The Best Places To Eat Chinese Food In London
From chewy Xi’anese noodles to huge Cantonese spreads, these are London's unmissable Chinese restaurants.
Chinese restaurants in London come in all shapes and sizes. The big, get the gang together for Sichuan pork ones. The boujie ones where you can take your nicest shirt out for a date with exceptional dim sum. And the tiny intimate ones that you hit up time and time again when the rain has given you the perfect excuse for some liangpi noodles. Anglo-Cantonese dishes have been the prevailing mainstream view of Chinese food in the UK in the past, but now more than ever this city has a variety of regional cuisines on offer and the spots serving them are getting more deserved appreciation. Find all of the very best restaurants in this guide.
photo credit: Stan Lee
You’ve probably heard of Arsenal. It’s a football team of minimal importance in comparison to this tiny little restaurant which is located opposite the Emirates Stadium. Your order should go as follows: the cold liangpi noodles, the hot beef biang biang noodles in chilli sauce, the boneless chicken in ginger sauce, a pork burger, and another pork burger for whichever poor soul is about to watch you get all ‘this is living’ over the sensational spice factor of those cold noodles. We know that sounds like a lot of food but trust us, you need to try all of the above.
One trip to this laid-back Xi’anese restaurant and you feel like a cold skin liangpi noodle has wrapped itself around your hippocampus, squeezing out pretty much everything else you care about. But it’s not just those chilli oil noodles that are unmissable at this low-key spot in Bloomsbury, it’s the spicy cumin beef burger, the hypnotic chew-factor of the hand-pulled biang biang noodles, and the zingy potato sliver salad that’s like a high five on a sunny day. From one of the chefs behind Xi’an Impression, it’s a casual place that’s perfect for a catch-up with friends or more importantly, an urgent catch-up with those noodles.
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photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli
When you go to Murger Han, you should arrive hungry or some very tricky decisions must be made. Everything from the clay pot dishes to the dumplings to the steaming soups are worthy contenders for your order but if you’re not down for a full feast, just make sure you get involved in the biang biang noodles and the headliner, the murgers. A traditional Xi’anese snack involving slow-cooked meat and fluffy little flat bread buns, it’s hands down one of the best lunch options in Bloomsbury and matches the mood of the relaxed space perfectly.
Dim Sum & Duck
Dim Sum & Duck has quickly become a must-visit restaurant for Cantonese cuisine. Unlike many dim sum restaurants in London, the little King’s Cross spot makes and serves their peerless xiaolongbao, heaving char siu, cheung fun, and bobbing wonton soup day and night. This is obviously good news. Not least because in careful crafting and fantastic flavour, it’s perhaps London’s best dim sum—at a very affordable price.
photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch
Look up, high above Wong Kei’s sign and you’ll learn that before it was the Cantonese canteen and Chinatown institution it is today, it was home to a renowned Victorian wigmaker. This was a noteworthy building then and it continues to be a noteworthy building now. 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.
The Hong Kong-inspired canteen serving Cantonese and Malaysian dishes is one of the last vestiges of late-night Chinatown and you’ll find it full of hungry or stumbling singletons and duos who are in dire need of sustenance. Café TPT offers a huge range of delicious dishes, from sweet and moist char siu pork on a bed of rice, to beef flank curry, to hot and sour soup. But if you’re looking to nap on the bus home, get the whopper, cheesy béchamel-covered, Macau-style baked pork chop.
Sichuan Folk can feel like a welcome respite from some of the trendier spots surrounding its location just off Brick Lane. This is a white tablecloths, big menus with pictures kind of affair. Their hot pots are excellent and the twice-cooked pork in chilli oil with buns is one of the tastiest (and biggest) things you can get for under a tenner in London. This is a great spot for a catch-up with mates, a last-minute dinner, or anything really.
photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
Barshu's electrifying dishes never cease to enchant. Whether you're here for the first time or the 100th, it's a Soho stalwart that always delivers. Mouthwatering Sichuan chicken in zinging chilli oil and dan dan noodles made for a head-down, solo lunch sing with hot and delightfully numbing spices. Bring a crowd so you can order more dishes or take yourself out for a chic date at the sleek spot.
A steaming hot plate of traditional leghmen from Etles can make you revert to your youth in the best possible way. Not the Lambrini on a bench, Dappy na-na-nai-ing from your phone stage, but the one before that. Where you eat in the crane position, back straight, head down, eyes lasered on the glorious heap of sweet peppers, onions, cabbage, and strips of caramelised beef hiding in plain sight on top of hand-pulled noodles. The Uyghur restaurant in Walthamstow is superb for sharing too. Their big plate noodles, specifically.
Turpan Uyghur Restaurant
A warm comforting meat and onion pastry for those chilly winter days, a cold refreshing noodle salad for the warmer ones, and steamed lamb dumplings for all the times in between. Turpan is perfect for anytime you need a homely meal in central. A small Uyghur spot on Great Russell Street, it’s the kind of casual place you pop into after work with a group of friends to split a big plate chicken (which by the way is BIG), or on your own to inhale a plate of thick leghmen noodles while scrolling through Twitter. It matters less how you use this restaurant and more that you finish off with the nutty honey cake and tea when you do.
Hunan is one of the ultimate IYKYK restaurants in London. It's a fine dining spot located on a pretty street in Pimlico with a ‘trust me’ tasting menu that changes every day. Despite the name, the restaurant draws on cuisines from various regions and although you don’t have a choice in what you eat, you should definitely trust the chefs. The food comes out in small, immaculate courses, and the prawn toast and crispy duck are both excellent, as is the seafood. It’s a lovely spot for a serene white tablecloth-type lunch or dinner that saves all the surprises for its food.
Imperial Treasure Fine Chinese Cuisine
Imperial in name and imperial in price—four pieces of siu mai will set you back £9.20 in this sedate St. James’s restaurant. Other than pins dropping and reverential peking duck servings, what you’ll notice at Imperial Treasure is how unbelievably, totally, eye-wateringly good everything tastes. The sesame prawn toast comes in the form of a chunky minced prawn head 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.
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 à la carte can be a little more hit and miss, though dong po pork belly and kung pao chicken are interesting and delicious takes on classics. If you’re after a fancy feast, this is your place.
photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch
Royal China Club
The original Royal China Club on Baker Street is a Cantonese 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 has always been welcome and sometimes you deserve some dim sum with a difference.
As people who have minimal interest in ever getting involved in the social experiment that is ‘going to the theatre’, our version of dinner and a show is the whole peking duck carved tableside at Shikumen. It’s an upmarket Cantonese restaurant inside the Dorsett Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush, and you’re going to want to order anything and everything that comes with a hoisin sauce sidekick and the consistently great xiaolongbao if you happen to be dropping by during the day. The upscale, low-lighting look makes it perfect for a date night or go ahead and bring a group here to enable an order of the £78 whole peking duck.
If you like your Sichuan-style deep-fried lobster with a side of exquisite London views, then you’ll like Hutong. An ultra-swish restaurant on the 33rd floor of The Shard, this looker specialises in northern Chinese cuisine, from a £98 per person signature menu featuring wok-tossed king prawns and the half roasted peking duck to dishes like aromatic beef rib in lotus leaf on the à la carte menu. If you’re in the market for something extra special, Hutong also has a couple of highly impressive private dining rooms.