Sandwiched between Soho and theatreland, with Gerrard Street as the main thoroughfare, there’s no mistaking Chinatown for any other part of London, thanks to the abundance of lanterns and ornate Chinese gates adorning the streets. However, Chinatown as we now know it has only existed since the late 1960s; the city’s first Chinatown was in Limehouse in the East End, springing up in the late 1800s to cater for the Chinese sailors who would arrive in the capital by boat. The combination of damage during the Blitz, increased immigration from Hong Kong, and cheap commercial rents in Soho drew London’s Chinese community west, and with a host of Chinese restaurants and supermarkets opening in the area, the Chinatown we have today was born.

As well as being able to get regional Chinese food, like spicy Sichuan at Barshu, roast meats at Cafe TPT, and Cantonese buns at Bun House, not to mention all the dim sum you could possibly want, Chinatown is also home to array of other East and South East Asian spots. Stock up on South Korean goodies at Oseyo, tuck into Malaysian classics at C&R Cafe, chow down on Taiwanese fried chicken at Good Friend, and dive into pho at Viet Food.

The Chinese New Year celebrations in Chinatown, with traditional dancing and the big parade, are the biggest outside Asia, making it an extra special time to visit the neighbourhood, but with all the incredible food to eat here, we love coming all year round.


23 Lisle St, London WC2H 7BA

It’s easy to go wrong in Chinatown but we’ve never gone wrong at Beijing Dumpling on Lisle Street. You know it’s going to be good when you spot the chefs in the window, mostly hidden by huge bamboo baskets and bellowing steam, and it doesn’t disappoint. The dumplings are fresh, the service is brisk, and it won’t cost the earth – just how Chinatown should be.


BaoziInn - Romilly Street 人民公社, Romilly Street, London

To cut right to the chase, BaoziInn has some of the best dim sum in London. The all-day menu features a range of Cantonese-style dim sum but mixed with a few touches from Sichuan and Hunan. Across the board, the dumplings are well made, fresh, and delicious so you can’t really go wrong… but we do have some top tips. From the ‘steamed’ section get the Fragrant Chilli Pork Baozi in Beetroot Juice Dough, and the Ruby Prawn Dumplings in Beetroot Pastry. From the Cheng Fen rice rolls section there are only two options, but the Dan Dan ‘Chang Fen’ with Minced Pork and Sichuan Preserved Sprout was a winner, and you should definitely get a plate of the classic pork wontons. There’s also a whole other massive menu of noodles and street food dishes too.


Good Sichuan restaurants are few and far between in London but one that has got quite the rep when it comes to southwestern Chinese cuisine is Barshu. Opening back in 2006 on Soho’s bustling Frith Street, the Chinese restaurant is still going strong, attracting a crowd of tourists and locals daily. For those who have visited Barshu before, you will know the menu is BIG, and can be overwhelming if you don’t know your stuff. Thankfully the staff are on hand to help digest and make some recommendations, something we would suggest you do too, especially if you struggle with spice. The salt & pepper soft shell crab, smacked cucumber, golden soup with seabass & Sichuan pickles, and the signature dan dan noodles are all winners but there’s also everything from pig trotters to beef tripe on the menu too.


Given the trend for regional Chinese and Thai restaurants in London in recent years, its ben a while since a new place describing itself as Pan-Asian came along. But that’s what we have with YiQi, a smart new spot on Lisle Street in Chinatown, from business partners Kevin Cheong and Keng Yew, together with Stanley Lum, who was previously at Hakkasan. The menu features his take on favourite handpicked dishes from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and mainland China, and although you might think it’s hard to pull all that off, everything is done very well indeed. Favourites include the Singaporean-style oyster omelette; stir fried clams with tangy kam heong sauce; and winged bean minced chicken fried with Thai basil. As you can imagine, it’s a pretty big menu and there’s loads on there worth a go, including house speciality seafood like skate with yuzu chilli spicy sauce, and bamboo tube rice with seafood curry. Then there’s the intriguing ‘Wagyu Mousse’ for dessert. All in all, YiQi is a great new spot for Chinatown and well worth checking out. 


Taiwanese chicken chain Monga, which has 40 sites in Taiwan plus a couple in the US, opened its first European shop in Chinatown. Monga is famous for its extra crispy fried chicken, achieved by marinating the pieces in honey instead of coating in dry flour before battering. You can then have the giant chicken fillets plain or flavoured with seaweed or spicy rub, and it also comes in nugget and popcorn form too.


