Chinese Londoners make up one of the city’s oldest immigrant communities: we’ve been settling here since the 1880s. The original Chinatown was in Limehouse, full of seafaring men from Canton and South China; the bustling area became notorious for opium dens. But it suffered heavily during the Blitz and the post-war slump in shipping. A new wave of immigration (mainly from Hong Kong) in the ’70s established the current Chinatown.
These days London is home to people from many more regions, spread across the boroughs, and it has perhaps the most exciting array of Chinese cuisines available in one city outside of China: Hunanese, Taiwanese, Cantonese, Sichuanese and more. We’ve even got a second Chinatown in Bayswater. From DIY hotpot restaurants and dim sum parlours to cafés, street food stalls and high-end restaurants, you could try a different Chinese meal every day for a month here and still have a lengthy ‘to eat’ list. Lizzie Mabbott
Did you know? Chinese New Year is based on the lunar calendar. The Year of the Rooster starts on January 28, and it’s a particularly important year for anyone born in 1957.
Lizzie’s favourite Chinese spots in London
Founded in Brixton Market, Mama Lan now serves Beijing street food at six sites, and its fried chicken is still the best in town.
It’s all about the spicy biang biang noodles at Shaanxi-style restaurant Xi’an Impression in Holloway. And the cold noodles. And the braised pork or lamb ‘burgers’. In fact, we’re into pretty much the entire menu.
At first glance, the tiny Happy Lemon café in Newport Court seems bonkers. Rock-salted cheese drinks? Really? But the frothy teas, matcha lattes and desserts are delicious.
The doyen of the Chinatown supermarkets is See Woo. Check out the equipment store downstairs, and the new seafood counter selling live crabs and lobsters.
Tucked away on Margaret Street in a former Anglican church is Fo Guang Shan Buddhist temple. Visit when it’s busy, especially during Chinese New Year or the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Take a cookery class at School of Wok in Covent Garden and transcend basic stir-fries forever.
The best of Chinese London, according to you
‘Sichuan Folk near Brick Lane.’ Mark M via Facebook
‘Lo’s Noodle Factory in Chinatown. The best place to buy your fresh ho fun, cheung fun and my favourite: lor bak gao.’ Will F via Facebook
‘Wong Kei wins hands down.’ Alan T via Facebook
‘Gerrard’s Corner in Chinatown for dim sum.’ Kevin G via Facebook