Chopsticks at the ready! There’s Cantonese dim sum, classic Beijing-style roast duck, spicy Sichuan cuisine and plenty more to choose from in our round-up of London's best Chinese food. Do you agree with our choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
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The best Chinese restaurants in London
Baiwei means ‘a hundred flavours’ in Chinese and this Chinatown favourite exemplifies this attitude to Sichuanese food. There's a lengthy selection of authentic, home-style Sichuan, Hunan and northern dishes served with uncommonly friendly service. True to another Chinese saying, ‘China is the place for food, but Sichuan is the place for flavour’. This is true of Baiwei's food, typically robust with an abundance of dried chillies, Sichuan pepper and fragrant garlic. Boom.
At Baozi Inn, kitsch Communist Revolution decor meets northern Chinese street food tidied up for London. True to Sichuanese form, red is present in most dishes – if not as a slick of potent chilli oil, then in lashings of sliced or whole chillies. Dan dan noodles, cucumber salad and crescent dumplings are all good choices, especially when accompanied by fresh, unsweetened hot soy milk. The kitchen occasionally gets things wrong, but when it’s on song – which is often – the food is spicy, delicious and cheap.
Barshu (the original of a Sichuan quartet along with Ba Shan, Baozi Inn and newcomer Baiwei) is distinct from Chinatown’s mostly Cantonese restaurants in looks and pricing, as well as cuisine. The menu holds much interest, listing the likes of pea jelly, prairie tripe, and stir-fried chicken gizzards with pickled chilli. You’ll need to slake your thirst to counteract the fiery, numbing and sour flavours that characterise western Chinese cookery.
The menu in the window of Café TPT looks longer than the complete musings of Confucius. Dishes from Hong Kong, mainland China and the diaspora are all produced competently, and some of them with commendable aplomb. The Cantonese dishes tend to be better than the Malaysian ones: roast duck on rice was succulent, and a generous helping. A sizzling dish of stuffed tofu, served in a hot stone bowl, was a highlight.
In décor and cooking, Chinese Laundry is not just one of a kind but utterly wonderful. The focus is on period stuff brought over from China – people moving into modern flats, we were told, sold their old stuff for a song. The result is an entrancingly eccentric hotchpotch. Chinese Laundry has its own take not only on standard Chinese dishes but on western ideas as well.
The famed Soho purveyor of the golden trio of roasted meats: duck, char siu (barbecued pork) and siew yoke (crispy belly pork). Any of them – or all three – on a plate with rice is reason enough to return for more of the same, but it’s also worth trying other dishes on the extensive menu. Soya chicken is usually to be recommended, as are the stir-fried green beans with pork.
Gold Mine is so renowned for its roast meats – which can be seen hanging in the open kitchen by the front window – that diners from near and far can be seen tucking in here, both local students and visitors from Hong Kong. Top marks go to those Cantonese roast meats, especially the duck and char sui (barbecued pork).
More than a decade after it started wowing London’s big spenders with its classy Cantonese cooking, this Michelin-starred trendsetter remains a benchmark against which all high-end Chinese restaurants should be judged. Dazzling plates include signature dishes such as silver cod roasted in champagne, and jasmine tea-smoked organic pork ribs.
Beyond the opulent five-star hotels of Hong Kong, ‘Cantonese fine dining’ can seem an oxymoron. HKK reinvents the entire experience. The Hakkasan Group describes its latest venture as ‘bespoke Cantonese fine dining’. HKK serves up beautifully presented, exquisitely prepared dishes crafted from high-quality ingredients.
The original Hutong in Hong Kong is a glitzy, high-end Chinese restaurant with magnificent views, mainly patronised by expats and tourists. And this London branch of Hutong is exactly the same. The same Sichuan and northern Chinese menu, the same mix of plate glass and ersatz Old Beijing decor, the same hard chairs – even some of the staff are the same. What’s different about the Hong Kong and London kitchens is the level of spice; not meek, just toned down a bit for the gweilo (foreigner) palate.
Find the best restaurants in Chinatown
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
"Mr Bao has just been named in the top 15 brunches in London! Amazing. You can book by emailing us xx"