From the 1930s Shanghai-inspired revelry of Park Chinois, to Min Jiang’s spectacular view of Kensington Gardens, London is home to some of the world’s most remarkable high-end Chinese restaurants. And, with the start of February seeing Lunar New Year celebrations kick off across the capital, what better way to honour the Year of the Dragon than with a taste of the city’s best Chinese cuisine? Offering everything from Taiwanese noodle soup and bao buns to Peking duck and Char Sui, read on for our pick of the best Chinese fine dining restaurants London has to offer.
The Ivy Asia, Chelsea, Mayfair and St Paul’s
One of the most opulent offerings in London, The Ivy Asia first came to the capital in 2019 and has now become something of a city-wide institution. If you’re after good Asian food which doesn’t ever compromise on quality or taste, you can be sure to find it here. The restaurant is theatrical, from the food and drinking story it creates to the vibrant surroundings. The floor is aglow with an emerald-green hue and the walls pop with pink flowers, large mirrors and contemporary wallpapers. And while the surroundings are impressive, it’s The Ivy Asia’s menus which take centre stage.
There’s an array of Asian-inspired dishes on offer, but the stand-out Chinese dishes include the aromatic duck salad with mango, pak choi and ponzu; the light and fluffy prawn tempura; and the char siu pork belly with a smoky barbecue glaze and sesame chilli sauce. The Ivy Asia also offers an afternoon tea selection every day from 3pm, where guests can indulge in duck spring rolls, vegetable dumplings and a selection of Asian-inspired patisserie with a glass of champagne.
Mei Ume, Tower Hill
Chinese and Japanese cuisines meet at Mei Ume in a colourful selection of sushi, sashimi and Asian dishes. The restaurant encourages a casual dining atmosphere in its maroon-themed setting, with a selection of smaller plates perfect for lighter meals and traditional main course options. To kick off your Chinese fine dining feast, opt for the dim sum menu and choose between everything from classic vegetarian spring rolls to steamed pork siu mai.
One of Mei Ume’s most popular dishes is the whole Peking duck, which is designed for sharing, and is served first with pancakes, leeks and cucumber followed by a crispy duck salad with cherry tomatoes and tonkatsu dressing.
Hakkasan, Mayfair and Fitzrovia
When it launched in Fitzrovia in 2001, Hakkasan’s aim was to reimagine ancient gastronomy for the modern day. Judging by the phenomenal success that the restaurant chain has enjoyed around the world – the group now operates in 14 locations that stretch from Las Vegas to Shanghai – we’d say it was mission accomplished. Signature à la carte dishes include crispy Peking duck, Hakka noodles, and roasted silver cod in champagne and soy, all accompanied by a collection of exclusive fine wines and champagnes curated by its expert sommeliers.
Just a stone’s throw from Victoria, two Michelin-starred A.Wong celebrates the vast diversity of food culture held within China’s 14 international borders with its artful, contemporary take on ancient recipes and traditional dishes. Paying homage to authentic tastes and centuries of rich gastronomic heritage, chef Andrew Wong’s menus encapsulate the essence of Chinese cuisine with an emphasis on the country’s culture of communal dining. From the restaurant’s renowned dim sum lunches and extensive à la carte selection to its ‘Collection of China’ three-hour multi-course menu – with each dish representing a specific region – guests are encouraged to share multiple dishes as part of a collection.
Park Chinois, Mayfair
Despite the top-hatted concierges at the front door, Park Chinois on Berkeley Street remains something of a hidden gem – a sexy, tasty secret you’re not likely to forget once you’ve discovered it. Serving up cuisine inspired by Shanghai supper clubs of the 1930s, the à la carte menu boasts an impressive selection of dim sum, including Wagyu beef gyoza, Szechuan vegetable dumplings and har gau, and its signature Duck de Chine. The Mayfair spot also offers a choice of five set menus for group dining, combining the best of its Asian fusion fare.
