Whether you're a dim sum daredevil or a play-it-safe type, you'll find London's thriving dim sum scene has something for you. Do you agree with the choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
Top five dim sum restaurants in Chinatown
Never tried xiao long bau? These Shanghainese dumplings, sometimes called ‘soup dumplings’, are steamed parcels containing both filling and ‘broth’ – so make sure you pop them in your mouth in one go. Here they’re a house speciality, prepared by a line-up of chefs behind a glass pane. Skip past the ‘spicy pork’ version (made to a mouth-numbingly hot Sichuan recipe) and keep it classic with the likes of plain pork (the broth a heady ginger infusion), or vegetarian (this time with a garlicky number). Elsewhere, there are thick squares of moreish fried turnip cake and quivering cheung fun (stuffed rice pasta).Read more
Though this Chinatown veteran isn’t as reliable as it once was, and the surroundings look a little tired, it’s still worth a visit, if only once. Don those rose-tinted glasses and picture it in its heyday: from the long approach over a dinky carp-filled pond to the double-height ceilings at the front. Though we’ve had dishes that were a touch doughy or bland, we’ve seen moments of brilliance too: from the perfection of a steamed prawn and chive dumpling, with its delicate case and aromatic filling; to moreish Vietnamese spring rolls, the golden deep-fried casing giving way to a dense, meaty centre.Book now Read more
Terrifying and brilliant in equal measure, Joy King Lau is run in the manner of a mass-market sports shoe outlet. Having been ushered into the large space (spread over several floors), you can sit, slack-jawed, as your order is conveyed via walkie talkie and headsets to the kitchen, who respond in kind by sending plates into the dining room via motorised dumbwaiter. By comparison, the decor and menu are fairly old-fashioned, but none the worse for it. Dim sum is excellent, from the huge (and hugely good value) single parcel of glutinous rice, to the crisp edges of the grilled dried shrimp cheung fun.Read more
One of the few places in town to still offer a dim sum trolley service, this old-timer is about as close as you’ll get to the frenetic pace of lunchtime in Hong Kong. It looks the part, too, with hanging lanterns adorning huge red and gold dining rooms spread over several floors. One highlight from the trolley was the full-flavoured chunks of char sui (roast pork) stuffed generously into fat rolls of rice noodles (though the pastry itself lacked the correct amount of elasticity) – this inconsistency was a theme of our visit, but given the low prices and traditional ambience, New World remains worth a punt.Read more
There may be roast ducks dangling in the window, but this is the smartest of the three Young Chens, complete with proper tablecloths and dark glossy furnishings. The laminated picture menu acts as a handy ‘Dim Sum for Dummies’, while the availability of more obscure dishes (curried octopus, satayed whelk) will satisfy those in search of adventure. It’s not all perfect, with low points including our tepid taro croquettes, but other dishes, such as the generously filled glutinous rice parcel and a set of shimmering steamed dumplings packed with sweet prawns, chopped chives and tiny diced water chestnuts, were worth returning for, especially given the keen pricing.Read more
Top five dim sum restaurants elsewhere in London
A far cry from the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, this restaurant on the Royal Garden Hotel’s 10th floor is a serene spot to enjoy high-end Cantonese cooking. Take in the views across Kensington Gardens while choosing from classic dim sum. It may play it safe – you won’t find any chickens’ feet or ducks’ tongues here – but is none the worse for it, with every item, from our beautifully textured seafood and pumpkin steamed dumpling to our crisp-edged pork, prawn and asparagus rolls, exceeding expectations. But these standards, combined with stellar service, come at a price: expect a bill that’s double what you’d pay on Gerrard Street.Book now Read more
Dark and swanky, with a jazzy cocktail bar and slick staff, this Cantonese expert in ‘new Paddington’ is good for a business lunch, though you don’t need an expense account to go for dim sum. Our favourites include the steamed dumplings, from one with a meaty pork and watercress filling to a clever pumpkin and ‘mock shark’ option – where slippery pieces of al dente noodles stood in for slivers of controversial fin. Elsewhere, there are prawn dumplings laced with modish wasabi and steamed ox tripe dumplings cut with ginger and spring onion. If you can’t decide, the £10.80 for 10 items ‘dim sum sampler’ remains a winner.Book now Read more
Tucked away on a quiet North Marylebone side street, this opulent Cantonese restaurant caters to all-comers. By night, luxurious and exotic ingredients (from abalone to ostrich) can be teamed up with pricey French wines, but by day, the high-quality, excellent-value dim sum is a reason to visit in itself. There’s a varied selection, from dependable favourites (roast pork buns; steamed vegetable dumplings; deep-fried sesame-crusted prawn rolls); to lesser-seen options (octopus patty) or the more traditional (black egg and salty congee); all of which deliver on freshness, taste and texture – belying the speed at which they exit the kitchen.Read more
Thanks to its well-staffed dining room, upmarket interiors and smart Mayfair address, the a la carte prices at this Northern Chinese restaurant are unsurprisingly on the steep side, but come lunchtime and the Cantonese dim sum menu, and it’s an altogether more affordable affair. On our visit, steamed chicken and mushroom buns combined a depth of flavour with a light, bouncy texture, while a trio of giant rice noodles came stuffed with tender pieces of beef, a scattering of enoki mushrooms and tiny pieces of diced water chestnut. Is it fit for a princess? Absolutely.Book now Read more
This original – and for many, still the best – branch of Royal China is a crowd-pleasing middleman. Vibrant enough to compete with Chinatown on atmosphere, the upmarket gold and black interiors also makes it smart enough for special occasions – but without breaking the bank. This especially applies at lunchtime, when the great-value dim sum means that weekend queues are a norm. Recent favourites include lacy-edged taro croquettes, their starchy casing giving way to a juicy, meaty centre and the impeccably-crafted steamed dumplings, their opaque, stretchy casings holding in fillings such as sweet, juicy prawns and fragrant chopped chives.Read more
Venue says: You can now book for bottomless brunch at Mr Bao! See our website for our full brunch menu.
Anyone with a social media account knows what a bao is by now: these fluffy white pseudo-sandwiches occupy more collective screen space than the aubergine emoji. The tipping point came last spring when street food trader Bao opened a dedicated restaurant in Soho and created the sort of queue you’d associate with Alton Towers. Twelve months on, Taiwanese snacks are now a full-on London food trend, and first to the punch in south-east London is Mr Bao, a pocket-sized restaurant from one of the owners of Miss Tapas, which serves better-than-solid Spanish food on nearby Choumert Road. It’s not just the food that’s on-trend – between the naked bulbs and functional decor, this looks exactly how you’d expect a buzz-surfing restaurant in a fast-gentrifying area to look. It’s becoming a tired aesthetic, but souvenirs from the Far East and an Asian-only beer policy add character. But how about them buns? The first thing to note is their size – they’re a good 50 percent bigger than you’d find in town, yet are similarly priced around the £4 mark. There are five to try, plus a selection of sides and gooey bao s’more for dessert. They even do brunch. Fillings focus on pan-Asian flavours: shiitake mushrooms with teriyaki and fried chicken with wasabi mayo and kimchi. Options like slow-cooked lamb with mint or prawn with guacamole reveal international influence. I tried the whole lot and found not a dud among them; every single ingredient – from zingy pickled bits to punchy dressings – mak