Whether you’re craving hand-pulled noodles for one, lunchtime dim sum or late-night cocktails in a subterranean bar, our gourmet guide will help you enjoy London’s Chinatown at its most delicious.

Tucked between Soho and Leicester Square, Chinatown can be a daunting sight; a milieu of shopfronts. When searching for a restaurant, does one opt for modern decor, with the expectation of a sophisticated menu, or choose to believe what you’ve heard, that the dingiest space is bound to have the most “authentic” food. Does the “best roast duck” sign in the window really ring true?

Though London’s Chinatown is not as sprawling and residential as it’s American equivalents, the Paifang arches of Gerrard Street lead to kitchens that reflect regional cuisines from across China, including familiar Cantonese flavours and perhaps less familiar Xi’an noodles, roaring with hot red oil and the numbing menthol of Szechuan pepper. Scattered among these spots you can find dishes as diverse as sushi, bibimbap, bao and laksa, as well as cocktails worth climbing five flights of stairs.

The eight best places to eat and drink in London’s Chinatown

Bun House

From the team behind Wun’s, this casual steamed-bun spot has Instagrammable interiors to rival it’s big sister and serves some of the best Cantonese bao in the city – the perfect takeaway snack. Try the char sui “Pig Bun” and the cumin-spiced lamb or, for something sweet, the custard bun is a famously messy, indulgent dessert. It’s not all about bao, however; Bun House has a few more strings to its bow – namely the curried fish balls and, if you’re feeling adventurous, the spicy, fried chilli tripe. To drink, there’s a rotating selection of bottled beers from Hong Kong craft breweries which you won’t find anywhere else.

Dumplings Legend

One of Chinatown’s best-loved institutions, Dumplings Legend was serving xiao long bao (soup dumplings) years before the first influencer joined the queue outside Din Tai Fung. These rice dumplings, containing a rich stock, as well as a pork-and-prawn filling, are impressive in flavour and technical expertise; they can’t fail to induce wonder at the magic of both. In China, dim sum is a day-time food, so go for lunch, when the full tick-box menu is on offer. Crispy-fried cheung fun similarly balances opposing textures, with thick blankets of rice noodle swaddling prawns in a thin, crunchy pastry.

Café TPT

Specialising in Tai Pai Tong, or Hong Kong hawker cuisine, Cafe TPT are masters of Chinese comfort food, inspired by the markets and stalls of the city. It has garnered a cult following in recent years for its Macau-style breaded pork chops and bechamel, adored by critics Giles Coren and Jay Rayner, but its noodle soups are also outstanding, especially the beef brisket and seafood bowls. Service runs like clockwork, with manager Rex presiding over the homely dining room while coordinating a stream of takeaway customers who come for their specialist teas and tapioca drinks.

Opium

Hidden three floors above street level, Opium is accessed by a jade doorway, through which you’ll discover some of the best cocktails in London. Perfect for an after-dinner tipple or a sultry date night, the space resembles a Hong Kong speakeasy, adorned with dimly lit lamps and paper screens. Its three rooms house three unique bars – the Apothecary, Peony and Academy – each with its own list of Chinese-inspired cocktails. From the Peony’s menu, try the “Hong Kong”, with cognac and sake, garnished with a cloud of perfume, or the rye whisky-based “Yinchuan”, smoked in a rice basket with Hickory wood.

Lanzhou Lamian Noodle Bar

Don’t be put off by the throng of customers at this all-day, late-night noodle bar. Push past the takeaway bar, where it serves middle-of-the-road takeaway classics, and take a seat on one of the communal tables. On your way through the narrow thoroughfare, dodging exiting customers and frantic staff, take a look to the right, and you’ll see what draws the crowds: a chef expertly hand pulling noodles. They acrobatically swing and twist long, thick belts of dough, and give them an occasional slap against the kitchen counter, which shakes nearby chopsticks and gives the noodles their “biang biang” name. To navigate the menu, look bottom right, where you’ll find a grid of options, including the style of noodle, cooking method and toppings. Opt for the la mian egg noodles in broth, or the dao xiao mian stir fried. If you’re with company, fat, fried dumplings and Xinjiang lamb and cumin skewers make perfect sharing dishes, but this place really is a haven for solo diners, ideal for escaping the West End crowds with a healing bowl of noodles.

  • +44 20 7836 4399
  • 33 Cranbourn Street
    WC2H 7AD

Wun’s Tea Room & Bar

Wun’s is a restaurant and cocktail bar, and draws inspiration from the colonial tea rooms of mid-century Hong Kong. It has a kind of transportative power, most potently in the subterranean tea room, where a neon sign throws a dreamy glow on diners, and the tiled floors, vintage glassware and basket-weave chairs all speak in an impressive uniformity of visual language. Cocktails, arranged on a menu which imitates an old newspaper, are faultless. Try the smoky “Dates & Barley” with Taiwanese whisky or a fresh, delicate “Shiso & Cucumber” and savour them before moving on to the food menu. Coming for the drinks alone is of course an option, but the osmanthus pickled tomatoes and XO bone marrow are excellent small plates to accompany drinks, and balance each other well. Lardo-fried shallot rice also stuns, crisped in a clay pot, with a surprisingly influential touch of umami. The tea room stays open until around 3am on a Saturday, so come here for a flatteringly lit, late-night jaunt.

Bake

Another spot for a snack, this unassuming bakery specialises in taiyaki, meaning “baked sea bream”, aka filled waffles in the shape of fish, which originate in Japan. Common fillings include custard, cheese and sweet potato, but at Bake the most popular order among westerners is the Nutella version. Other delicacies here include a sweet pork bun – like a soft bread roll filled with sweet char siu pork – and pandan cake, a luminous green sponge with a soft, airy texture and flavour similar to coconut. Come here for enchanting shelves of simple comfort food.

Rasa Sayang

Rasa Sayang is one of Chinatown’s handful of Malaysian restaurants, with a concise menu of dishes from the peninsula, including some Siangaporean specialities. Go for the Hainanese chicken, poached in a fragrant stock and served white rice and sriracha, a deceptively simple staple of Malaysian cuisine. For something with a bit more heat, try roti canai, a complex chicken curry served with airy, flaky flatbreads or the “Raffles’ Singapore Laksa”, a thick rice-noodle soup with rich accoutrements, said to be taken from the recipe of the palatial, Raffles hotel.

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