Given that it’s so close to Chinatown, it’s not that surprising that Covent Garden is full of great restaurants. From pho and ramen, to Thai barbecue, eat your way around the continent with our pick of the best Asian restaurants in the area.
inamo is a restaurant of the future. Rather than someone coming to take your order, you place it yourself via tablet. You can change the decoration that’s projected onto your table, play games like Pong and even watch what’s happening in the kitchen on their “chef cam”. The pan-Asian menu, which features sushi, Thai curries and five spice duck, is designed to be shared, in keeping with the playful and interactive atmosphere.
Sticks ‘n’ Sushi started life in Denmark over twenty years ago before expanding to London. The focus is on yakitori and sushi and they have an impressive selection of sashimi, maki and nigiri, as well as meat and veggie skewers for those who aren’t fish fans. Look out for their platters, which are perfect if you’re in a group and just can’t decide on what to try.
Latin America meets Asia at this acclaimed fusion restaurant in the St Martin’s Lane Hotel. Inspired by Havana’s Chinatown, which has thrived since Chinese workers migrated to the Cuban sugarcane fields in the 1850s, Asia de Cuba was one of the first places to do this kind of fusion in the late nineties and it’s still going strong. The mix of flavours and ingredients results in dishes like slow braised short rib spring rolls, chipotle glazed tofu and Thai chilli chocolate doughnuts, and they still taste fresh and exciting.
The Bone Daddies group has established a nice little empire by giving Japanese dishes a US rock & roll twist. Flesh & Buns is their version of an izakaya, which serves up gua bao steamed buns with a range of different “flesh” fillings as well as small plates, sushi rolls and hybrid desserts like passionfruit marshmallow s’mores. It’s the place to come for fun, moreish food and a lively atmosphere.
For fresh, authentic Vietnamese food in Covent Garden, Com Viet should be your first stop. They’ve stuck to traditional recipes, meaning you can tuck into steaming bowls of pho as well as classic noodle dishes, stir-fries and rolls for very reasonable prices.
Normally confined to the starters section of most Japanese restaurants, dumplings are the stars of the show at Gyoza Bar (although they do serve other dishes like ramen and bao buns). But you come here for the gyoza, which you can choose to have steamed, pan fried or deep-fried, so order plenty of these and leave the ramen for another time.
Although undoubtedly one of the most diverse culinary cities in the world, Laotian food has been a bit thin on the ground in London until the Lao Café opened. Originally a pop-up from Saiphin Moore, the woman behind Rosa’s Thai Café, Lao Café serves traditional cuisine – vibrant salads, grilled meats, curries, hot pots and plenty of sticky rice – in a communal, sharing style. If you’re a fan of Thai and Vietnamese food you’ll find plenty to enjoy here, as well as some unusual additions like ant’s eggs.
Right on Shaftesbury Avenue at the very edge of Chinatown, is Burmese restaurant The Shan State, taking its name from the northern province of the country. Order from the street food menu so you can try a diverse selection of dishes, including the laphet tea leaf salad and tom yum popping chicken, before getting a noodle soup. The Shan State also has a dessert menu that features treats from across Asia and a big bubble tea list too.
The food at Murakami is just what you’d expect from a modern Japanese restaurant, well-prepared and presented sashimi, tempura, robata dishes and sushi, including some of their own signature rolls – but it’s the décor that really makes the place stand out. The restaurant was designed with the five elements of Japanese philosophy in mind and the result is lots of wood, earthy tones and bright green living walls.
The Covent Garden branch of Kanada-Ya is both very small and extremely popular, which means there’s often a queue snaking out the door. Once you do make it inside though, you’re rewarded with exceptional ramen. All six varieties are fairly traditional – so that means they all contain meat, sorry veggies – but you can select how firm you’d like your noodles and add a few extra toppings. Go, queue and slurp away.
Shoryu Ramen is known for their Hakata tonkotsu ramen from the southern island of Kyushu, which has a creamy pork bone broth base and thin, straight noodles. Their tetsunabe gyoza, served in a cast-iron skillet are also worth an order too and they have a strong range of sake available too.
This dive bar-restaurant celebrates rare-breed meats, fresh fish and Thai barbecue. Naturally for a barbecue restaurant, smoke is a predominant component featuring in everything from an aubergine salad, to lamb ribs and to the titular goat shoulder. If you’re feeling adventurous, drop in on a Monday to try their special changing offal menu.