If you have ever visited one of London’s plethora of Chinese restaurants, the likelihood is that you have sampled dim sum. Just in case you have forgotten what this staple of Chinese cuisine is all about though, here is a quick refresher; dim sum is a style of food originating from China, which consists of a selection of miniature dishes traditionally enjoyed in the afternoon alongside a pot of tea.
The selection normally features a variety of steamed and fried buns, rolls and dumplings in both sweet and savoury flavours, filled with everything from pork, to chicken, to beef (there are veggie varieties too). Dim sum has taken on a life of its own in London, with restaurants from Shoreditch to Soho and Marylebone to Mayfair all serving up delectable platters of the stuff. Dim sum literally translates into English as “touch the heart” and it’s hard not to fall in love with these little parcels of joy. With so many restaurants serving dim sum around the capital though, how do you know which ones are worth your time? In life, you dim sum and you lose some (sorry), but our pick of the best dim sum London has to offer should help you to avoid any bad experiences.
All of the restaurants that have been included in our curated list of the best dim sum in London have been tried and tested by our team of professional food critics, so you can trust that these spots are more than worth a visit. If you have got a hankering for steamed pork ribs and shrimp dumplings, or you fancy getting steamy with some buns, check out our pick of the best dim sum you can find in London below – trust us when we say you will not be disappointed.
Best dim sum Soho
What: With two London locations (there’s another in Broadgate Circle), Yauatcha has gained a reputation in the capital as one of the swishest dim sum spots in town. You can expect a rather hefty bill come the meal’s end, but it will be worth it to try the likes of perfectly steamed pork and prawn filled dumplings, as well as the now-famous roasted venison puffs, which arrive encased in a flaky, warm and buttery pastry shell.
Where: 15-17 Broadwick Street,W1F 0DL
Golden Dragon, Soho
What: Golden Dragon may not be as high-gloss as competitors Hakkasan and Yauatcha, but what it lacks in style, it more than makes up for in substance. Dining here means filling up on copious amounts of dim sum, which is served daily until 5pm. Tuck into the tempting likes of char siu pork buns and Vietnamese crispy spring rolls, while braver diners can try the less conventional steamed chicken feet in a black bean sauce.
Where: 28-29 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JW
The Duck & Rice, Soho
What: In recent years, weekend brunch has practically become a rite of passage for Londoners, and The Duck & Rice is home to one of the best dim sum brunches in town. Stop by here to enjoy xiao long bao, chicken feet with black bean and chilli, and baked venison puffs. To wash all that down, there’s a selection of cocktails and beers, while those staying away from booze can pick from a wide range of speciality teas.
Where: 90 Berwick Street, W1F 0QB
What: BaoziInn, a mini chain of Cantonese restaurants, is both understated and underrated - head here for the signature barbecued pork baozi buns, which feature a soft and fluffy coating that gives way to a sweet, sticky center. Elsewhere on the succinct dim sum menu, you can find the likes of Chengdu dumplings served in a broth, while washing down your dinner with Asian-inspired mocktails such as the Green Vacation, a blend of lychee and green tea.
Where: 24 Romilly Street, W1D 5AH
Ugly Dumpling, Soho
What: Although perhaps not one for dim sum purists, there’s still plenty of fun to be had at Ugly Dumpling. The teeny tiny dining room is home to a menu of both classic and not-so-classic dim sum. So, you can keep things traditional with the likes of pork belly and aromatic duck dumplings, or opt for adventure by choosing a cheeseburger dumpling or a vegan variety filled with artichoke and sun dried tomato.
Where: 1 Newburgh Street, W1F 7RB
Dumplings Legend, Soho
What: Dumplings Legend comes with built in lofty expectations thanks to that memorable name, but we’re happy to report that most of the time this place gets it right. We find the evening menu here to be a little conventional, so you’re better off stopping by at lunchtime, when you’ll find a whole host of delightful dim sum to tuck into. Our top order? The wonderfully delicate house special of siu long bao, which is served hot with a splash of vinegar.
Where: 15-16 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JE
Joy King Lau, Soho
What: This long established Chinatown restaurant spreads itself across three floors and serves a daily menu of dim sum, with many British born Chinese having visited here during their childhood. This is a fast-moving, no-frills restaurant (especially if you visit during a busy period), but in terms of authenticity and fair pricing, Joy King Lau is hard to beat. Pick from the traditional likes of chiu chow dumplings and spicy chicken feet.
