friend. The one who actually stops drinking after their third glass and 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 spot in all of Chinatown but thanks to their big group tables, quick turnaround, and 4am closing time, it’s arguably the most useful. They serve great roasted meats, affordable fried rice dishes, and lots of other Sichuan and Cantonese classics. Their wonton noodles in soup are good, but you’ll really want to 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 here. 

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 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 things like dan dan noodles, rice dishes, and some excellent garlic prawns. 

The char kway teow (smoky stir-fried flat noodles with pork and prawns) at Malaysian spot Rasa Sayang might well be the best £8 you’ll spend, even in this part of town. Everything else on the menu (like the beef rendang) is good as well. Head here for a casual dinner or catch-up.

photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

Barshu imageoverride image




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Barshu is the consensus number one option when you want to eat 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.

This Taiwanese-style fried chicken shop 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).

The food at Ba Shan hails from Hunan province, and it hits the hot notes. The spicy soft shell crab is excellent and the red-braised pork is non-negotiable, so long as you’re into pork belly. The best seats are at the front of the restaurant, where it feels like you’re in a traditional inn in the Chinese countryside. It’s a little pricey but the food’s worth it.

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