A Local's Complete Guide to London Chinatown
Bordered by four striking Qing-era style gates with Soho to north and Covent Garden to the east, London‘s Chinatown sits right in the heart of the city.
Chinatown is one of the most colourful and thriving areas of London packed full to brim with restaurants, bars, interesting shops, supermarkets, health clinics, nail salons and bakeries.
There’s something to suit everyone here. High-end fancy restaurants sit next to simple, cheap eateries and buffets. At first, it was a hub for Cantonese cuisine. But today you’ll also find the likes of delicious Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, Malaysian and Singaporean.
With its close proximity to the West-End and extremely busy nightlife with restaurants open later than other parts of the city, London Chinatown is a fantastic place for a post-theatre meal.
No time to read this post on London Chinatown now? Save it for later!
History of London Chinatown
The history of London Chinatown dates back to long before the bustling streets lined with restaurants and lanterns you see today.
This was, until World War II when Limehouse was completely destroyed by bombing and a large decline in shipping. Chinese Immigrants needed a new place to live.
After the war, a huge wave of immigrants coming from Hong Kong had heard of Soho’s reputation for its great nightlife and cheap rent.
Fortunately for them, British soldiers returning from the Far East had developed a taste for Chinese cuisine and so began the development of supermarkets and restaurants.
Their success attracted the Chinese still living in Limehouse. By the end of the 1960s, Chinatown had been established as the epicentre of London’s Chinese community.
WHERE TO EAT IN LONDON CHINATOWN
Some of the top restaurants in London Chinatown include:
This eatery, famed for its roast duck, became so successful after its opening in 1990, it had to open another restaurant just around the corner. Dubbed by the Financial Times as having “the best roast duck in the world”, don’t be surprised if you find yourself having to queue to get a table.
Renowned for its Xiao Long Bao, minimalist Dumplings Legend is one of the most established and esteemed restaurants in Chinatown. With one skilful dim sum and Xiao Long Bao chef, they have now expanded their menu with the help of another chef specialising in North-Eastern Chinese and South-East Asian cuisine. They serve a whopping 8000 dumplings a day!!
If the hustle and bustle of Gerrard Street is a bit much, this stylish restaurant boasting a vast dim sum menu is the perfect tranquil escape. Its name comes from a Chinese fable that tells the story of a utopian village living in harmony with nature, oblivious to the chaos of the outside world. Inside, the décor mixes elements of traditional Chinese gardens with a modern aesthetic. Their menu is rooted in a similar philosophy.
Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour
For something a bit different, head to this speakeasy-style cocktail lounge and dim sum parlour. Set over three floors of a historic townhouse, everything is inspired by all things Chinese. From the vintage décor to the cocktail ingredients and flavours and the dim sum menu. This is the perfect place for a spot of post-theatre dining as it’s open until 3am at the weekends.
This authentic and reliable restaurant really stands apart from its neighbours. As soon as you step inside you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to China as you walk over the quaint footbridge spanning a carp pond. The team of Hong Kong chefs serve up a satisfying dim sum menu at lunch with over 60 choices ranging from your traditional favourites to a few quirkier options and Cantonese à la carte in the evening.
This dessert shop has taken the popular Hong Kong street food, egg-shaped waffles and added their own delicious unique twist. You’ll start by picking your base; original, chocolate or matcha. You’ll then choose your fillings; banana, strawberry, cheesecake gelato, pecan, Nutella and many many more. To top it off, choose from a selection of sauces such as red bean or salted caramel. The hexagonal shape and spherical pockets of batter add extra bite and texture. Not to mention it’s the perfect Instagram dessert!
If Korean food is more to your fancy, check out Olle; a fast-casual Korean BBQ restaurant.
Serving only premium cuts and the highest quality of ingredients, this loud, bustling restaurant will appeal to a variety of tastes and budgets. To top off the whole experience, all of the food is sizzled on your own tabletop stove.
Events In London Chinatown
Colourful street processions around Trafalgar Square, performances from local artists, traditional food and craft stalls, martial arts and dancing. All of the festivities are free to take part in.