London’s Best Chinese Restaurants (By Those Who Know)

London’s Best Chinese Restaurants (By Those Who Know)
Hung's in Chinatown

Updated March 2018

Celebrity chef Ken Hom once declared that Chinese food in London is “equally as good as in China”. But where to find the best of it? As one of the world’s most complex cuisines, it’s hard to know.

We use the term Chinese food as a catch-all term for numerous different regional cuisines, and while restaurants might specialise and excel in one of these it is likely that other dishes might be distinctly mediocre. Menus written only half in English, confusingly similarly-named restaurants and a Chinatown where tourist traps rub shoulders with some of the best Chinese eateries in the country don’t help either.

With this in mind, we spoke to London’s Chinese community (and those who know China well) to find out where, and what they choose to eat. Given that many of them are chefs at London’s top Chinese restaurants themselves, we thought they ought to know...

Cheap and cheerful

“I go to Hung’s on Wardour Street in Chinatown for the authentic congee dishes. There is a great selection of beef, pork and chicken and it’s great for when you’re working late as they are open until the early hours of the morning.”
Jason See Ming Hwa, head chef at Chai Wu restaurant in Harrod’s

“For good old fashion Chinese food I go to The Good Earth [restaurants in Knightsbridge, Wandsworth, Esher and Mill Hill]. It is great Chinese comfort cooking at its best, made with high quality ingredients.”
Ken Hom, celebrity chef

My Old Place near Liverpool Street is my favourite. The pig’s trotters are like savoury Haribo and the fuqi feipian (sliced offal in chilli oil) is as addictive as crack cocaine.”
Stu Black, screenwriter who lived in China for more than six years

Regional cuisines

Taiwanese cooking at Hunan

“I go to Chilli Cool for Sichuan food — a taste of home. It’s perfect for when the parents are in town and we need something unfussy. I order pig’s ears in chilli oil and sliced fish with dry chilli.”
Qin Xie, Chinese food journalist living in London

“The best Northern chinese [and Mongolian] food is at Silk Road in Camberwell.”
Andrew Wong, head chef at A. Wong restaurant in Victoria

Hunan in Pimlico — where the food is heavily influenced by the cuisine of Taiwan, and small plates are just brought to the table rather than ordered from a menu — is the best way of eating Chinese food without any hassle. There’s no need to stumble over a menu or plan what to order to find that balance of flavour, texture and colour that a Chinese meal should always have — they do it all for you. So long as you have prepared yourself for non-stop eating of great quality Chinese food, you will never leave Hunan with regret!”
Jeremy Pang, TV chef and founder of School of Wok in Covent Garden

Royal China Club on Baker Street serves exactly the kind of Chinese food that you would get in the best of Hong Kong restaurants. All my friends from there count this as one of their favourites when they come to London.”
Ken Hom, celebrity chef

Chuan Chuan Xiang on Little Newport Street in Chinatown (next to Baozi Inn) serves mala tang (Sichuan hotpot) skewers. It’s a tiny place with no room to eat in, but it’s proper street food with a kick. Try the ‘frozen tofu’ skewers, which really soak up the flavours of the hot and numbing soup they are cooked in.”
Stu Black, Londonist contributing editor who lived in China for more than six years

“It’s great to see so much more choice in terms of Chinese regionality. 10-15 years ago Chinatown was predominantly Cantonese food but now there are excellent restaurants serving Taiwanese — Leong’s Legend, Sichuanese — Barshu and Malaysian — Rasa Sayang.”
Eric Yu, owner of Chinese-inspired cocktail bar Opium in Chinatown

High-end

My Old Place in Liverpool Street

“I go to Kai in Mayfair, firstly because they serve a great selection of tequila and secondly because of the Dover sole — it is incredibly delicious and well made.”
Ian Pengelley, executive chef at Chai Wu restaurant in Harrod’s

Grand Imperial in The Grosvenor Hotel — the food is classic, yet modern at the same time. Their homemade seaweed tofu is delicious and I'm not sure why the restaurant has not had more recognition. I really enjoy a big banquet here with friends and family.”
Jeremy Pang, TV chef and founder of School of Wok in Covent Garden

China Tang in The Dorchester continues to make and serve consistently great Chinese food. Each dish is cooked perfectly and presented beautifully.”
Ken Hom, celebrity chef

