If you don’t have quite the time, money or inclination to go backpacking around Asia, there is an alternative. In the surrounds of the same station where you might start your journey on the Heathrow Express, you’ll find a host of Asian restaurants ready to bring the continent to you.
For the ultimate trekking experience, we’ve devised a crawl — or Asian Amble, if you will — between five of our favourites, taking in China, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and India. The resultant route will offer the chance for a five-course meal split between the different restaurants, and the different cuisines of each country.
#1 Pearl Liang (China)
Your food safari starts at this slick Sheldon Square dim sum spot. Settle in and let your eyes adjust to the sexy, low-lit surrounds before tucking into a plate or two of traditional Chinese dumplings, often with contemporary twists. If you’re embarking on an amble, you’ll want to take it easy to avoid peaking too soon.
Try: The rich pork-filled Shanghai dumplings (xiao long bao) or the steamed prawn dumplings with wasabi — a Chinese dish with a Japanese accent.
Pearl Liang, 8 Sheldon Square, W2 6EZ
Approx 10min walk to...
#2 See Sushi (Japan)
This laidback canalside sushi restaurant is run by the oriental food group SeeWoo, which has shops in Chinatown and Greenwich. It makes an ideal lunchtime call-in for bento boxes or sushi platters, with picturesque outdoor seating next to Paddington basin in high demand when the sun’s out. Assemble your own platter of sushi and sashimi taking in squid, clam, mackerel and seabass along with tuna and salmon.
Try: Sashimi is the lighter option, but we’d strongly recommend the tori katsu don — katsu-style breadcrumbed chicken on a bowl of rice topped with pickles and a runny-yolked fried egg.
See Sushi, West End Quay, 4d Praed Street, W2 1JX
Approx 2min walk to...
#3 Satay House (Malaysia)
This restaurant has been flying the flag for Malaysian cuisine in London since 1973, and continues to do so. The food is traditional and has barely changed in those years, though the feel of space is a touch more modern. As well as its namesake dish, the menu includes Malay staples such as nasi goreng (stir-fried rice) and gado gado – mixed vegetables, tofu and rice with peanut sauce.
Try: Well, the name says it all. If you’re stopping by for one dish before you amble on then it has to be the traditional satay. Choose between chicken or lamb.
Satay House, 13 Sale Place, W2 1PX
Approx 2min walk to...
#4 The Heron (Thailand)
The food served at this restaurant (beneath a pub of the same name) is widely hailed as among the best Thai in London, and it’s easy to see why. Dishes radiate with vibrant, zingy spices and searing freshness the likes of which you’d usually have to get on a plane for. A word of warning, though – it’s spicy. Ask for it to be toned down if you’re not sure that you can handle it. Oh, and there’s at-table karaoke from nine which is a must-try at some point even if you don't get the chance while ambling.
Try: Any one of the hot and sour soups are a good pit-stop slurp before ambling on, and the som tam (green papaya salad) is particularly noteworthy.
The Heron, 1 Norfolk Crescent, W2 2DN
Approx 7min walk to...
#5 The Mughal’s (India)
With a look inspired by the palaces of India and a pedigree of over 15 years, The Mughal’s is not your average curry house. High quality ingredients help Indian staples shine, from prawn bhuna and butter chicken to lamb jalfrezi.
Try: For a twist on a classic, try the lamb tikka, featuring cubes of lamb marinated in spices and yoghurt and cooked in the restaurant’s tandoor oven. Since it’s your last stop, you might want to treat yourself to a kulfi too.
The Mughal's, 11 London Street, W2 1HL
If you’re pretty stuffed after that five-course extravaganza, you might fancy heading to the canal to walk some of it off. You'll find dining can sometimes be every bit as hardcore as backpacking.
Let us know if you try this amble, or your thoughts on any of the restaurants included, by leaving a comment below.
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