London’s Chinatown is a tourist must, to see the red lantern-lined streets and try some of the best Asian food in London. However the sheer number of Chinese restaurants, Taiwanese tea shops and Asian bakeries can understandably be overwhelming to those who aren’t in the know. Plus, some of the Chinatown restaurants are real tourist traps, so if all you want is good Chinese food in London that’s cheap and cheerful then we’ve scoped out the real gems.
Luong bao, jianbing, steamed buns, stir-fried noodles, Asian fried chicken... These are some of the best cheap places to eat in Chinatown London, so you can enjoy your handmade dumplings without a hefty bill at the end!
Head to these places to feast on the city’s best Chinese food and celebrate Chinese New Year in London!
1. Jen Cafe
Find the quaint, green-painted eatery on the corner of Newport Place and Newport Court just on the outskirts of the main streets of Chinatown and tucked away from the crowds. Jen Cafe is a tiny little dumpling house and the ideal place for a lunchtime pitstop. See the dumplings being made fresh by hand in the window at the front, rolling and stuffing dough before pinching it back together quickly and yet carefully getting each one perfect. Take a seat on one of the few cosy tables and try the super juicy spicy pork and vegetable Beijing dumplings . Order these with one of their speciality teas to wash it down after. For a filling and really delicious lunch, Jen Cafe will only set you back £5 for 8 of the best dumplings in London.
2. Baozi Inn
Get ready to spice up your palette during a meal at the Boazi Inn on Newport Court, as the Szechuan dishes cooked up in here are as authentic as they come. They describe their food as Northern Chinese street food, but if you’d rather sit while eating up your dim sum or dan dan noodles (which we totally recommend), then you can. Everything on the menu is packed with flavour and is hearty and affordable. If you’re just passing by, the snacks can cost as little as £1.30, but the rice and noodles can be just £4.50!
3. Good Friend
When you think about Taiwan, fried chicken probably won’t be the first thing that comes to mind, but once you take that first perfectly crisp, juicy bite, prepare for that to change. We would go as far as to say this is some of the best fried chicken in London, and it’s seriously easy on the wallet. The takeaway shop fries all the chicken to order so it’s as fresh and tender as can be. Three different flours are used to give it the crisp it’s known and loved for, and you know they mean business when the oven is shipped over all the way from Asia’s foodie capital in Taiwan. Costing around £6 for a giant piece of chicken and £4.50 for popcorn chicken, you’d be a fool not to try.
4. Cafe TPT
The kitchen might be tiny but the dishes are packed with BIG flavours. Don’t be intimidated by the hefty menu, just stick to the Cantonese classics and you can be guaranteed that Cafe TPT will do your old favourites the justice it deserves. The interior is simple but the food makes up for it, and when you’re paying less than £9 for flavours like these, we doubt you’ll even notice. Fancy a few dumplings at midnight? Lucky for you, TPT stays open until 1am for these kinda middle of the night cravings.
Bake and Chinatown Bakery are two of Chinatown London’s most visited bakeries for the huge variety of Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian and Korean sweet treats. Cakes, tarts, buns and bubble waffles are just a few of the options but the savoury bakes are also droolworthy. Pop in after your main meal in Chinatown for dessert or make it a pitstop on your way around London for a tasty snack on the go. One of their most famous bakes is the fish-shaped Taiyaki waffles which are stuffed with a deliciously sweet and creamy custard - a definite chinatown must-try!
6. Dumplings' Legend
The dumplings at this Chinatown restaurant are, as you’d expect, pretty legendary amongst Londoners. The price you pay for a portion of steamed dumplings is seriously good value, making it a real hotspot for those that want to sit down and satisfy their dumpling cravings ASAP. Dumplings’ Legend is a great place to head before catching a West End show, as you know you’ll be served quickly and it’s not going to add a huge extra expense to your evening. Watch the dim sum masters perfect each dumpling through the window to the kitchen and order a selection of different steamed buns, dumplings or luong baos to share between your table.
You can get 8 pieces of luong bao for just £6 in a variety of flavours, or if it’s not dumplings you fancy then the rest of the menu is packed with every Chinese dish you can think of at really affordable prices.
7. Chinese Tapas House
Get a taste of authentic Chinese street food at the Chinese Tapas House - more like a little kitchen counter on the corner of Little Newport Street. Here you’ll find the best jianbing in London Chinatown. For those that aren’t sure, jianbing is a Chinese breakfast-style pancake that’s thin, crisp and covered in egg, coriander, spring onion, fried bread, crispy wonton skin and a hot chilli sauce. Plus it’s all made fresh to order on a traditional Chinese hot plate and costs from £4. If you find yourself in the proximity of Chinatown on a hangover, jianbing is a tried and tested saviour!
8. Bun House
Squeeze your way into Chinatown’s tiny little tea and bun house on Lisle Street, where steamed buns come out by the basket load stuffed with a variety of flavours. Beef, chicken, lamb, pork, fish, veg and custard are all on the bun list for £2.50 each. When you’re around Chinatown looking for somewhere to sit down for a cup of tea and a snack with an Asian twist, Bun House is a great option (plus they also serve beer here). Enjoy the pretty interiors and freshly steamed buns, or take them with you as you carry on exploring London or eating around Chinatown.