So many chopstick and rice parlours; so hard to know which one to choose. But Time Out’s food and drink reviewers have eaten at all of them – many times, over many years – to produce this definitive list on the best places to eat, including traditional dim sum parlours and eateries doing modern takes on classic Oriental cuisine.
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Where to eat in Chinatown
Dispelling misconceptions about Chinese food and educating the masses on proper Chinese food one book at a time, Sichuan food expert Fuchsia Dunlop has also left her mark on the menu of this newest addition to the Barshu, Ba Shan and Baozi Inn restaurant group. Dishes are true to Sichuan form here, robust with an abundance of dried chillies, Sichuan pepper and fragrant garlic.Read more
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. The kitchen occasionally gets things wrong, but when it’s on song – which is often – the food is spicy, delicious and cheap.Read more
It’s not unusual to see a big menu in Chinatown, but such a vast repertoire seems impossible from a kitchen galley the size of an origami boat. Not so, because dishes from Hong Kong, mainland China and the diaspora are all produced competently, and some of them with commendable aplomb. TPT isn’t the cheapest of the budget Chinatown cafés, but both cooking and service are better than you might expect.Read more
This plainly furnished Chinatown veteran seems be getting even more ragged around the edges. But don’t be misled by looks: Canton has become reliable once again for one-bowl dishes of rice-with-meat or noodles-with-meat. Service is friendly and accommodating by Chinatown standards – we watched in admiration as staff tried to find something suitable for two elderly and rather demanding vegetarians.Read more
Famed for their Cantonese-style roast duck, this modest restaurant displays barbecued meats – pork ribs, pork belly and whole ducks – in the window facing busy Wardour Street. Of the two Four Seasons in Chinatown, this branch has the friendlier service. Four Seasons is a decent restaurant for a late night meal in central London that wouldn't burn a hole in your pocket.Read more
The interior is bigger than the narrow frontage suggests; staff will hasten you towards any unoccupied booth seating. The menu covers Chinese standards, such as roast duck (impressively succulent), but on our last visit we were most struck by the generosity of the seafood (scallops, carved squid) in a noodle dish. Everything was perfectly cooked and the service was gracious, which is reflected in the prices being a little higher than the Wardour Street norm.Read more
A small wooden bridge spanning an ornamental fish pond, warm wood panelling, kind lighting and a second floor offering a view of the dining room below set this Cantonese stalwart apart from all others in Chinatown. The food is reliable, authentic and of decent quality. Portions can be rather miserly, however, especially given the high prices compared to rivals in the neighbourhood. Then again, Imperial China appears to get away with it. The relatively handsome and comfortable decor, accessible location and clean toilets seem to keep the venue consistently popular among both Chinese and Western diners.Book now Read more
This green-painted café occupies a prominent Chinatown corner site where you can often watch the cooks sitting in front of the windows wrapping the hand-made dumplings. There are plenty of other dishes served at this simple, no-frills café, from buttered toast through barbecued pork to Hong Kong-style tea and Taiwanese-style bubble teas, but it’s the freshly-made dumplings that keep us coming back.Read more
They offer a single concept: ‘Taiwanese’ cooking in tea house surrounds. In truth, the menus are dominated by Cantonese dishes, with just a sprinkling of Taiwanese options, but the decor delivers – doing away with white tablecloths and round tables in favour of dark woods and carved latticework. The cooking isn’t always as successful; however, the full-flavoured one-bowl dishes (such as dark, sticky pork belly on a huge mound of steamed rice) offer terrific value, and are reason to visit alone.Read more
The hearty cuisine of north-eastern China is rare in London, but Manchurian Legends – which since summer 2012 has been ensconced in these folksy little premises – specialises in the food. The menu, brought by young smiling waitresses, is long and enticing, with robust meat and offal dishes dominating. Lamb, wheat (rather than rice) and hotpots characterise the cookery. Alternatively, there’s a fine choice of fried dumplings.Read more
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A live entertainment venue and late night bar at the Hippodrome Casino, Leicester Square. Today it's somewhere that references the Hippodrome's long, often illustrious past, with performances taking in a varied selection of live music, magic, cabaret, comedy theatre and tribute acts. Expect, then, nights including Mlss Polly Rae's Soho Burlesque Club, Elvis in Vegas, male vocalists The 4Tunes and regular shows from Ratpack in Vegas - including their popular Christmas special. Many evenings are bookable with a pre-theatre meal, too. Keep an eye out for charity fundraising nights, sports screenings, musical theatre and performances from emerging artists and established stars, too.