Opium

Bars and pubs Chinatown
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(14 user reviews)
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Someone's gone to a lot of trouble to make this Chinatown cocktail bar and 'dim sum parlour' look shabby. The design is Eastern smoking den meets Western hipster hangout, with Chinese vases and burning incense mixed with deep funky beats and retro armchairs straight from granny’s sitting room. Be sure to visit the loo: there are motion-activated lights and the speakers will blast you with terrifyingly loud Mandarin announcements.

It’s all very theatrical – but that’s nothing compared to the drinks. The signature Opium Cocktail No.1 is poured into a crimson dry ice-based vessel at the table for maximum effect. So while you may not be smoking, your glass is. A heady, syrupy concoction of two kinds of rum, a lick of absinthe, mandarin juice, kaffir lime syrup and a mini-shot of liquid ginseng, it doesn’t taste half bad, either.

To eat, there's dim sum. Strictly speaking, yum cha is a lunchtime food, but they’re not playing by the rules here. Of the steamed dumplings we sampled, the dough could have been a little thinner, but the ingredients (such as sweet, juicy prawns with crushed water chestnuts and slices of chives), were bang on the yuan.

Another plus is that the place is open very late - until 3am at weekends, with food served until 2.30am.

To find Opium, look for the jade-coloured door on Gerrard Street, close to Chinatown’s main gate. And don’t be scared of the bouncer. He’s a real sweetheart.

Venue name: Opium
Contact:
Address: 'The Jade Door' 15-16 Gerrard Street
London
W1D 6JE
Opening hours: Open 5pm-midnight Mon, Tue; 5pm-1am Wed; 5pm-2am Thur; 5pm-3am Fri, Sat; 2-10.30pm Sun
Transport: Tube: Leicester Square
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Average User Rating

4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:6
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:3
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|14
1 person listening
elladacas
tastemaker

FINALLY!!!!

this place had been on my to do list since the mad cow disease got loose! Ok ok maybe not that long. A friend brought us here and man I could've kissed her!

We were told to go to the second floor and the second floor it was! I expected so much more from the decor I must say. Oriental vibes and a by dark rich colours but what I saw was a basic dark looking bar :(

I ordered the infamous Opium #6 and man it didn't disappoint! The theatrics ,smell and look just left me giggly and elated.. The taste was lovely!!! Velvety smoothness down my throat! So so so good! My friend's drink was no way close to what I ordered in both looks and taste so I can't say much for their menu but I will say the one I ordered is worth the visit!

Clemie
Tastemaker

I revisited recently, a good two years since my first trip here. In my memory, it was a very exciting place – dark lit and moody, with inventive cocktails served in unusual vessels – a atmospheric Chinese opium bar of the 1920s. Whilst the surroundings remain, at the moment the shabby chic is looking a little tired, and in need of a lick of paint.

Best visited when it’s dark outside and candlelit inside – the bright, sunny evening somewhat ruined the ambience.

Cocktails are good, but still on the pricey side - £12 ish plus service charge.

We were gifted some free dim sum from our wonderful waitress when surplus had been ordered, which was obviously excellent as it was free, but I’d have probably been a little disappointed with the execution had I paid full price.

Probably still worth a visit, but there are probably better date bars out there – try 65 Colebrooke Row, Oriole or Experimental Cocktail Club. 

LoveLondon
Tastemaker

I crave dim sum at night, unlike the rest of the population. 

It's difficult to find places in London that serve decent dim sum, let alone at 11pm. Now, I wouldn't compare their food to Yauatcha's, but you get your cravings satisfied and it's not half as bad as some of the places on Gerard street that serve during the day.

Cocktails are delicious at a good price. Some parts of the place can be a little smelly, but it is a bar in an old building in Soho after all. Enjoy this place in moderation, there's a chance it can get old fast.

Lise M
Tastemaker

Another hidden gem in the heart of Chinatown! If London is well-known for being one of the world capital of cocktails, it's certainly because no other city is able to offer so much choices in term of cocktail bars. Opium is one of them with a concept combining delicious dim-sums and innovative cocktails inspired by Chinese medicine. The atmosphere is  as in a Marguerite Duras’ novel and the decoration makes us travel to Asia with exotic taspestries and asian styled lamps. The bartenders are amazing and very friendly. As we had no booking we sat at the bar and it was a great experience to follow the preparation of their concoctions. I definitely recommend this cocktails bar for drinks with friends or a date. 

