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London's best dim sum restaurants

We've parcelled up the best places serving up the Chinese speciality

Whether you're a dim sum daredevil or a play-it-safe type, you'll find London's thriving dim sum scene has something for you. Grab your chopsticks and get stuck in with these tempting Chinese snacks in Chinatown restaurants and beyond.

Top five dim sum restaurants in Chinatown

Dumplings' Legend

Never tried xiao long bau? These Shanghainese dumplings, sometimes called ‘soup dumplings’, are steamed parcels containing both filling and ‘broth’ ­­– so make sure you pop them in your mouth in one go. Here they’re a house speciality, prepared by a line-up of chefs behind a glass pane. Skip past the ‘spicy pork’ version (made to a mouth-numbingly hot Sichuan recipe) and keep it classic with the likes of plain pork (the broth a heady ginger infusion), or vegetarian (this time with a garlicky number). Elsewhere, there are thick squares of moreish fried turnip cake and quivering cheung fun (stuffed rice pasta).

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Chinatown

Imperial China

Though this Chinatown veteran isn’t as reliable as it once was, and the surroundings look a little tired, it’s still worth a visit, if only once. Don those rose-tinted glasses and picture it in its heyday: from the long approach over a dinky carp-filled pond to the double-height ceilings at the front. Though we’ve had dishes that were a touch doughy or bland, we’ve seen moments of brilliance too: from the perfection of a steamed prawn and chive dumpling, with its delicate case and aromatic filling; to moreish Vietnamese spring rolls, the golden deep-fried casing giving way to a dense, meaty centre.

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Chinatown

Joy King Lau

Terrifying and brilliant in equal measure, Joy King Lau is run in the manner of a mass-market sports shoe outlet. Having been ushered into the large space (spread over several floors), you can sit, slack-jawed, as your order is conveyed via walkie talkie and headsets to the kitchen, who respond in kind by sending plates into the dining room via motorised dumbwaiter. By comparison, the decor and menu are fairly old-fashioned, but none the worse for it. Dim sum is excellent, from the huge (and hugely good value) single parcel of glutinous rice, to the crisp edges of the grilled dried shrimp cheung fun.

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Leicester Square
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New World

One of the few places in town to still offer a dim sum trolley service, this old-timer is about as close as you’ll get to the frenetic pace of lunchtime in Hong Kong. It looks the part, too, with hanging lanterns adorning huge red and gold dining rooms spread over several floors. One highlight from the trolley was the full-flavoured chunks of char sui (roast pork) stuffed generously into fat rolls of rice noodles (though the pastry itself lacked the correct amount of elasticity) – this inconsistency was a theme of our visit, but given the low prices and traditional ambience, New World remains worth a punt.

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Chinatown

Gerrard's Corner

Dumplings are the star of the show at Gerrard's Corner, an unpretentious joint between Wardour Street and Gerrard Street. Prawn and chive dumplings are plump, sweet and packed out with fresh flavours, the perfect balance between elasticity and translucency. The rich crabmeat dumplings that followed are even better – served with a whole scallop balanced on top and cut through with with sweet, fresh cucumber. The restaurant is adorably retro too, so if you like dim sum with a side of nostalgia, Gerrard's is for you.

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Chinatown
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Top five dim sum restaurants elsewhere in London

Min Jiang

A far cry from the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, this restaurant on the Royal Garden Hotel’s 10th floor is a serene spot to enjoy high-end Cantonese cooking. Take in the views across Kensington Gardens while choosing from classic dim sum. It may play it safe – you won’t find any chickens’ feet or ducks’ tongues here ­– but is none the worse for it, with every item, from our beautifully textured seafood and pumpkin steamed dumpling to our crisp-edged pork, prawn and asparagus rolls, exceeding expectations. But these standards, combined with stellar service, come at a price: expect a bill that’s double what you’d pay on Gerrard Street.

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Kensington

My Neighbours the Dumplings

My Neighbours the Dumplings has adopted the dim sum dining style of shared small plates and given it a hip east London twist, combining traditional Chinese dishes with other popular Asian influences. But don't worry, these guys really do make excellent dumplings. The pastry is handmade and the meat (all free-range and from the Rare Breed Meat Company) tastes like actual meat rather than something you hope is pork. Vegetarians are very well catered for too, with plump steamed shiitake mushroom dumplings and fried aubergine and sesame ‘potstickers’ trumping their meaty counterparts.

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Lower Clapton

Pearl Liang

Dark and swanky, with a jazzy cocktail bar and slick staff, this Cantonese expert in ‘new Paddington’ is good for a business lunch, though you don’t need an expense account to go for dim sum. Our favourites include the steamed dumplings, from one with a meaty pork and watercress filling to a clever pumpkin and ‘mock shark’ option – where slippery pieces of al dente noodles stood in for slivers of controversial fin. Elsewhere, there are prawn dumplings laced with modish wasabi and steamed ox tripe dumplings cut with ginger and spring onion. If you can’t decide, the £10.80 for 10 items ‘dim sum sampler’ remains a winner.

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Paddington
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Phoenix Palace

Tucked away on a quiet North Marylebone side street, this opulent Cantonese restaurant caters to all-comers. By night, luxurious and exotic ingredients (from abalone to ostrich) can be teamed up with pricey French wines, but by day, the high-quality, excellent-value dim sum is a reason to visit in itself. There’s a varied selection, from dependable favourites (roast pork buns; steamed vegetable dumplings; deep-fried sesame-crusted prawn rolls); to lesser-seen options (octopus patty) or the more traditional (black egg and salty congee); all of which deliver on freshness, taste and texture – belying the speed at which they exit the kitchen.

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Marylebone

Royal China

This original – and for many, still the best – branch of Royal China is a crowd-pleasing middleman. Vibrant enough to compete with Chinatown on atmosphere, the upmarket gold and black interiors also makes it smart enough for special occasions – but without breaking the bank. This especially applies at lunchtime, when the great-value dim sum means that weekend queues are a norm. Recent favourites include lacy-edged taro croquettes, their starchy casing giving way to a juicy, meaty centre and the impeccably-crafted steamed dumplings, their opaque, stretchy casings holding in fillings such as sweet, juicy prawns and fragrant chopped chives.

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Bayswater
See London's best Chinese restaurants

Find more amazing Chinese food in London

London's best Chinese restaurants

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. 

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By: Time Out London Food & Drink

Comments

5 comments
Rob Ng
Rob Ng

Any Chinaman in the know would eat in Golden Dragon if they could get a table. No question!

Dazza V
Dazza V

Golden Dragon at 28-29 Gerrard Street London, W1D 6JW is the best dim sum in Chinatown by far... and are so cheap. They don't take bookings on a Sunday... but they're a big restaurant - across 2 floors. ALWAYS get the custard tarts for dessert. They also do normal Chinese food if dim sum isn't your thing... but then why go to Meat Mission for a salad??

Pawan lama
Pawan lama

I like chinese food very much. I m looking for a job in london in any restaurant but no any channel to get job.If any required me please mail me.

Jane's TV
Jane's TV

Courtesan in Brixton serves the most exciting dim sum I have tried. We had jerk chicken parcel which is just mad, crocodile fillets, wasabi dumplings etc. and the cocktails really good. Nothing like Chinatown. Friday night was very busy but we were not rushed. Hard to find so take a map.

Mike
Mike

Only 4 Chinatown restaurants?!? CCK or London Jade Garden might be worth a look. And I would have had Royal China Club over the standard Royal China. Of course, Hakkasan & Yauatcha are excellent but probably too expensive...