Imperial Treasure, St James’s
The London outpost of Chinese fine-dining group Imperial Treasure, which has locations in Shanghai, Incheon, Guangzhou, Singapore, Hong Kong and Paris, is housed in an impressively-renovated former bank in St James’s and offers refined Cantonese classics, which more than stand up to their surroundings. While the Michelin-star menu includes a fine array of dim sum, char sui and more unusual dishes (chicken’s feet, sea cucumber and jellyfish all make an appearance), the signature here is the Beijing-style roasted duck – a sophisticated take on your local takeaway’s crispy aromatic version that has been steamed, dried, seasoned, hung and then roasted to a deep orange hue with skin so crispy it shatters like glass. Yes, it costs more than £100 (£200 if you add caviar) and has to be ordered in advance, but, trust us, it’s worth it.
Min Jiang, Kensington
For more than a decade, customers have been visiting Min Jiang for its spectacular view of Kensington Gardens and staying for its delicious Szechuan and Cantonese cuisine. Located on the 10th floor of the Royal Garden Hotel on Kensington High Street, the restaurant’s chefs specialise in a medley of cooking styles and techniques that have been passed down through generations. If you order one thing, make it the wood-fired Beijing duck, which is roasted for 45 minutes and presented in two servings: first, the skin is crisped with granulated sugar and served with pancakes, and then the meat is served with your choice of noodles, rice, soup or lettuce wraps.
Yauatcha, Soho and City of London
With outposts in Soho and the City, Cantonese-European-patisserie-mash-up Yauatcha has been serving up all-day dim sum to hungry Londoners for nearly 20 years. Choices include everything from open-topped scallop shumai dumplings, venison puffs and crispy duck rolls, to sweet and sour pork and Singapore vermicelli noodles. Don’t miss the restaurant’s Taiwanese pineapple pastries – the sweet buttery cake, which has caramelised pineapple at its centre, is said to hold the key to prosperity and good fortune. Elsewhere, Yauatcha’s vegan menu includes a selection of dishes from foraged mushroom buns and long beans with ginger, garlic and black bean to baby pak choi and silken tofu with shiitake mushroom claypot.
Bao, across London
Bao’s modern take on the traditional Taiwanese street food from which it takes its name was an instant hit when its first location opened in Soho in 2015. Now with six restaurants in the capital, including the newly-opened Bao Noodle Shop in Battersea, it’s hard to remember a time when there weren’t queues out the door for its fluffy steamed buns stuffed with confit pork, lamb shoulder and daikon. Small plates make for a fun mix-and-match dining experience paired with an extensive list of cocktails, wines, beers and Bao’s Dream Drinks, which have their roots in Asia’s bubble and milk-foam tea cultures. Oh, and do save room for a milk tea ice cream bao bun for dessert. It’s a true revelation.
The Good Earth, across London
The Good Earth has been a staple Chinese restaurant in the capital ever since founder Holland Kwok opened his first restaurant on the King’s Road in 1979. 43 years later The Good Earth name is widely known and loved across south-west London, with Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton calling the Wandsworth branch “a godsend” when it opened. The extensive menu boasts a combination of traditional classics, like dry shredded beef and aromatic duck, and unique, contemporary dishes such as wasabi prawns, tangerine karaage chicken and Golden Sands Dover sole.
Bun House, Soho
Founded by husband-and-wife team Alex Peffly and Z He, Bun House, as its name suggests, specialises in Cantonese-style steamed buns. The restaurant, found on Lisle Street, is the sister to Wun’s Tearoom and Bar on Greek Street and it has quickly become one of the capital’s go-tos for sweet and savoury steamed buns that pack a punch. Stars of the show include the char siu pork belly ‘Pig Bun’, cumin-spiced lamb and its much-loved custard bun. Keep an eye out for novelty buns in the run-up to special occasions. The Bun House chefs love to get creative, and have been known to craft charming penguin buns for Christmas, rainbow buns for Pride and pumpkin buns for Halloween.
Founded in Belgravia in 1982 by Chef Peng (who you’ll still find working the burners today), Hunan is perhaps the most unusual restaurant on this list thanks to the fact that it does not – and never has – had a menu. Rather diners are simply encouraged to tell staff if there’s anything they don’t eat and how spicy they enjoy their food. Then they are invited to sit back and enjoy a parade of tapas-style Chinese small plates that may include traditional dishes from Hunan province alongside the restaurant’s signature crispy frogs’ legs and fermented bamboo shoots. There’s also a noteworthy wine list focused on bottles from Bordeaux, Burgundy and the New World, as well as an ever-changing list of fine wines available in tiny quantities for true connoisseurs.
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