Erika R

Had an amazing Friday night and absolutely loved Opium & waitress who was serving us.


Unfortunately, I forgot my bag at the bar and realised it only on Sunday afternoon. I called the bar and the manager said that they don’t have my bag; however he promised to check with my waitress and will get back to me. I never received a call back and I had to call more than 15 times to get hold of someone. The manager confirmed one more time that they don’t have my bag.


On Tuesday, I went to Opium to check again. Manager confirmed one more time that they don’t have my bag. However, I asked to speak to my waitress who was serving me on Friday. The waitress recognised me and said that she knows where my bag is. She was very helpful and she made an effort to find my bag, which I really appreciate.


I was shocked the way the manager dealt with this situation. He obviously, never tried to look or find out where the bag was. He never got back to me and he never spoke to my waitress, although he promised. Also, I never received a reply to my email that I sent on Sunday afternoon. He hasn’t apologised and the fact that my bag found so easily when in my presence was totally ignored from his side.

Very frustrating.

Nicky G
Tastemaker

The atmosphere gets better the more stairs you climb at this place - head straight to the top bar for stuffed leather armchairs, candlelight and vintage brown glass Chinese apothecary bottles on wooden cabinets. Recommend celebrating World Champagne day any day with A Kiss From A Rose cocktail (£12) - champagne, vodka, rose water and some other stuff that made for a very delicious drink. Goes well mushroom truffle dim sum.

Poppy L
Tastemaker

I discovered Opium through a friend about a year ago and have since taken various visiting friends and relatives! It feels like an amazing secret in London with its dark staircase and minimalist entrance. The cocktails are great and feature spice and tea influences and the twists on dim sum (such as mushroom and truffle) are fresh and delicious. Last week I had the dim sum platter with friends and it was some of the best I've had! My one criticism is that the staff are a little uptight with their radio devices. It can take away from the chilled out atmosphere. The toilets are a 5/10!

Sheens86
Tastemaker

This is a wonderful little bar! Smack bang in the middle of Chinatown, hidden in plain sight! If you arrive a little later, its entrance is given away by the burly doorman standing in front of an otherwise unassuming, ordinary green door.

The bar is up a couple of flights of stairs with a few dark enclaves for a romantic night or a booth table near the window for a night with friends!

The dim sum platter was perfect for the two of us and extremely tasty, the mushroom and truffle dumpling was also really good.

Cocktails wise, my favourites were 1927 Sour, Nuclear Pina Colada and Zennor’s Fizz. The staff are awesome too, highly recommend this bar!

theTRUsocial

Wishing I could order at least two of everything from the menu, I bowed to a distorted sense of social decorum by ordering only one Dim Sum Platter (£16), though with the extra single baskets of Cantonese Barbeque Pork Bun (£6), Pork & Prawn Dumplings (£6.50), and King Prawn Dumplings (£7), perhaps this is still a lot between 3 girls! Now, this is not the cheapest venture I've had into dim sum, but for the mildly secretive location, the scented ambient décor and inventive concept, I'll hold my toungue and prepare the plastic! That said though, and not unlike any other establishment of its kind, you could definitely eat here without breaking the bank; if however, you eat while guzzling cocktails, be prepared to have your bank manager on speed dial as you flex said plastic! With cocktails ranging from £10.50 to £18, you should probably sip instead of swim, but despite the prices, each glass is a lovingly prepared and well invented concoction, some admittedly more theatrical and flamboyant than others, but all undoubtedly tasty. 


I loved it here the first time I came, not long after it opened in December 2012, and I love it still...bookings only though folks!


Read my full review here: http://thetrusocial.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/dim-sum-den.html

Ian Gosling

Brilliant find. Love the dim sums and some of the best cocktails in London. I was here for a Christmas party last weekend and really enjoyed it. Looking forward to trying it again with a smaller group of people.

Mmm cocktails

Fantastic bar - the staff couldn't be friendlier and the drinks couldn't be better. The level of attention to detail for the 'fancy drinks' is really quite something. Definitely one where you need to book in advance, and not cheap, but very much worth the effort for a special night out.