Where to find the best Chinese food in London
From hotpots to dimsum, dan dan noodles to roast meats, here's where to flex one's chopstick finesse
A revelation: Hot May (translates as delicious in Cantonese) Pot Pot is an exquisite, deluxe take on northern China's tradition of cooking ingredients in a steaming broth (chicken, oxtail or vegetable). Here the broth is boiled for six hours with the addition of goji berries and aromatic herbs and served with a tiered array of luxurious ingredients; from paper-thin slices of wagyu beef, sea bass sashimi and plump scallops, to squid cakes, enoki mushrooms and ambrosial housemade tofu. There's a pungent, bone-broth-based, umami-rich dipping sauce. Set meals commence with an exceptional sweet/sour cabbage salad and salted cucumber with ground sesame sauce. Do try the delicately spiced wagyu pancakes too.
The restaurant itself is enchanting and luxurious with green chinoiserie wallpaper in the dining room and a butterfly-covered dark wallpaper in the hall. Service is charming and informative with advice on how long to cook each ingredient.
At the top of the restaurant, there are several countertop areas for groups who want a more serious initiation in the etiquette of hot-pot cooking.Read more ...
Mei Ume is not only an exceptional Chinese restaurant, it is one of the most stunning, elegant dining treats in London. First off, the surroundings are magnificent. The room has beautiful cornices and columns, mesmerising art and a welcome sense of calm, besides charming service.
The food is equally exceptional in its artistry and deliciousness: melt-in-the-mouth pork ribs, minced chicken dim sum steamed dumplings with gossamer wrappings and a hint of fire to the sauce, refreshing seaweed salad and the pièce de résistance: the most tender pork belly arranged like a pagoda with a rich aromatic sauce. Best of all are ephemeral clouds of fresh tofu filled with finely chopped crab and prawn. For dessert, the sweet black dumplings rather like moochi filled with sesame and peanut are a treat.
Mei Ume will celebrate Chinese New Year with a menu of especially auspicious dishes created by head chef Tony Truong, available from 23 January to 6 February. To celebrate, Mei Ume has teamed up with paper florist Karen Hsu from Pom Pom Factory, who will adorn the restaurant with bespoke lanterns, gossamer peonies and chrysanthemums.
The New Year menu commences with Lo Hei, a traditional Cantonese salad of raw fish including salmon and yellowtail on crispy daikon radish, pickled spring onions, seaweed and ginger. This tangy dish is also called the Prosperity Toss salad as it is traditionally eaten while standing and tossed with chopsticks: the higher you toss, the better your luck in the New Year. To follow there's Yin Yang Soup with poached scallop and sweet crabmeat, and classic Peking Duck served table-side. Dishes of wok-fried tender wagyu beef with ginger and spring onions, and sticky, honey-glazed Chinese roasted pork served with jellyfish salad, a southeast Asian delicacy, also take centre stage.
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Meticulously technical and invariably delectable, A Wong's dim sum are on a whole different level of exquisite tastiness to any of the fashionable newcomers or Chinatown stalwarts. For the best experience, sit up at the bar and watch the chefs, largely female, in action.
A Wong is, exceptional dim sum aside, an odyssey around regional Chinese food (Wong studied social anthropology at LSE). The menu brings all manner of intricately presented dishes to the table with detailed explanations from Nathalie, A Wong's wife, clarifying why certain flavours are present in the dish. Be sure to order the crisp claw with minced crab, prawn and wasabi, scallop, the Mao Shu pancake wraps and lamb burger with coriander, chilli and Xinjiang pomegranate sauce.Read more ...
Sichuanese sensation JinLi snared the much-coveted first prize at the second Golden Chopsticks Awards for the UK's best Asian restaurants. It is a favourite of both Gok Wan and, more surprisingly, Mary Berry!
The restaurant, invariably furiously busy, is named after a well-known foodie street in Chengdu, The most spectacular dish is their signature butterflied grilled seabass cooked with a swathe of chilli, spring onion, coriander and sesame. Be sure to eat all the crispy bits. Order, too, shell-on prawns swimming in a fragrant, chilli-rich, intensely savoury broth, Kung Pao with gorgeous knobbly pieces of chicken, peanuts and chilli and pak choi with lotus root. Jinli also serves a new kind of dry hotpot which is apparently all the rage in China.Read more ...
