rom the 1930s Shanghai-inspired revelry of Park Chinois, to Min Jiang's spectacular view of Kensington Gardens, London is home to some of the most remarkable Chinese restaurants serving up an impressive array of East Asian treats year-round. And as celebrations for Lunar New Year commence across the capital, what better way to honour the Year of the Tiger 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.
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 12 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.
To celebrate the Year of the Tiger, Hakkasan’s Mayfair and Hanway Place locations are offering up a decadent set menu. Starting things off properly, the Chinese New Year menu features a specially created tiger-themed cocktail, the King of Fujian, mixing Belvedere vodka with a refreshing yet flavourful blend of lychee, kumquat, passion fruit, lemon juice and basil. Highlights include the Trio of Happiness dim sum platter (with crispy, baked truffle duck and wild mushroom puffs and a tiger prawn dumpling), stir fried Wagyu beef and bone marrow with osmanthus soy, and, for dessert, a tiger-striped orange dark chocolate firecracker and mandarin sorbet.
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 ‘Taste of China’ 13-course tasting menu – with each dish representing a specific region – guests are encouraged to share multiple dishes as part of a collection. Downstairs, the Forbidden City bar welcomes guests into an opulent oriental oasis to experience an expertly crafted selection of cocktails inspired by different regions of the vast country.
The new evening set menu – launched to coincide with Chinese New Year 2022 and the commencement of the Year of the Tiger – takes inspiration from Wong’s ongoing research with food anthropologist Dr Mukta Das and the Confucian ritual of grouping in fives. Mirroring the movements of historical Imperial banquets of the Qing dynasty, the five-course menu invites guests to sample an assortment of dishes in an authentic Chinese dining experience. Highlights include seared black lamb with chilli and peanuts, cherry smoked ‘Memories of Peking’ duck with plum and caviar, and cod cheek with fermented chilli and scalded Chinese chives. Celebrating traditional Buddhist cooking, an entirely vegetarian menu is also available, featuring Char Sui soy with honey, grated macadamia and Comte, grilled leek with fermented tofu sauce, puffed fritter, lily bulb, pickled daikon and dried bean curd, and stuffed morels with black pepper sauce and pickled palm.
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 blue swimmer crab puffs, and its signature Duck de Chine. The Mayfair spot also offers a choice of four 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 and offers refined Cantonese classics, which more than stand up to their surroundings. While the menu includes a fine array of dim sum, Char Sui and more unusual dishes (chicken’s feet, sea cucumber and fish maw 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 £100 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 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 shui mai 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 four restaurants in the capital, including the newly opened Bao Noodle Shop in Shoreditch, 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. For Chinese New Year they’ve dreamed up a delectable afternoon tea set, fittingly themed after beloved children’s book The Tiger Who Came To Tea.
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 bin ends list of fine wines available in tiny quantities for true connoisseurs.