Baiwei means ‘100 flavours’ in Chinese, and it’s an apt name for this cosy place serving authentic, home-style Sichuan, Hunan and northern Chinese dishes. Along with Barshu, Ba Shan and Baozi Inn, it’s one of the Gang of Four masterminded by menu consultant Fuchsia Dunlop, Britain’s leading authority on Sichuan cooking. The key to these cuisines is flavour, in very robust doses: Dishes from the Southwest of China use dried chillies, Sichuan pepper and fragrant garlic in near-industrial quantities – stay away if you like it mild, or can’t abide chilli-fire. At Baiwei, ‘100 flavours’ translates as ‘100 ways to dazzle your taste buds’. Extra bonus: uncommonly friendly service.Read more
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Since opening in 2006, Barshu has done much to popularise Sichuan cuisine in London. The strong flavours of slow-cooked dongpo pork knuckle in chilli oil are typical of a cuisine that gives your taste buds an invigorating whack. Spice lovers we may be, but we still recommend avoiding the dishes marked as hot, because here they really mean it; we’re talking about chilli peppers by the wok-ful. Barshu remains an exceedingly charming venue, its decor modelled on that of an old Beijing teahouse, complete with elaborate woodcarvings and tasselled lanterns. Its owners also run two other restaurants nearby, Ba Shan, which champions northern dishes, and the cheaper Baozi Inn.Read more
Halfway up The Shard, this glitzy Hong Kong import offers high-end Chinese food with some of the best views of London. The smoulderingly stylish interior, with plenty of dark wood and red lanterns, makes Hutong a sophisticated dining spot for anyone aiming to impress their guests. Dishes are no less showy with the likes of deep-fried soft-shell crabs arriving in a huge bowl of fiery red chillies – the latter purely for decoration. Southwestern and Northern Chinese dishes less commonly seen on London menus are the main attraction, but there are also more familiar dishes such as crispy duck or steamed dumplings to choose from on the lunchtime dim sum list.Read more
Extensive both in size and menu, Phoenix Palace has over many years gained a reputation as a reliable venue to take business clients from the east. It’s not all suits and clenched-buttocked conformity, though: the ample round tables and lavishly decorated interior also accommodate wedding banquets and birthday parties. Menus for both lunchtime dim sum (a speciality) and evening are as experimental or quotidian as you like: from (excellent) har gau prawn dumplings to Chilean sea bass coated with crispy golden salted egg, and from fruity sweet-and-sour chicken to kangaroo in black pepper and honey sauce. Heavens, there’s even a vegan set menu.Read more
After all these years, the original Royal China branch still holds its position at the top table of London’s dim sum venues. Enter its glossy black-lacquered interior, where curling waves and geese in full flight embellish the walls, and deliberate over the menu of mouth-watering snacks. Glutinous rice in lotus leaf (wonderfully aromatic, full of delicious tidbits) will provide ballast for such delicacies as honey roast pork puffs (divine pastry) and scallop dumplings, as well as inspired creations from the specials list. The full menu has its attractions, too, including classic stewed pork belly hotpot.Read more
A pioneer of day-and-night dim sum, Yauatcha also broke with tradition by serving the snacks in sensual, stylish surroundings reminiscent of a nightclub. Head for the ground floor to sample exotic teas, pâtisserie and east-west fusion desserts, but descend to the basement for a slinky vibe, seductive drinks and beautiful plates of delicate treats. Main courses (steamed halibut with chilli and salted radish, for instance) hold allure, as do the renowned cocktails, but it’s the pricey, enticing dim sum that draw the oohs and ahhs: from venison puffs to lobster dumplings with tobiko caviar.Read more