LDNGuide

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.
The Best Places To Eat Chinese Food In London image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Chinese restaurants in London come in all shapes and sizes. The big get the gang together for Sichuan pork ones. The bougie 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. Although Cantonese cuisine has been the prevailing mainstream view of Chinese food in the UK in the past—and London does have some truly great Cantonese restaurants—this city also has a variety of regional cuisines on offer and the spots serving them are getting more deserved recognition. Find all of the very best options in this guide. 

If you’re after dumplings or more, check out our guide to London’s Best Dim Sum Restaurants as well.


Xi'anese

photo credit: Holly Liss

Chinese

Highbury

$$$$Perfect For:BYOBCasual Weeknight DinnerCatching Up With MatesCheap EatsDeliveryDining Solo
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You’ve probably heard of Arsenal. It’s a football team of marginally less importance in comparison to this tiny little Xi’anese 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.

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. 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.

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 Elephant and Castle and matches the mood of the relaxed space perfectly.


Cantonese

With its glistening meats that hang suspended in the window and crisp white tablecloths that beg to be painted with chilli oil, Gold Mine is a classic Cantonese restaurant of the most comforting variety. The Queensway spot has a constant flow of families, friends, and solo slurpers day and night. The daytime dim sum selection is excellent and enjoyable alone or with friends. But rock up at dinner with as many people as possible—the big round banquet tables deserve it.

Yi-Ban is a vast, white tablecloth dining room that serves moreish and excellent-value Cantonese food in a completely unique setting. At this big Docklands restaurant, you’ll see a Boeing 787 taking off from City Airport mid-gnaw of crispy chilli beef. While things vary a little—classics like steamed crystal dumplings, pork buns, and sweet and sour 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.

Dim Sum & Duck is not only a must-visit restaurant for Cantonese cuisine, but one of the best restaurants in London full stop. 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 London’s best dim sum—at a very affordable price.

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

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. Cafe 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 cheesy, béchamel-covered Macau-style baked pork chop.

Sichuan

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

This little New Cross noodle shop is the kind of place that everybody wants down the road from them. Wander in on a weekday lunchtime and you’ll find yourself in a small white-tiled room of nourishment, where bouncy handmade noodles swim in beefy broth or are fried off with slices of juicy duck on top. If your prescription is multiple dishes, then look toward the brilliant hand-sized frankfurter jian bing and a tingling cucumber salad for good measure. Come dinner, things liven up a bit and the offy on the corner is ready and waiting if you’re looking to BYOB.

Jinli 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.

Sichuan Folk can feel like a welcome respite from some of the trendier spots surrounding its location just off Brick Lane. This is a lazy susans, 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

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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.


Southern Chinese

Hainan House feels like something of an introvert. You’ll find it sandwiched between an organic grocer and kebab shop. Only this low-key southern Chinese restaurant in Angel is making food that tastes far from run-of-the-mill. Swing by alone and get some sticky cola chicken wings at the waist-high counter or thaw out with friends alongside the mini coconut chicken hotpot. It is, for all intents and purposes, Chinese penicillin.

Chinatown isn’t lacking in grab-and-go options and one of its latest is 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.


Sichuan/Chongqing

There are multiple reasons to fall in love with Noodle & Beer. The first is the name. It speaks to us both personally and profoundly. The second and third are all very much food-related. The thick tian-shui mian udon from this spot in Spitalfields is unlike any other in London. Full of bite and sitting in a slurpable pool of Sichuan pepper-filled sauce. And the other is the lang-ya tu dou, handmade crinkle-cut chips wok-fried in chilli oil with onion and pepper.


Uyghur

Etles Uyghur is London’s premier Uyghur restaurant. The family-run spot’s original Walthamstow location (there’s also one on Finchley Road) is the place to go for heaving portions of big plate chicken and hand-pulled leghmen noodles. There’s a lot to love from the menu—tugur dumplings and nourishing bowls of chochure soup are essential—so to get the best of Etles you want to be with at least one other person. Especially because everything about this restaurant, from the traditional tablecloths to the warm service, is as homely as it gets.

Big groups post-Arsenal matches or otherwise regularly descend on this deceptively large restaurant on Blackstock Road for their fill of slippery legmen noodles, cumin-rubbed lamb skewers, and warming big plate chicken. Don’t be fooled by what you can see from the street—this isn’t a takeaway and is very much a restaurant. One that’s as good for comforting meals as it is for celebratory get-togethers.

A warm 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. The small Uyghur spot on Great Russell Street is the kind of casual place you pop into after work with a group of friends to split a big plate chicken, or on your own to inhale a plate of thick leghmen noodles. It matters less how you use this restaurant and more that you finish with the nutty honey cake and Uyghur tea when you do.


Fine Dining

Hunan is one of the ultimate IYKYK restaurants in London. It’s a Chinese fine dining spot located on a pretty street in Pimlico with a ‘trust me’ tasting menu that changes every day. 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 in name and imperial in price—four pieces of siu mai will set you back 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 eye-wateringly 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.

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. The lengthy dim sum menu is legendary for good reason. It ranges from the familiar (prawn cheung fun) 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.

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 xiao long bao if you’re dropping by during the day. The upscale, low-lighting look makes it perfect for a date night or bring a group here to order the whole peking duck.

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Suggested Reading

The 20 Best Restaurants In Chinatown image

The 20 Best Restaurants In Chinatown

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

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We don’t know what the question is, but noodles and broth is almost definitely the answer.

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Cantonese canteens with glistening siu mai, glitzy restaurants with venison puffs, and buzzing spots with wobbling xiaolongbao.

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