Dim sum and dumplings

Dim sum at Yauatcha

“I go to Young Cheng restaurant in Chinatown for their excellent Dim Sum, although service is so-so.”
Weng Han Wong, master wok chef at Min Jiang restaurant in Kensington

Hong Kong City on New Cross Road is my favourite place for dim sum.”
Andrew Wong, head chef at A. Wong restaurant in Victoria

“There are many great dim sum options — Yauatcha, Royal China Club and Plum Valley for those looking to splash out, or Golden Dragon and Dumplings' Legend for the more budget conscious.”
Eric Yu, owner of Chinese-inspired cocktail bar Opium in Chinatown

“It has to be Yauatcha for dim sum. I typically call by for late night dining when it's 11pm and I'm at a loose end in Soho. Order spicy pork Szechuan wonton with peanut and sticky rice in lotus leaf with chicken and dried shrimp.”
Qin Xie, Chinese food journalist living in London

Jen Café  in Chinatown — it’s a Chinese 'greasy spoon' but I love the way it has hardly changed in 20 years. Their boiled or blanched dumplings are so simple, yet so tasty; there are hardly any 'intricate folds', and more concentration on getting as many dumplings made as quickly as possible because they seem to fly off the shelves as soon as they’ve been made. It’s a great place to watch the hustle and bustle of Chinatown go by.”
Jeremy Pang, TV chef and founder of School of Wok in Covent Garden

“The Cantonese dim sum at Kam Tong in Bayswater are great, with dumpling skins of the proper thinness and just the right amount of filling. I’d recommend the pork dumplings, barbecued pork puffs and king prawn cheung fun”
Rebecca Yeo, Singaporean-Chinese actress living in London

Favourite dishes

"A favourite dish is kao yu — a whole roasted fish (often seabass) served with tofu and sliced veg including sliced lotus root in a big dish of hot and numbing sauce. It’s perfect for sharing and when I lived in China we’d eat it regularly on Sundays in place of our roast dinner. My Old Place on Middlesex Street is one of the best places I’ve tried for it.”
Stu Black, Londonist contributing editor who lived in China for more than six years

“I go to Yauatcha in Soho for the Jasmine tea smoked ribs. The flavours are extraordinary — it’s all about the seasoning and how well it pulls off the bone.”
Ian Pengelley, executive chef at Chai Wu restaurant in Harrod’s

“For roast meats and crispy pork belly, I always head to Four Seasons on Gerrard Street.”
Eric Yu, owner of Chinese-inspired cocktail bar Opium in Chinatown

“The very best Chinese buns can be found at Golden Gate Bakery in Chinatown.”
Andrew Wong, head chef at A. Wong restaurant in Victoria

Roast duck

Roast duck at Four Seasons

“It has to be Four Seasons on Wardour Street [there are other branches on Gerrard Street and Queensway, too]. The Singapore Airlines crew have been coming here ever since it opened in 1990 and my first memories of it (pre living in London) are when my dad, a Singapore airlines crew trainer, packaged it up and brought it back to Singapore after one of his London flights. Now that I'm living in London, I have the luxury of going back regularly for my duck fix.”
Rebecca Yeo, Singaporean-Chinese actress living in London

“I honestly think that our eight-course duck tasting menu is the best and most innovative in London. If I had to choose another, it would be Royal China Club on Baker Street.”
Andrew Wong, head chef at A. Wong restaurant in Victoria

Fusion

Flesh & Buns

A. Wong in Victoria serves truly modern Chinese food with a British touch, and it’s delicious to boot. Andrew Wong cooks with a passion and it shows through in every dish.”
Ken Hom, celebrity chef

Rasa Sayang in Macclesfield Street serves halal Singaporean and Chinese-Malaysian food — for me it’s a taste of home away from home; it's comfort food in every sense. I tend to choose the things I can’t cook at home due to lack of time, my favourites being laksa, Marmite chicken and char kway teow (stir-fried rice cakes).”
Rebecca Yeo, Singaporean-Chinese actress living in London

“I really enjoy Flesh & Buns in Covent Garden for a fusion take on classic Chinese steamed buns.”
Andrew Wong, head chef at A. Wong restaurant in Victoria

Do you know Chinese cuisine well? Where else would you recommend? let us know in the comments below.

This article is part of our Best of London Food and Drink series. Visit the page for more recommendations of where to enjoy the capital's top food and drink, categorised by cuisine, food type and more.

Original article by Ben Norum.

Last Updated 10 April 2018

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