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The best restaurants, cafes and bakeries in Chinatown

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The best restaurants in Chinatown

​Find London’s Chinatown nestled between Soho and Leicester Square; in the past few years there have been lots of exciting additions - Newport Court has transformed into a sweet tooth heaven, while hot pot restaurants and bubble tea cafes are piling in to claim a piece of the territory. With Lunar New Year upon us, there’s no better time to explore Chinatown. London-based supper club host, specialising in Cantonese home cooking, Cherry Tang gives us her recommendations.

 

Dim Sum

roomChuan

Almost all the Chinese restaurants in Chinatown serve dim sum during lunch hours. Everyone has their favorite and here are our top three. The rule of thumb for ordering dim sum is three dishes per person plus two more. Top up with fried rice or noodles at the end to complete the meal.

 

Chuan - 30 Gerrard St, London W1D 6JS

The latest addition of the Royal China group emphasizes its bold flavors, but the absolute standout is the crispy prawn cheung fun. Think a soft and tender steamed rice roll wrapped around a deep-fried minced prawn filled beancurd roll. Double rolls means double happiness.

 

Orient - 15 Wardour St, London W1D 6PH

What Orient is really known for, is its dim sum menu, especially the baked mini roast pork buns. Get there early to avoid disappointment as they sell out fast! The a la carte menu is mainly Cantonese-based with a few classics like roast duck and Pei Pa tofu.

 

Dumpling’s Legend - 15-16 Gerrard St, London W1D 6JE

It’s always enjoyable watching the masters at work in the open kitchen at Dumpling's Legend. Many come here for their extensive soup dumpling menu, but for us, their king Har Gow (crystal large prawn dumplings) takes a strong lead as one of London’s best dumplings.

 

Celebrations / group gathering

roomGold Mine China Town

Having a feast with family or friends is the default activity for any kind of Chinese celebration. Imagine a whole roast duck served as the centerpiece together with some stir-fried leafy greens. Add red braised tofu or honey fried pork chops then all you need is the appetite and some steamed white rice. A lot of the restaurants in Chinatown have private karaoke rooms too!

Hot pot is also great for group gatherings. It is a pot of wonder where you can choose to cook meat, seafood or vegetables -  whatever you like. The list of ingredients is long - beancurd products alone have at least five varieties like tofu blocks, sheets, knots and deep-fried rolls. The broth offerings usually spark a heated discussion, as someone always votes for the spiciest mouth-numbing Sichuan butter broth!

 

Gold Mine China Town - 45 Wardour St, London W1D 6PZ

Gold Mine brought new competition to Chinatown with its renowned roast duck. Slightly less heavy on the five spice front, it’s probably more suitable for those who seek the meaty taste. Other popular dishes are hot plate sizzling egg tofu and steamed three coloured eggs.

 

Four Seasons - 23 Wardour St, London W1D 6PW

Cantonese roast duck is a speciality at Four Seasons. If you are eating in, always order on the bone as this is how it is supposed to be eaten. A side of fish fragrant aubergine and ginger fried Chinese broccoli go a long way. You can also order a whole duck to take home and then reheat it whole in the oven. The leftover carcass is good for making soup the next day.

 

Joy Luck (Nusa Dua) - 118-120 Shaftesbury Ave, London W1D 5EP

Joy Luck moved from a small place at Gerrard Street to Nusa Dua. So now you can enjoy both Indonesian and Chinese steamy hot pot along with Wuhan hot dry noodles, which you can’t easily find anywhere else in London.

 

Haidilao Hot Pot - Unit 4/5 Coventry St, London W1D 7DH

Founded in 1994, Haidilao is the most popular hot pot chain in China. There are two branches in London - North Greenwich and at Piccadilly Circus, just a short walk via Rupert street located south side of Chinatown. Expect super fresh ingredients and second-to-none dining service from this world renowned brand.

