March 04, 2015

A Guide to Eating in Chinatown, London | How to Spot an Authentic Restaurant


Chinatown in London has been around for years and years. It brings back fond nostalgic memories of dim sum Sundays with my family, buying my favourite imported magazines from Hong Kong and of my parents shopping in the crazily packed supermarkets. The choices of restaurants have really changed over the years, with Chinese food from all regions of China and beyond. New restaurants pop up, and old ones slip away.

How to choose an authentic Chinese restaurant amongst the choice I hear you say? Here are a few rules to stick to:

1   Look for a good number of Chinese/Asian customers already seated and eating inside. Chances are, these guys eat here regularly because the food is good. If the restaurant is filled mostly with non-Asians (no offence!), the menu choice may be limited to "Western-Chinese Food". If authentic food is on your agenda, best to avoid these restaurants.

2   Be open to other regions of Chinese cuisines, such as Sichuan food, Taiwanese cuisine and the neighboring countries; Singaporean and Malaysian eateries. These guys make up the minority in Chinatown and therefore are good at what they cook to stay in business.

3  Don't be put off by scary or rude waiters. In local Chinese restaurants around the world, waiting staff are not exactly known for their excellent customer service or for being the most attentive. If you can see beyond this, you open up opportunities in finding real Chinese food. 

4  Restaurants with all the glorious roast meats hanging up at the window are a yes. Coupled with No.1, that's a double yes. 

5  Always choose the grubbier looking restaurants over the blinging ones. The old-school ones will have been around for years and business is too good to be wasted on closing the doors for a few weeks to 'refresh & update'. 

Stay tuned for the next installment of this post, where I will list my favourite China Town eateries. 

If you need ideas on top things to do in London, take a look at this travel guide.


  1. this is cool, i'll keep it in mind for when i can make it back to london :)

    xx danielle // shades of danielle

    1. Thank you Danielle, I hope you find it useful! :)

  2. I’m in love with your blog! I like your photos and style of writing! I know that it requires so much time to update blog, but keep doing it!)
    I’ll be happy to see you in my blog!)

    Diana Cloudlet

    1. Hi Diana, what a lovely thing to say! Thank you so much, you made my day :)
      I'll head over now x

  3. Great tips doll :)


  4. I really want to have some nice dumplings in China Town. I went to Oriental Delight recently and the sweet selection was amazing and really well priced!


    1. Hi Jaye, my new post on my top ten eats in Chinatown is up! I love the soup dumpling - xiaolongbao from Leong's Legend, but Dumplings Legend, Beijing Dumpling and Jen Cafe all do good ones too.

      You're right about Oriental Delight, lots of great snacks but I find them overpriced! New loon fung and see woo sometimes stock the same stuff for a lot less! :)

  5. These are really good tips, Lucy! There isn't a China Town where I live so I always feel a little lost when I visit China Town in other places and am trying to find a good spot to dine at. Super helpful reading this :)

    1. Thanks Kie, glad you liked them. Not everyone is comfortable with this, but usually the grubbier and dirtier they are (but they are busy!) the more authentic they are :)


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Maira Gall