Dai Tai Fung may have made all the headlines last summer for its long queues in Covent Garden, but Dumplings' Legend is the real deal for an authentic, crazily busy central Chinatown dim sum speciality restaurant. There's a glass-fronted open kitchen where the dim sum are prepared with mesmerising dexterity and all the steamed dumplings are impeccable, especially those mixing minced chicken and prawns. Less adventurous diners will be thrilled with the generous,verdant, vividly fresh chicken stir-fry. Service may be abrupt and the turnover of tables would raise eyebrows even among celebrity chefs with their eye on the bottom line, yet there is something very likeable and genuine about Dumplings' Legend.Read more ...
Glamorous, moody and somehow still cool, Michelin-starred Cantonese trendsetter, Hakkasan remains the benchmark of all high-end Chinese restaurants and the food is as good as ever. For thrifty-ish dining, keep to the ambrosial dim sum and splash out on the grilled morel buns.
For a full treat splurge, try the jasmine smoked ribs, crispy duck salad with pomelo, salty and moreish deep-fried softshell crab with specks of chilli and for full decadence: champagne-poached turbot and Peking Duck with foie gras.
It's almost impossible to be overdressed at Hakkasan and the staff are polished, too. Expect a wealthy and beautiful vibe especially at the Mayfair address.
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Master Wei is Wei Guirong’s first solo project – following Xi’an Impression in Highbury. Guirong’s story is phenomenal: she trained, among thousands of men, with only three other women at culinary school in Xi’an. At Master Wei, the focus is on the region’s peerless hand-pulled biang biang noodle dishes, with vegetables or beef and hot chilli oil or tomato and egg soup; and fine liang pi, cold skin noodles with a cool, refreshing, umami-rich dressing, and the chef’s inimitable ‘burgers’ with a cumin-spiced beef or pork filling.Read more ...
Wun's is a true one-off in Soho. Capturing the spirit of 60s late-night Hong Kong, the ground-level café has marble-topped tables and wicker chairs set against a backdrop of cracked plaster and exposed brickwork lending that retro feel. Downstairs is even more appealing and den-like with its neon-lit bar, velvet banquette seating and an eclectic soundtrack of psychedelic and go-go style music. It is utterly gorgeous
It’s the perfect spot to nurture an unusual cocktail such as Chinese bamboo fenjiu with pu'er tea liqueur, fresh quince and mango.
The characterful menu kicks off with bar snacks including spiced peanut and fried whitebait, the savoury punch of XO bone marrow with fried mantau bread, as well as the whole prawn spring roll – head, legs and tail still intact – with wasabi mayo.
Larger dishes include co-owner Z’s Gran’s secret recipe for sour plum braised duck, the super moreish sugar skin Iberico char sui, wok-fried marrow and scallops with cured black bean sauce, and a clay pot rice dish of house soy-braised aubergine rice. Be daring and try the salted duck egg ice cream on the desserts list, too.
By the time we’d put this lot away, we didn’t have room for any of the coal grill skewers, so we’ll certainly be returning for the pork belly skewer, not to mention more salted duck egg ice cream.
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On the 33rd floor of The Shard, Hutong, whose name comes from the narrow lanes of the former capital of Peking, specialises in the seafood- and vinegar-based 'Lu' food of Shantong northern province and the fiery chilli accented Sichuan cuisine. There's a real sense of occasion here and the view at nighttime is mesmerising.
Luxurious dim sum available at lunch include iberico xiao lang bao soup dumplings. Order crisp, golden softshell crab, three-times-cooked lamb ribs or the superb Peking duck, offered as two distinct courses from the dedicated duck kitchen. As would be expected, the cocktails are superb and use lots of esoteric and unusual Chinese ingredients.Read more ...
A south-of-the-river institution, Silk Road is a northwestern Chinese restaurant specialising in Xinjiang cuisine. Snack on grilled cumin lamb skewers, feast on what is underwhelmingly called 'medium chicken' an aromatic broth redolent with star anise and chilli, chicken on the bone and potatoes. That's not all, the waiters bring superb homemade noodles to dip in the broth and slurp contentedly as part two of the dish. Order a couple of bottles of Tsingtao beer for the full Xinjiang experience. The prices are refreshingly modest, no wonder Silk Road is so popular.
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