Get us in your inbox

Search
Din Tai Fung
Photograph: Din Tai Fung

London’s best Chinese restaurants

Delicate Cantonese cooking, fiery Sichuan delights and high-end banquet-style dishes are all in our round-up of London’s best Chinese food

Written by
Time Out London Food & Drink
,
Sarah Cohen
&
Chris Waywell
Advertising

There’s a lot more to Chinese food in London than luminous-orange sweet ’n’ sour chicken and the old egg-fried. Whether you want to keep things authentic in Chinatown (still full or great discoveries), nip down to a treasured local or give your tastebuds something more adventurous to try, you’ll find brilliant suggestions on this curated list. 

London’s Chinese-food scene stretches in many, many directions. There’s Cantonese dim sum, fiery Xinjiang hotpots, poshed-up teahouse staples, fragrant Sichuan dishes and classic Beijing duck, at restaurants ranging from high-end to the super-casual. Chopsticks at the ready! 

RECOMMENDED: the best restaurants in Chinatown.

The best Chinese restaurants in London

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Victoria

Forget gilded dragons, book-length menus and stir-fries by numbers, Andrew Wong’s pared-back Pimlico Chinese is a singular affair offering elevated cuisine at everyday prices. Preserved duck egg with marinated tofu, chill and soy is typical, as is poached razor clam with sea cucumber, vinegar tapioca and wind-dried sausage. Enjoy at your leisure.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Chinatown

Kitsch Communist Revolution decor meets northern Chinese street food tidied up for London at this lively joint in Newport Court. True to Sichuanese form, red is the predominant colour and chilli fire the overriding taste sensation: dan dan noodles, smacked cucumber salad and crescent dumplings are all good. Yes, the food’s spicy, but it’s also deliciously cheap.

Advertising
Barshu
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Soho

The original of a Sichuan gang that also includes BaoziInn, Barshu is a refreshing change from Chinatown’s mostly Cantonese restaurants. Come here for prairie tripe, fragrant and hot pig’s trotters, stir-fried chicken gizzards with pickled chilli and other fiery tongue-tinglers – just remember to have plenty of soothing tea on tap. 

Café TPT
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Chinatown

At a glance, Café TPT’s menu looks longer than the complete musings of Confucius, with offerings from across mainland China and beyond. Best bets are Cantonese staples such as succulent roast duck on rice or garlicky prawn-stuffed tofu in a hot stone pot, although we crave the Hong Kong-style Tai pai tong hawker dishes too.

Advertising
Din Tai Fung
  • Restaurants
  • Taiwanese
  • Covent Garden
  • price 2 of 4

A world-famous Taiwanese restaurant with an outpost in Covent Garden, Din Tai Fung is known for its street-food small plates and signature xiao long bao (soup dumplings). These delicate steamed parcels come served in bamboo baskets and filled with the likes of spicy pork, chilli crab and soft prawn. While you’re there, be sure to order the crispy prawn pancakes, and the wontons with black vinegar and chilli oil.

Etles
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Walthamstow
  • price 1 of 4

Something a bit different: this family-run restaurant specialises in Uyghur cuisine – a fusion of Chinese, Middle Eastern and Persian influences developed by ethnic groups around the Silk Road. Traditional dishes such as ox tongue in chilli and vinegar or herb-marinated lamb hoof with peppers are great value – and a world away from sweet-and-sour.  

Advertising
Four Seasons
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Chinatown
  • price 1 of 4

A famous purveyor of Cantonese roasted meats, the long-serving Four Seasons still deals in the ‘golden trio’: crispy duck (a contender for London’s best), char siu (barbecued pork) and siew yoke (crispy pork belly). Everyone is here for plates of these chunky specialities on rice, although the 20-page menu is full of other possibilities.  

Gold Mine
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Queensway

It may look like a provincial function room, but this Chinese roast-meat specialist attracts as many visitors from the Far East as it does local students. The must-orders are the duck and char siu (barbecued pork), which can be seen hanging in the open kitchen by the front window – although most of the dishes here pass muster.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Tottenham Court Road

Launched back in 2001, this Michelin-starred Cantonese trendsetter remains a benchmark against which all high-end Chinese restaurants should be judged. It’s one for the big spenders, who lap up dazzling signature dishes such as roasted silver cod with champagne and honey, or jasmine tea-smoked organic pork ribs. Sexy, moody and still oh-so cool.  

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Chelsea
  • price 3 of 4

Visit this acclaimed but under-the-radar Chinese and you’ll be asked if there’s anything you can’t/won’t eat and what level of spice you like. After that, you’re in the kitchen’s hands as wave upon wave of progressively larger plates arrive, often with the distinctive taste of Hunanese regional cuisine. Not cheap, but definitely worth it.

Advertising
Hutong
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary Asian
  • London Bridge
  • price 4 of 4

Like the original Hutong in Hong Kong, this London offshoot is a glitzy, high-end Chinese with some magnificent views. It has the same northern Chinese menu, the same plate-glass aesthetic and the same ersatz Old Beijing decor. The only difference is in the spicing, which has been slightly dialled down for Western palates.

Imperial Treasure
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • St James’s
  • price 4 of 4

One of only a handful of London restaurants dealing in refined Cantonese food, Imperial Treasure is a grand, high-ceilinged spot in Mayfair with classy service and even better barbecued duck (the delicious kind you’ll find hanging in the window in Chinatown). The prices border on blow-out, so order carefully. One for a special occasion.

