Not to be confused with its bargain-basement siblings on Wardour Street and Shaftesbury Avenue (respectively specialising in buffet dining and one-bowl dishes), this branch of the Young Cheng mini-group is, by Chinatown standards, a smart, sit-down affair. Sure, there are roast ducks dangling in the window, but there are also proper tablecloths (without any tell-tale disposable overlay), dark glossy furniture, and pretty red lanterns casting a glow down the long, lean room.
Efficient, welcoming staff serve up a wide array of Cantonese fare, but it’s the simplest dishes that remain the most popular, with bowls of steaming noodles (around £5.50) drawing groups of Chinese students and retirees, while many of the rest come for daily dim sum.
On our visit, the cooking was hit and miss. Low points included a stodgy and slightly tepid taro croquette; and sesame paper prawn rolls that had spent too long in a pan of underheated oil, emerging greasy rather than golden, but there was plenty of excellence, too.
Our moist, sticky ‘glutinous rice parcel’, with its generous, meaty filling (a chunk of Chinese sausage here, a morsel of chicken or shrimp there) impressed, as did a well-executed basket of sui mai (a classic dumpling quartet, here made with tightly minced pork and crab meat); and a set of shimmering steamed dumplings, densely packed with sweet prawns, chopped chives and tiny diced water chestnuts. As at its siblings, prices are resolutely low (with most dishes hovering at the £2.80 mark), so while this Lisle Street restaurant may sometimes lack finesse, its fans feel you can afford to overlook the odd blip.