Where: 3 Leicester Street, WC2 7BL
What: Set across three floors of a Soho townhouse, Opium is a dim sum parlour and cocktail bar inspired by 1920s Shanghai. The fun decor and seductive atmosphere make it a great date night spot, while the menu of delectable dim sum is well paired with an extensive list of cocktails. Our top picks include the lobster dumplings and the barbecue pork buns, while from the drinks, the Five Hit Punch is a lethally addictive concoction.
Where: 15-16 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JE
Plum Valley, Soho
What: Unassuming Chinatown haunt Plum Valley is decked out with a minimalist aesthetic and a few statement art pieces inspired by Asia, which allows the food here to really do the talking. The dim sum menu here is shorter than at many of its contemporaries, but the quality shines through. Plum Valley is best at traditional dumpling varieties such as har gau, but it offers less conventional takes too, as well as a cracking list of cocktails.
Where: 20 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JQ
Tao Tao Ju, Soho
What: Chinatown restaurants have a bit of a reputation for being low-key, no-frills joints, but Tao Tao Ju bucks the trend by being one of the area’s more elegant restaurants. Tao Tao Ju serves up a concise selection of pan-Asian dim sum which means you can stick to Chinese offerings such as crispy prawn wontons, scallop dumplings and pork char siu buns which are filled with sticky-sweet pork, or you can see what the rest of Asia has to offer via the likes of Vietnamese-style spring rolls.
Where: 15 Lisle Street, WC2H 7BE
Best dim sum Mayfair
China Tang at The Dorchester, Mayfair
What: China Tang could possibly do with a freshen up, but that would certainly take away some of its charm – this place oozes old-school glamour and if the walls could talk, we’re sure they’d have a scandalous story or two to tell (Kate Moss famously held her 40th birthday party here). From the extensive dim sum offering, we’d recommend ordering the Cha Siu Bao (a steamed bun filled with barbecue pork) and the steamed lobster dumpling.
Where: 53 Park Lane, W1K 1QA
What: Hakkasan has 12 locations around the globe (with two London sites), but we’d argue that the Mayfair branch is the sexiest. The restaurant has an ineffable air of cool and is regularly packed with the rich and famous. Luckily, the dim sum matches the grand interiors, with the likes of crab, caviar and Wagyu beef all having been employed. Prices are sky high, but the dim sum lunch menu offers a (slightly) more affordable way in.
Where: 17 Bruton Street, W1J 6QB
Park Chinois, Mayfair
What: Mayfair restaurants already have quite the reputation for elaborate design and Park Chinois certainly does not disappoint with its interiors, which are modelled after the speakeasies of 1930s Shanghai. The opulent features such as swan-shaped taps in the loos and gold-plated columns in the basement Club Chinois are matched by a superior dim sum menu, which features the decadent likes of a black truffle dumplings, Wagyu beef gyoza and prawn toast topped with foie gras.
Where: 17 Berkeley Street, W1J 8EA
Best dim sum Marylebone
Phoenix Palace, Marylebone
What: With over 300 dishes available across eight separate menus, you certainly won’t be short of choice at Phoenix Palace. Dim sum is served daily until 4.45pm and includes barbecue pork buns, and grilled chicken gyozas, as well as a crispy seaweed roll with mushed prawns. The ultra-traditional décor (think long back chairs, intricate wood carvings and hanging laterns) and the pleasingly efficient service are further reasons to fall in love with this Chinese old timer.
Where: 5 Glentworth Street, NW1 5PG
The Royal China Club, Marylebone
What: The flagship branch of the Royal China group has still got it and is ideal for an evening of decadent feasting (there are five private dining rooms should you want an extra touch of exclusivity). From the dim sum menu, you can sample the likes of a pan-fried duck bun, deep-fried crispy onion cakes, and lobster dumplings with herbs and garlic. Dim sum even makes an appearance at dessert, where you’ll find steamed custard buns.
Where: 40-42 Baker Street, W1U 7AJ
Bright Courtyard Club, Marylebone
What: Finding its home on Baker Street, this London outpost of the acclaimed Shanghai original is a buzzy spot, complete with a wall of wine and a chocolate and cream colour scheme. Dim sum can be enjoyed in Bright Courtyard Club's tea lounge or the main dining room, and on the menu you can expect to see the likes of sesame prawn toast, spicy jellyfish and Shanghai-style mini spare ribs. It's worth exploring the Euro-centric wine list too.
