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. Do you agree with our choices? Use the comments box below or tweet your suggestions.
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The best Chinese restaurants in London
Baiwei means ‘a hundred flavours’ in Chinese and this Chinatown favourite exemplifies this attitude to Sichuanese food. There's a lengthy selection of authentic, home-style Sichuan, Hunan and northern dishes served with uncommonly friendly service. True to another Chinese saying, ‘China is the place for food, but Sichuan is the place for flavour’. This is true of Baiwei's food, typically robust with an abundance of dried chillies, Sichuan pepper and fragrant garlic. Boom.
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. Dan dan noodles, cucumber salad and crescent dumplings are all good choices, especially when accompanied by fresh, unsweetened hot soy milk. The kitchen occasionally gets things wrong, but when it’s on song – which is often – the food is spicy, delicious and cheap.
Venue says: “Barshu is offering 25% off (food-only) from April 16 to May 13. Offer valid from Sunday to Saturday, noon-10.30pm. Subject to availability.”
Barshu (the original of a Sichuan quartet along with Ba Shan, Baozi Inn and newcomer Baiwei) is distinct from Chinatown’s mostly Cantonese restaurants in looks and pricing, as well as cuisine. The menu holds much interest, listing the likes of pea jelly, prairie tripe, and stir-fried chicken gizzards with pickled chilli. You’ll need to slake your thirst to counteract the fiery, numbing and sour flavours that characterise western Chinese cookery.
The menu in the window of Café TPT looks longer than the complete musings of Confucius. Dishes from Hong Kong, mainland China and the diaspora are all produced competently, and some of them with commendable aplomb. The Cantonese dishes tend to be better than the Malaysian ones: roast duck on rice was succulent, and a generous helping. A sizzling dish of stuffed tofu, served in a hot stone bowl, was a highlight.
This fusion restaurant is a little bit bonkers, but we like that. Taking its name from Hong Kong’s popular tea restaurants, this Cha Chaan Teng is a mash-up of East, West and everything in between. A spam roll came tossed in panko and served in a crusty bun between a fried quail’s egg and sriracha pickle. Luxurious lobster prawn toast and Coca-Cola ribs were other highlights, showing how this restaurant balances bucketloads of American indulgence with zingy Chinese flavours.
In décor and cooking, Chinese Laundry is not just one of a kind but utterly wonderful. The focus is on period stuff brought over from China – people moving into modern flats, we were told, sold their old stuff for a song. The result is an entrancingly eccentric hotchpotch. Chinese Laundry has its own take not only on standard Chinese dishes but on western ideas as well.
The famed Soho purveyor of the golden trio of roasted meats: duck, char siu (barbecued pork) and siew yoke (crispy belly pork). Any of them – or all three – on a plate with rice is reason enough to return for more of the same, but it’s also worth trying other dishes on the extensive menu. Soya chicken is usually to be recommended, as are the stir-fried green beans with pork.
Gold Mine is so renowned for its roast meats – which can be seen hanging in the open kitchen by the front window – that diners from near and far can be seen tucking in here, both local students and visitors from Hong Kong. Top marks go to those Cantonese roast meats, especially the duck and char sui (barbecued pork).
More than a decade after it started wowing London’s big spenders with its classy Cantonese cooking, this Michelin-starred trendsetter remains a benchmark against which all high-end Chinese restaurants should be judged. Dazzling plates include signature dishes such as silver cod roasted in champagne, and jasmine tea-smoked organic pork ribs.
Beyond the opulent five-star hotels of Hong Kong, ‘Cantonese fine dining’ can seem an oxymoron. HKK reinvents the entire experience. The Hakkasan Group describes its latest venture as ‘bespoke Cantonese fine dining’. HKK serves up beautifully presented, exquisitely prepared dishes crafted from high-quality ingredients.
Find the best restaurants in Chinatown
The owners of Shikumen were doubling their bets when they launched London’s newest Chinese restaurant concept. They opened this branch in the Dorsett Hotel just six weeks after debuting their first in Ealing’s Xanadu Hotel. Named after a Shanghainese East-meets-West architectural style popular in the seventeenth century, Shikumen claims to reflect the refinement of that period. It isn’t something you’d expect to find. First impressions lived up to the promise – from the courteous greeting at the door to the handsome dining room furnished with leather banquettes and Shanghai-style room dividers. The dim sum menu is a compact selection of exquisitely steamed, baked, and fried dishes ranging from classic har gau and xiao long bao to more sophisticated items such as scallop siu mai topped with tobiko and cheung fun filled with prawn and beancurd skin. The latter was a revelation, each mouthful exploding into a sensual mix of sweet, briny flavours and crisp textures. Pan-fried turnip cake, another lunchtime staple, exceeded expectations with an eggy topping of chopped garlic chives. A generous portion of stir-fried seafood udon in XO sauce was also faultless. We didn’t have time for Peking duck, which requires at least 45 minutes notice and is presented in two servings – sliced and served with pancakes, then shredded and served with fried rice or fried or braised noodles. Judging from the dim sum, I’m willing to bet this dish would be executed with equal meticulousness. Servi
Venue says: “Shikumen exclusive gifts now available to purchase securely online. See website for more.”