Good Friend is another Chinatown spot specialising in night market-style Taiwanese fried chicken. They coat the chicken in three different flours before frying twice at two different temperatures, which is how they get the flattened breasts and nuggets of popcorn chicken so damn crispy. You can then flavour your birds with a range of different powder seasonings on the counter, including plum, curry and cumin, and don’t be afraid to shake liberally.


Get your steamed bun fix at Bun House, where Cantonese buns are very much the focus, with street food snacks and rice pots bulking out the menu. Eating here is more of a quick in-and-out job rather than somewhere you’d linger over a meal. After ordering at the counter, which is laden with those bamboo baskets, you collect your food and grab a seat wherever you can find one. The pig bun is a best seller, and with sweet, rich char siu pork encased in fluffy dough, it’s not hard to see why. The lamb bun, punched up with cumin and garlic, is also worth a go, and you can’t skip the sweet custard bun either. Be warned though, the salted egg custard floods out so don’t even attempt to split it open with your hands unless you want to be wearing it.


30 Rupert St, London W1D 6DL

They turned up the heat (literally) with Plaza Khao Gaeng in Arcade Food Hall and now Luke Farrell and JKS Restaurants have returned for round two with Speedboat Bar. The restaurant takes inspo from Bangkok’s Chinatown and the speedboats that race along the canals of Thailand, so it’s fast, furious and full of energy, including an upstairs clubhouse featuring a bar, pool table and speakers blasting Thai pop and turbo folk. Wok cookery and dishes like drunken noodles and stir fries are at the heart of Speedboat Bar, alongside the likes of tom yam mama soup; ash melon & aubergine curry; poussin with ‘chicken rice, soybean sauce’ & red roast pork; cashew nut, pork crackling & dried fish salad; and pineapple pie with purple taro ice cream. Wash it down with drinks like the Snakesblood Negroni, and the Jelly Bia made with frozen Leo Lager, and you’re guaranteed a good time.


Mamasons, the Filipino ‘dirty’ ice cream specialists (that’s the ice cream made in a steel drum with salt and ice), are serving up some seriously instagrammable scoops in Chinatown (they also have a shop in Kentish Town and a kiosk at Westfield in Shepherd’s Bush). You can get flavours like black coconut, ube (purple yam) and calamansi as well as bilog (a milk bun ice cream sandwich), ube iced lattes and halo halo, made with shaved ice, evaporated milk, coconut strings, jellies, leche flan & ube ice cream. SWEET.


Oseyo brings a little slice of South Korea to Chinatown. The supermarket is the ideal spot to stock up on Korean groceries, but you can also grab toys, stationery, houseware, accessories, K-beauty products, electronics and K-pop merch.


New Loon Moon is one of the spots that has made Chinatown into what it is today, having been one of the first Asian supermarkets in the area when it opened more than 40 years ago. The three-storey store stocks well over 4000 products from the likes of Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Burma and more. 


This dimly lit drinking den is hidden behind a jade door on Gerrard Street, perfect if you want to escape the crowds outside. You’re not in 1920s Chinatown anymore, but Opium Bar makes its best effort to convince you otherwise. Grab one of their experimental cocktails, such as the Opium No.9 (Hyogo 135 dry gin, Fortunella Golden orange liqueur, Lillet Blanc, yuzu green tea, lemon juice and simple syrup) or the Don Arturo (Ojo de Dios Café mezcal, tequila black chocolate liqueur, Ocho Blanco tequila, espresso, demerara syrup and cookies & cream mist). 


Rasa Sayang underwent a bit of a revamp in 2021, expanding both its site on Chinatown’s Macclesfield Street and its menu. The restaurant specialises in Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine, with a diverse halal offering and a menu of familiar South East Asian favourites. And if you’re after a cheap(ish) lunch (by central London standards), you can grab their one-plate lunch deal for £11.95.


Another of Chinatown’s enduring establishments, Wong Kei has been around for decades and was long-renowned as being one of the city’s rudest restaurants. Before 2014, you’d go to Wong Kei to be shouted at and line your stomach for a night out in Soho. Since then, new management has taken over and apparently purged Wong Kei of its rude creds, but you can still drop by for quick, cheap and reliable Chinese food.


