Opium

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Chinatown

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: 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

Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:2
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|4
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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.