Whether you’re a London local or just passing through, there’s always plenty of discover in Chinatown. Just a stone’s throw from Leicester Square, its streets are lined with busy restaurants, noodle bars, and Chinese supermarkets stocked with exotic ingredients you won’t find anywhere else. Chefs move on and restaurants change quickly here, but we’ve rounded up eight of the best places to eat right now. Avoid the all-you-can-eat buffets and try one of these instead.
Orient London, Wardour Street – Slicker than your average Chinatown restaurant, Orient London serves excellent dim sum (until 4.45pm) and Szechuan and Cantonese specialities in the evening. It’s smart enough for date night but also perfect for weekend feasts with friends. Don’t leave without trying their mini roast pork buns and the crystal king prawn dumplings with black truffle and XO sauce.
Four Seasons, Gerrard Street – A Chinatown institution for over a decade, Four Seasons is famous for its roast duck – all crispy skin and tender, flavoursome meat. According to the Financial Times, the marinade and sauce ingredients are a closely guarded secret, known only by the chef who prepares it. If you don’t fancy duck, their barbecue pork is equally good and there are plenty of classic Cantonese dishes on the menu.
Shuang Shuang, Shaftesbury Avenue – If you’re looking for an authentic Chinese hot pot experience, this is the place to be. Simply choose your broth and then select delicious things from the conveyor belt (meat, fish, noodles, etc) to throw into it. Mix up a dipping sauce, scoop a fish ball out of the bubbling broth – this is DIY dining at its finest.
Pho & Bun, Shaftesbury Avenue – Just a few doors up from Shuang Shuang is this popular Vietnamese restaurant, sister to Viet Eat in Holborn. The usual suspects – pho, noodle bowls and fresh summer rolls – are all delicious, but we’ve got a soft spot for their steamed bao burgers. Choose from fillings like BBQ honey belly pork, crispy tiger prawn and pineapple, or the signature 28 day aged beef patty with red onion relish and smoky mayo.
Morada Brindisa, Rupert Street – The menu at this Spanish restaurant is inspired by the Castilian tradition of roasting meat, vegetables and seafood in an ‘asador’ (a wood-fired oven). Let the friendly staff recommend a bottle of wine and then tuck into dishes like roast suckling pig leg, Galician octopus, and clams in white wine.
Jen Café, Newport Place – For a quick pit stop, look out for this no-frills café – there’s usually a lady in the window making dumplings, so it’s easy to spot. For less than a tenner a head, you can enjoy Chinese tea or a fruity crushed ice drink with some handmade dumplings, a plate of noodles, or roast duck with rice. This isn’t a place to linger, so order the Beijing dumplings (best served with a splash of vinegar and chilli oil) and then head into Soho for a drink or two.
Plum Valley, Gerrard Street – On a street lined with restaurants, Plum Valley’s sleek interior and upscale Cantonese menu help it stand out from the crowd. Start with a dim sum platter or their crispy duck salad, and then choose from dishes like Mongolian fillet steak, lobster noodles, and claypot chicken. Their fish and seafood dishes are particularly good – don’t miss the grilled sea bass in a delicate ginger and spring onion sauce.
Butifarra, Rupert Street – This casual Peruvian street food joint specialises in butifarras – Peru’s famous slow-cooked meat sandwich. Choose from meats like pachamanca chicken, lamb, and beef short rib, topped with fresh salsa criolla. For something a little lighter, there’s ceviche and a zingy quinoa salad, washed down with homemade cold pressed juices.
Top tip: Fancy an after-dinner drink? Look out for the jade door on Gerrard Street and step into Opium, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar and dim sum parlour.