Someone's gone to a lot of trouble to make this Chinatown cocktail bar and 'dim sum parlour' look shabby. The design is Eastern smoking den meets Western hipster hangout, with Chinese vases and burning incense mixed with deep funky beats and retro armchairs straight from granny’s sitting room. Be sure to visit the loo: there are motion-activated lights and the speakers will blast you with terrifyingly loud Mandarin announcements.
It’s all very theatrical – but that’s nothing compared to the drinks. The signature Opium Cocktail No.1 is poured into a crimson dry ice-based vessel at the table for maximum effect. So while you may not be smoking, your glass is. A heady, syrupy concoction of two kinds of rum, a lick of absinthe, mandarin juice, kaffir lime syrup and a mini-shot of liquid ginseng, it doesn’t taste half bad, either.
To eat, there's dim sum. Strictly speaking, yum cha is a lunchtime food, but they’re not playing by the rules here. Of the steamed dumplings we sampled, the dough could have been a little thinner, but the ingredients (such as sweet, juicy prawns with crushed water chestnuts and slices of chives), were bang on the yuan.
Another plus is that the place is open very late - until 3am at weekends, with food served until 2.30am.
To find Opium, look for the jade-coloured door on Gerrard Street, close to Chinatown’s main gate. And don’t be scared of the bouncer. He’s a real sweetheart.
'The Jade Door' 15-16 Gerrard Street
|Opening hours:||Open 5pm-midnight Mon, Tue; 5pm-1am Wed; 5pm-2am Thur; 5pm-3am Fri, Sat; 2-10.30pm Sun|
|Transport:||Tube: Leicester Square|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
4.2 / 5
- 5 star:10
- 4 star:3
- 3 star:4
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:1
We arrived 20minutes before our booked timeslot but due to Opium’s popularity they asked us to come back at the correct time. Fair enough – and they kindly gave us an umbrella so we could wander round rainy Chinatown!
When we returned our table wasn’t quite ready so we were offered a complementary ‘mystery shot’ at the bar. It wasn’t long til our table was ready are we were moved to our comfy armchairs on the top floor Academy bar lounge.
Drinks arrived in themed cups (Ox for the Ox cocktail…and a rooster for the Rabbit cocktail?!?!) and were utterly delicious. But at £14 a drink we only stayed for the one.
I booked this for a work function last night before a film screening and it was a total success. Food was ready on arrival, drinks quick to arrive, waiters attentive and funny and the booking easy peasy. I've always loved this place to take friends visiting London - but I can now vouch for it for a professional gathering also - thank you Opium! Superstars. You made me look very good at my job :)
Had an amazing Friday night and absolutely loved Opium & waitress who was serving us.
Unfortunately, I forgot my bag at the bar and realised it only on Sunday afternoon. I called the bar and the manager said that they don’t have my bag; however he promised to check with my waitress and will get back to me. I never received a call back and I had to call more than 15 times to get hold of someone. The manager confirmed one more time that they don’t have my bag.
On Tuesday, I went to Opium to check again. Manager confirmed one more time that they don’t have my bag. However, I asked to speak to my waitress who was serving me on Friday. The waitress recognised me and said that she knows where my bag is. She was very helpful and she made an effort to find my bag, which I really appreciate.
I was shocked the way the manager dealt with this situation. He obviously, never tried to look or find out where the bag was. He never got back to me and he never spoke to my waitress, although he promised. Also, I never received a reply to my email that I sent on Sunday afternoon. He hasn’t apologised and the fact that my bag found so easily when in my presence was totally ignored from his side.
Wishing I could order at least two of everything from the menu, I bowed to a distorted sense of social decorum by ordering only one Dim Sum Platter (£16), though with the extra single baskets of Cantonese Barbeque Pork Bun (£6), Pork & Prawn Dumplings (£6.50), and King Prawn Dumplings (£7), perhaps this is still a lot between 3 girls! Now, this is not the cheapest venture I've had into dim sum, but for the mildly secretive location, the scented ambient décor and inventive concept, I'll hold my toungue and prepare the plastic! That said though, and not unlike any other establishment of its kind, you could definitely eat here without breaking the bank; if however, you eat while guzzling cocktails, be prepared to have your bank manager on speed dial as you flex said plastic! With cocktails ranging from £10.50 to £18, you should probably sip instead of swim, but despite the prices, each glass is a lovingly prepared and well invented concoction, some admittedly more theatrical and flamboyant than others, but all undoubtedly tasty.
I loved it here the first time I came, not long after it opened in December 2012, and I love it still...bookings only though folks!
Read my full review here: http://thetrusocial.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/dim-sum-den.html
Brilliant find. Love the dim sums and some of the best cocktails in London. I was here for a Christmas party last weekend and really enjoyed it. Looking forward to trying it again with a smaller group of people.
Fantastic bar - the staff couldn't be friendlier and the drinks couldn't be better. The level of attention to detail for the 'fancy drinks' is really quite something. Definitely one where you need to book in advance, and not cheap, but very much worth the effort for a special night out.
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