Where: 43-45 Baker Street, W1U 8EW
Best dim sum Covent Garden
RedFarm, Covent Garden
What: An import from New York, RedFarm has gained Insta fame thanks to its colourful dumplings that are made to look like PacMan characters. Although this is not the place for Chinese food purists, there is lots of fun to be had; check out the xiao long bao soup dumplings which arrive with the handy addition of a straw to suck up the pork and prawn broth, or indulge with a helping of cheeseburger spring rolls.
Where: 9 Russell Street, WC2B 5HZ
Din Fai Tung, Covent Garden
What: Internationally renowned Din Tai Fung arrived in the capital amidst a blaze of publicity, with the papers reporting that five hours queues were expected to form out of the doors. Once the restaurant actually opened though, reviews were lukewarm (that’s the problem with hype we guess). Nonetheless, Din Tai Fung’s dim sum is worth trying, particularly because the classic pork xiao long bao is a marvel of engineering, handmade on site and pleated 18 times.
Where: 5 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8PT
Best dim sum in the rest of London
A Wong, Pimlico
What: Widely believed to be one of London’s best Chinese restaurants, A. Wong is split across two floors: a relaxed ground-floor space which overlooks an open kitchen, and an opulent basement dining room. Evenings are all about tasting menus, but lunchtime is the moment to enjoy dim sum of the highest standard. Top shouts include the wild mushroom and truffle steamed bun, the crispy wonton with sweet chilli jam, and the quail egg croquette puff.
Where: 70 Wilton Road, SW1V 1DE
Shikumen, Shepherd’s Bush
What: The flagship Shikumen (there’s a second site in Aldgate) finds its home at the Dorsett Hotel. The dining room is spacious and stylish, well matched to the equally as fashionable menu of tea, cocktails, sake and handmade dim sum. Match your tipple with dishes such as a curry seafood puff, chicken taro croquettes and crab meat xiao long bao, before moving onto the more filling likes of hot soups, noodle dishes and fresh seafood.
Where: Dorsett Hotel, 58 Shepherd's Bush Green, W12 8QE
Min Jiang, Kensington
What: Found on the tenth floor of The Royal Garden Hotel, Min Jiang is home to awe-inspiring views of Hyde Park and also overlooks some of the capital’s glossiest skyscrapers. Here, dim sum options to try include deep-fried pineapple and prawn rolls, soft shell crab with garlic and chilli, and steamed xiao long bao with pork and Blue Swimmer crab. While you’re scoffing, don’t miss the wine list which is full of charming Old World options.
Where: Royal Garden Hotel, 2-24 Kensington High Street, W8 4PT
Hutong at The Shard, London Bridge
What: Found on Level 33 of The Shard, Hutong is the London flagship of the Hong Kong-based Aqua group. As well as those enviable views of the capital’s skyline, premier dim sum is the draw here. If you’re with a group, you can opt for one of the sizeable dim sum platters, while those on regular sized tables can chow down on the likes of minced lamb dumplings or Iberico pork ones with Sichuan garlic sauce.
Where: Level 33, The Shard, SE1 9RY
Imperial Treasure, Waterloo
What: Although virtually unknown in the UK, Imperial Treasure’s brand of high-end dim sum has already achieved international success, with its locations in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore all boasting Michelin stars. On these shores, you can visit to try out luxe dim sum such as the snow pork bun (essentially a savoury doughnut which balances salty and sweet perfectly). Once you’ve filled up on dim sum, move on to the Peking duck, which is carved tableside.
Where: 9-10 Waterloo Place, SW1Y 4BE
My Neighbours The Dumplings, Clapton
What: Having started out life as a pop up, My Neighbours The Dumplings now boasts two London locations, one in Clapton and the other in Victoria Park. Swapping out traditional dim sum for more adventurous varieties, the dumplings here are filled with the likes of potato and truffle or lamb and coriander. They are also very well made, while it’s refreshing to see a Chinese restaurant with plentiful vegetarian options too.
Where: 165 Lower Clapton Road, E5 8EQ
If you’re love of Chinese cuisine doesn’t stop at dim sum, take a look at our overall pick of the best Chinese restaurants in London.