Soho envelopes London’s Chinatown so naturally the neighbourhood is full of Chinese restaurants. A fast bowl of noodles, all day dim sum, fiery Sichuan fare, you’ll find it all in Soho.
There are two outposts of Yauatcha (the Soho original and the second in the City), the stylish all-day dim sum restaurant from the Hakkasan Group. And the Soho site is extremely stylish indeed with its dark tables and long blue-lit fish tank. The food is similarly beautiful, from the delicate crystal dumplings to the spicy steamed seabass. You certainly pay for the pleasure of eating at Yauatcha but for a special occasion it really hits the spot.
The Wok On Fire concept is simple – you create a dish by choosing a base (noodles, rice or vegetables), bulking it up with various meats, seafood, tofu, nuts or more veggies and finishing it with a sauce. The kitchen then cooks it up right in front of you and speedily too, often having it in your hands in five minutes.
With three floors, eight karaoke rooms and its own little footbridge over a carp pond, Imperial China is one of the biggest Chinese restaurants in the area. The food is Cantonese, with dim sum served at lunchtime and a main menu available any time of day. It’s pretty broad but the seafood options are particularly strong. If you prefer your meat, swing by at the weekend for special roast dishes that you can’t get midweek.
Sichuan cuisine is famous for its fieriness and that’s exactly what you get at Barshu. Sichuan pepper and chillies feature across the menu, in everything from deep fried frogs legs to dry wok duck tongues to hot and sour tofu. It’s slightly pricier than your average Chinatown restaurant but you’ll struggle to find regional food of the same quality elsewhere, just be prepared for the heat.
The turquoise exterior of Y Ming doesn’t scream Chinese restaurant but once you take a look at the menu you’ll see that’s exactly where you are. It’s full of classic Cantonese dishes as well as few regional gems like Dongan Chicken from Hunan, Tibetan lamb with chilli and peanuts and northern style prawns.
It may have dumpling in the name but that’s not all this little spot turns out. You can watch the chefs make the dumplings by hand in the window and they come pan-fried, steamed or soupy in the form of xiaolongbao. If you need more there are a variety of classic Chinese dishes and hot pot.
It’s not hard to locate Little Four Seasons as it’s right next door to Four Seasons proper, famed for its roast duck. You can get this signature dish at Little Four Seasons but the speciality of this house is hot pot with the pork belly and chicken with black pepper, the spicy chicken and the spicy and sour fish being particular favourites. You can also take on whole crabs coated in chilli sauce too.
This three-floor restaurant just off Leicester Square has been beloved by locals since the 1990s, thanks in part to its Chinese only specials menu – if you’re feeling adventurous you can ask the waiters for direction. It’s a classic Cantonese main menu with a strong variety of seafood and clay pot dishes plus a very large dim sum offering at lunchtime.
Stepping into Baozi Inn is like stepping back into Communist China, ironically of course – there’s lots of red and old newpapers and a portrait of Chairman Mao adorn the walls. Red features in the food too; it’s Sichuan so chillies are everywhere, with the noodle dishes being particularly potent. Be sure to try their buns too, even if you have to get them to go from the counter.
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