Advertising
Jen Café
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Chinatown
  • price 1 of 4

Although this green-painted café calls itself a tea specialist, it’s the hand-wrapped dumplings that keep us coming back. The cheapest are the northern Chinese jiao zi (aka ‘Beijing dumplings’) – eight white sachets filled to bursting with pork or vegetables for a fiver. Okay, we’ll come clean – they’re one of our go-to Chinatown snacks.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Shaftesbury Avenue
  • price 2 of 4

This buzzy restaurant on the northern edge of Chinatown is a hotspot for hotpots. Choose your broth (they range from the healthy-sounding ‘herbal tonic’ all the way through to the ‘hot and numbing pot’, heady with the smell of Sichuan pepper), your raw ingredients (pork, beef, lamb, squid, fish balls) and get cooking at the table.

Advertising
Mama Lan
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Brixton

Inspired by the Beijing stall run by owner Ning Ma’s grandparents, the deliciously ramshackle Mama Lan serves hearty northern-Chinese street food – in particular, dumplings. Brown-bottomed beef and pork pot-stickers fly out of the kitchen at an impressive rate, although veggie alternatives filled with wood-ear mushrooms and spinach are also good. ​

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Kensington

We’re very fond of Min Jiang, not only for its superlative daytime views of Kensington Gardens, but also for its celebrated take on Beijing duck – a dish of two gigantic ritualistic servings that needs to be ordered in advance. Also expect Sichuan classics such as double-cooked pork belly with Chinese leeks.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Clapton
  • price 2 of 4

A former pop-up offering dim sum-style dining for local hipsters, MNTD’s watchword is definitely not authenticity. Still, the dumplings themselves are excellent, with handmade shells and irreproachable fillings. We’re also fans of fusion riffs including the spicy peanut-and-celery salad, as well as the sake-based cocktails (also great while you’re waiting for a table).

Park Chinois
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Mayfair

Another best-in-show contender from Alan Yau, this hugely atmospheric Mayfair rendezvous channels 1930s Shanghai with its slinky velvet-toned restaurant and jazz lounge. The PC carbonara – a Chinese take on the Italian classic that replaces pasta with udon noodles – is a must-order, as are the all-too-sinkable signature cocktails. Pricy, but perfect posh date territory.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Paddington

Don’t let the traffic mayhem and less-than-lovely tower blocks around Paddington station put you off coming to Pearl Liang: its sophisticated, blossom-decorated dining room and moodily lit cocktail bar are real lookers. And the mainly Cantonese menu rarely disappoints – especially the choice of exquisite dim sum (visit during the day for the full selection).

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Marylebone

Decked out in lavish Oriental style, Phoenix Palace is a favourite of international businessmen, but its easy-going bustle also suits local families, who crowd round circular tables for the excellent weekend dim sum (reservations are a must unless you fancy queueing). Dinner is a particular blast during Chinese New Year.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary Asian
  • Baker Street

As the exclusive clubby name suggests, this premier link in the Royal China chain has an air of quiet five-star elegance, right down to the faint background tinkling of a piano. The kitchen turns out consummate Cantonese cooking, using prized ingredients at every opportunity, while polished staff make everyone feel like a visiting dignitary.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Shepherd’s Bush
  • price 2 of 4

Foodwise at this Chinese restaurant in Shepherd’s Bush’s Dorsett Hotel, top marks go to the exquisitely crafted dim sum – from the signature xiao long bao to sophisticated open parcels of scallop siu mai topped with tobiko – while the dining room reflects the classy comfort of its hotel setting.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Moorgate
  • price 2 of 4

With its karaoke room and laminated picture menu, this fiery Sichuan joint is old school – although its food has real depth and complexity. The chef’s fish special comes with a Scoville-scale sucker-punch, but don’t ignore the dan-dan noodles or pork dumplings bobbing in soupy red chilli sauce. Portions are generous, so share with friends who aren’t faint-hearted.

Shu Xiang Ge
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Chinatown
  • price 2 of 4

Smack-bang on Chinatown’s Gerrard Street, this Sichuan spot has a space built into every wooden table for bubbling hotpots. If you’re a fan of face-numbingly spicy food and cooking your own meat at the table, head down to feast on adventurous ingredients like brains and beef aorta. Less adventurous ingredients like fish balls are available, too, but be warned: this place doesn’t really pander to Western palates.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Camberwell

A pioneer of regional Chinese cuisine in London, this Camberwell cutie puts the focus on dishes from the north-west frontier province of Xinjiang. The flavours can be fiery, although they’re tempered with a plethora of spices – a legacy from the namesake Silk Road that was used to transport treasures between the East and West. 

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Shepherd’s Bush

There’s no shortage of budget chop suey joints in She Bu, but this is a proper Chinese restaurant serving more than the usual takeaway scoff. Sichuan cuisine (including a tongue-numbing mala hotpot ‘buffet’) is the draw, backed by gentler items such as Hunan-style red-braised pork belly. Fans of blood tofu and chicken stomach are in for a proper treat here.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Highbury
  • price 1 of 4

Chef Wei Guirong’s no-frills restaurant by the Emirates Stadium peddles street food from her birthplace, Xi’an (home of the Terracotta Army). Her cooking is marked by rich combinations of spices and soft hand-pulled noodles – although hardcore fans come for her stonking Xi’an pork burger.

  • Restaurants
  • Chinese
  • Soho

There’s substance behind the style at this Soho stalwart, which mixes high-concept design with day-and-night dim sum – think sticky-sweet venison puffs, umami-filled foie gras taro croquettes and lobster dumplings with tobiko caviar. With exotic teas, bigger plates, premium sakes and patisserie treats also on offer, it’s easy to see why Michelin came a-calling.

Recommended

    More on Love Local

      You may also like
        Best-selling Time Out offers
          Advertising