Get us in your inbox


Real Beijing Food House

  • Restaurants
  • Chinatown
  • price 2 of 4
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Food House
    Elaine Zhao for Time Out
  2. Food House
    Elaine Zhao for Time Out
  3. Food House
    Elaine Zhao for Time Out
  4. Food House
    Elaine Zhao for Time Out

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

One of Chinatown's very best restaurants, offering Sichuan spice and all-you-can-eat hotpot

Going for a meal at Food House is to choose between parallel universes.

Option one is family style sharing in the brightly-lit, carpeted ground floor where you’ll select from an extensive menu of Northern Chinese dishes. Alternatively, option two promises the upstairs dining room, reserved for those enjoying an all-you-can-eat hotpot experience. This floor has a completely different ambience: dramatic red wallpaper, dim spotlights and mirrors casting shadows, all providing an atmospheric backdrop to the mini steam tornadoes rising from pots on each dark oak table.

The headliner was whole roast sea bass, soaked in radioactively-red chilli oil and adorned with lotus root slices and Sichuan peppercorns

During my visit, I confused their system by booking a table for hotpot – giving me access to the exclusive upstairs room – but at the last minute, decided to go for the cooked dishes instead, after finding the menu too intriguing to miss. I was grateful to be allowed to stay in the hotpot room, which is where the real action was, akin to being at a chaotic family reunion. The waiters were working at maximum speed (one became visibly annoyed when I tried to ask a question: ‘look, just tell me which dish you want!’), with plates charging out of the kitchen every few minutes.

Despite a massive 19-page menu of options, I went for the Sichuanese classics, including the pleasantly savoury mapo tofu, which was not too sweet – a balance other outlets can often get wrong. The cucumber salad had a refreshingly zingy garlic kick and each bite of the stir fried cabbage provided a umami depth of flavour.

As for the skewers, the lamb was generously seasoned, but the barbeque chives particularly stood out: drenched in soy sauce and addictively salty. A surprising gem were the flat, dry-fried green beans, which tasted fresh and tender but still boasted a satisfying crunch. The headliner though had to be the whole roast sea bass: served on a large boiling platter, soaked in radioactively-red chilli oil and adorned with lotus root slices and Sichuan peppercorns.

When Food House replaced its predecessor, a historic dim sum institution called Harbour City, on the same site in Chinatown in 2016, it was an evolution in line with a wider trend. The reality for the Hong Kong restaurateurs who first came to the area in the 1970s is that their main competition now comes from mainland Chinese eateries, eager to represent and meet growing demand for China’s diverse regional cuisines. Despite being a loyal dim sum fan, I have to admit that Food House is a hugely welcome addition to London’s Chinatown, injecting a much-needed consistency in both flavour and quality to an area of dining choices that can often be hit-or-miss.

The vibe The beating heart of Chinatown that fully deserves its hype, providing a burst of Sichuanese spice to the area’s long standing Cantonese repertoire. 

The food A flavoursome feast ranging from all-you-can-eat hotpot and chargrilled barbecue skewers to a variety of regional Northern Chinese dishes.

The drink The food is the main event here, but you can wash down your meal with the usual selection of Chinese teas, beers and soft drinks.

Time Out tip Book a table downstairs if you want a (relatively) more low-key and calmer dining experience, but head upstairs if you’re looking for a more raucous and lively atmosphere.

Elaine Zhao
Written by
Elaine Zhao


46 Gerrard St
Do you own this business?
Sign in & claim business
You may also like
You may also like
Bestselling Time Out offers