Whether you’re a born-and-bred Londoner or just passing through, there’s always plenty to 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, so we’ve rounded up eight of the best places to eat right now.
Dumplings Legend, Gerrard Street – This popular dim sum spot makes over 8000 dumplings every day in its glass-walled kitchen. They serve a huge range of dishes, from wok-fried noodles to classic dim sum, but they’re most famous for their soup-filled xiao long bao.
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.
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. Through the week, they serve dim sum afternoon tea from 3-6pm.
Jen Café, Newport Place – For a quick, cheap meal, this no-frills corner café is hard to beat. There’s usually a lady in the window making dumplings, so it’s easy to spot. For around a tenner, you can enjoy Chinese tea or a fruity crushed ice drink with some handmade dumplings or a plate of roast duck or pork with rice. Try the Beijing dumplings – delicious with chilli oil and a splash of vinegar – and then head into Soho for a drink or two.
Orient London, Wardour Street – Slicker than your average Chinatown restaurant, Orient London serves Szechuan and Cantonese dishes, plus excellent dim sum (until 4.45pm). 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 or the delicate scallop dumplings.
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. They serve all the usual suspects – pho, noodle bowls, and fresh summer rolls – but we’ve got a soft spot for their bao burgers. Choose from fillings like barbecue honey pork, crispy lemongrass chicken, or dry aged beef with red onion relish.
JinLi, Leicester Street and Newport Place – If you can handle the heat, JinLi serves some of the most authentic Sichuan food in London. Their chef travels to his hometown of Chengdu twice a year in search of new ideas and recipes for their menu. The fiery hot pots are great for groups, but if you’re a seafood lover, don’t miss the whole grilled sea bass with chilli sauce.
Originally published in 2017, updated in 2021.