Born out of the desire to bring authentic Malaysian food to London, C&R Cafe has been operating out of its Rupert Court location since 1998. C&R’s co-founder Rosa noticed a distinct lack of the cuisine in the city when she moved here from Malaysia in the 80s, so she and her husband started the cafe to bring the flavours of her childhood to a new audience. The menu consists of dishes made using family recipes that have been passed down through the generations. Expect classics such as Nasi Lemak and Malay Curry Chicken, as well as the likes of Teo Cheow Pork Belly, Mein Fan Kuih, Five Spice Lok Bak and Carrot Cake.


A favourite haunt of dumpling lovers, Dumplings’ Legend has an extensive list of classic dim sum, with some signatures mixed in there as well. They’re credited as being the first to put spicy pork and spicy crayfish into xiaolongbao, but if you don’t fancy trying those, you can choose from their list of 47 dim sum variations instead. All of Dumplings’ Legend’s dumplings are made fresh in their open-plan, glass-walled kitchen, so you can watch the action yourself – they apparently get through about 8000 a day.


A long-standing restaurant in Chinatown, Plum Valley has been passed down through generations of the same family since the 80s. The menu is full of Cantonese and Sichuan classics, as well as a selection of hand-crafted dim sum. The name hints at an old Chinese fable which tells the story of a utopian village away from the chaos of the outside world. This is the energy Plum Valley wants to replicate, providing a tranquil escape from Chinatown’s thoroughfare, Gerrard Street.


A small and unassuming spot on Wardour Street, Cafe TPT is a solid choice if you’re after some Chinese roast meats. Choose from duck, honey-roasted pork, crispy pork and soya chicken, or get a mix of two or three over rice. Otherwise, there are plenty of classics on the thorough menu – and you’ll find that most of them won’t set you back more than a tenner.


If you’re a fan of Chinese roast duck, here’s where to get it. In fact, Four Seasons’ roast duck has been rated the world’s best by the Financial Times. Apparently, the ducks, which are reared at the prestigious Silver Hill Farm in Ireland, are played soft music which relaxes them and makes their meat more tender. Stress-free ducks, while their speciality, isn’t all that’s on offer here though, there’s plenty more on offer from the extensive, seasonally changing menu.


Viet Food is a highly-rated Vietnamese restaurant at the edge of Chinatown, the first solo project from Malaysian-born chef Jeff Tan (previously Chef de Cuisine at Hakkasan in Mayfair). The menu is full of impressive and authentic dishes, covering a range of phos, vermicelli rice noodle bowls, Vietnamese modern tapas, soups, rice, salads and signature plates.


Jinli has been raking in the awards since opening in 2015, so if you’re after Sichuan food, this one’s a solid choice. From dry pots to hot pots, the menu here is stacked with Sichuanese classics and all the mouth-numbing spice you can handle. The whole seabass is a particularly impressive dish, served in a pot of chilli oil, black bean sauce, ginger and spring onions.


With a name that pays tribute to the year that Hong Kong was handed back to China from the UK, Old Town 97 is a small restaurant serving up Cantonese classics alongside a range of South East Asian dishes. Apparently, there’s a secret menu item here called ‘LSE fried rice’ which, as urban legend has it, was created by LSE students as the ideal sobering-up meal. Incidentally, this spot is open until 3.30 am – if you’re a late-night Chinese food fan, this one’s for you.


Previously the site of Harbour City, Food House is in a prime Chinatown position (it’s pretty much the first thing you’ll see if you turn off of Shaftesbury Avenue onto Gerrard Street). It’s buzzy and authentic, advertising itself as a way to “experience the real Beijing without flying to Beijing”. And this place is the real deal – classic without being too old school. In fact, in 2022 Eater mused that this may be the “hippest” restaurant in central London. 


The main attraction at Lotus Garden is their dim sum menu: a comprehensive list of well-prepared crowd-pleasers at reasonable prices. Head to the corner of Gerrard Street and Macclesfield Street to fill up on neatly sliced cheung fun, tender parcels of xiao long bao and fluffy, sweet char siu bao without breaking the bank. Or, if you fancy something else, you’ll find all your faves on Lotus Garden’s menu, whether you’re craving crispy aromatic duck with pancakes, shredded chilli beef or classic barbequed meats with rice.