Golden Week – a week-long Chinese holiday that kicks off with National Day on 1 October ( the day the People’s Republic was founded in 1949) is almost upon us! It’s a week when China’s wealthiest citizens hop on long-haul flights to London to shop, play and eat in the capital’s classiest Chinese restaurants. For while Beijing’s bling ring may love our labels (think Mulberry and Burberry), they’re not quite as keen on British food. Ready your chopsticks: here’s the low-down on London’s hautest Chinese restaurants
Chinese made simple
Dim sum: starter of small steamed or deep fried dumplings with filling.
Chinese five-spice powder: contains Szechuan pepper, star anise, cinnamon, fennel seeds and cloves. The five ingredients represent the five tastes bitter, sweet, sour, salt and pungent.
Pak choi: Chinese green-leaf vegetable.
Szechuan: typically hot and spicy cooking originating from the Szechuan region of China. Often contains Chilli pepper and Szechuan pepper.
Wontons: small filled parcels often floated in soup. Won Ton means “swallowing a cloud.”
1. China Tang
David Tang’s decadent dim sum parlour and moody Shanghai restaurant, must surely rank as one of London’s finest Chinese restaurants. Located in the sumptuous Dorchester Hotel, China Tang is where Kate Moss and the rest of the Primrose Hill set head for perfectly executed Cantonese cooking (although you’ll also find Sichuan specialities such as mapo tofu on the menu). After dinner, live it up like the Last Emperor at the glamorous adjoining bar.
The Dorchester, 53 Park Lane, W1
Restaurateur Alan Yau set a new standard for Chinese fare in London, with the launch of Hakkasan back in 2001 which showed that Chinese food could be part of the fine dining scene. Ten years on and this basement den remains an excellent destination for delicate dim sum (handcrafted or steamed, braised or fried) or more high end offerings (succulent fish roasted with champagne anyone?), in opulent surroundings. As you would expect, the place is invariably packed, so do make a booking in advance.
8 Hanway Place, W1
3. Imperial China
A little oasis in the hustle and bustle of Chinatown, Imperial China is seriously good looking restaurant. Cross the wooden footbridge to reach a spacious, low lit room decorated in dark wood and cream hues. The food is equally stylish: enjoy an a la carte menu of Cantonese seafood dishes (lobster, sea bass, crab and abalone all feature), washed down a wonderful assortment of fine wines, champagnes, cocktails or sake. All told, this is a wonderful place for authentic Chinese food – something the reassuring number of Chinese diners, suggests.
White Bear Yard, 25A Lisle Street, WC2
4. Min Jiang
First impressions of Min Jiang are fabulous. Take the lift to the 10th floor of the Royal Garden Hotel where you will be greeted by jaw dropping views of Kensington Gardens. But while the vistas are superlative, it’s the food that is nonetheless the star attraction. The menu reads brilliantly – so well in fact that you want to order it all. Mains could include Sichuan classics such as Double cooked pork belly with Chinese leek and Roasted chicken with fen pi in Sichuan sauce. However the restaurant is renowned for its own version of Peking duck – aka Beijing’s signature dish. Finish with Fresh mango cream with sago pearls and pomelo – a satisfyingly, sweet delight.
2-24 Kensington High Street, W8
Yauatcha might have opened its doors seven years ago but is still one of London’s most fabulous and fashionable Chinese dining venues. This Soho stalwart serves innovative dim sum (think roast duck & pumpkin dumplings, or pear & taro croquettes), as well as range of teas and delicious pastries to a see and be seen crowd; Carrie and the girls would feel right at home here. We wish there were more places like this.
15 Broadwick Street, W1