 

Quick and casual

roomJen Cafe

"Cafe" is a general term to describe an all-purpose diner. Either turn up solo or with a friend or two; no matter what you order, you are guaranteed to finish within an hour. This is called efficiency. Try a food crawl starting from Jen Cafe for fried handmade dumplings, followed by a short walk over to Cafe TPT for any of their Tai Pai Tong specials, and then ending it with a plate of Nasi Lemek at C&R Cafe.

 

Jen Cafe - 4-8 Newport Pl, London WC2H 7JP

Located at the top of Newport Place is Jen Cafe, where you will find comfort in watching all the dumplings being made from scratch through a green wooden frame window. Recommendation: all the dumplings.

 

Cafe TPT - 21 Wardour St, London W1D 6PN

Come here for the ultimate Cha Chaan Teng (Hong Kong Western-influenced all day diner) experience. Milk tea and iced lemon tea are served alongside wonton noodle soup and beef brisket lo mein. Macau style baked pork chop rice is a must along with their Tai Pai Tong hawker dishes.

 

C&R Cafe Restaurant - 4-5 Rupert Ct, London W1D 6DY

A place to go if you want to feel all cosy. Go for the trio - Char Kway Teow (Fried flat rice noodles with egg, prawns and fish cake), Nasi Lemak (Rice cooked in coconut, served with sambal chili, anchovy and chicken) and Wat Tan Ho (Fried flat rice noodles with mixed meat, seafood and gravy).

 

Snacks

roomBun House

Savoury snacks are underrated. When everyone queues for bubble tea, sometimes all you really crave is that extra trace of salt. There are few snack places that offer order-and-go in Chinatown and below are our favourites.

 

Bun House - 26-27 Lisle St, London WC2H 7BA

Under the same umbrella as the Wun’s tea room and bar, Bun House specializes in steamed buns, with the interior resembling a casual street-side cafe in Hong Kong. Go in the morning , get a window seat, order a pork belly bun and a sweet salted egg lava bun. That’s a wonderful start to the day with a pot of hot tea.

 

Good Friend Chicken - 14 Little Newport St, London WC2H 7JJ

Why do London’s night owls queue for burgers or kebabs? Certainly the best thing to soak up alcohol is fried chicken, especially when the portions here are as big as your face.

 

Bakeries and desserts

roomChinatown Bakery

In contrast to the sourdough that’s so popular amongst London’s artisan bakeries, Cantonese breads are usually more sweet and soft. Often made with enriched dough, they're filled with a wide range of savoury or sweet fillings. Nowadays you can also find twists on some classics like added red bean paste and mochi to pineapple buns.

 

Chinatown Bakery - 7-9 Newport Pl, London WC2H 7JR

There are two branches of ‘Chinatown Bakery’ in Chinatown which are only two minutes walk apart - this shows how high the demand is when it comes to their golden shiny buns. During the weekends, the staff literally cannot refill the trays of cocktail buns and pineapple buns fast enough. Prepare to queue.

 

Tsujiri Matcha House - 33 Newport Ct, London WC2H 7PQ

This longstanding Japanese matcha dessert chain has recently expanded its empire to a few northern cities like Manchester and Liverpool. Expect to find matcha mochi, soft serves, cakes and seasonal drinks.

 

Five Friends Desserts - 12 Little Newport St, London WC2H 7JJ 

This is a place of pilgrimage for homesick HongKongers. It is a real test when it comes to ordering as there are just so many choices. Go for a bowl of cold and refreshing fruit-based sweet soup like grapefruit mango sago in the summer, or warm and nourishing chestnut red bean paste soup in the winter.

 

Yolkin - 24 Rupert St, London W1D 6DQ

Ice cream sandwiches are not a new thing, but it is extra fun to be able to mix-and-match cute macaron discs with seasonal ice cream flavors; and who could fail to love a panda macaron and cookie and cream ice cream sandwich?

 

Cherry is a London based supper club host specialising in Cantonese home cooking. Born in Hong Kong, Cherry grew up watching her grandfather and aunts cooking large family feasts for Chinese celebrations. She started her popular supper club in SE London in 2012. She has also contributed photographs and articles for websites and cafes. You can follow her passion for cooking and photography via her Instagram account FeedTheTang.

 

 

 

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