Chinese New Year in London just happens to traditionally be the biggest celebration of the Lunar New Year outside of Asia, so we’re pretty confident in saying this isn’t one to miss if you love all the pomp and majesty that goes along with such national celebrations.
2022 brings with it the Year of the Tiger, which is revered as a symbol of royalty in China. In line with traditional thinking, those born during the Year of the Tiger will be blessed with a fierceness as well as courage and energy. Interestingly 'Tigers' also prefer to give orders rather than recieve them, and can be short tempered.
Aside from the fascinating folklore that surrounds Chinese New Year in London, there are also typically plenty of events, restaurant deals and entertaining acts to seek out. Chinatown is usually the focus of the celebrations, with most restaurants likely to be marking Chinese New Year on Tuesday 1 February itself this year, paying homage to the beginning of the Year of the Tiger. In normal years Chinatown is also a great place to see the parade as it prances by in a colourful blur of snaking bodies under dramatic swathes of fabric. According to the Chinese zodiac, this year’s lucky colours are mint green and bright blue as well as regal yellows and reds, the lucky months are May and June, while lucky numbers are one, three and four. Despite all this, for team SquareMeal, we think you make your own luck and getting lucky comes in the form of making a booking nice and early to secure yourself a table at one of our favourite Chinese dining spots.
This year it's a little tricky to predict what the future will hold, but all going well we've rounded up the places where we'd love to bag a table come February first. Lots of restaurants run their Chinese New Year specials for a week or so before too, so you could try a couple from the list if you're feeling like you might be capable of getting through a few different feasts.
Chinese New Year parade London 2022
Every year vibrant colours adorn Chinatown in a spectacle of such scale that nowhere else outside of Asia can beat it. If restrictions allow everything to go ahead as normal this year then you can expect all the regalia that goes with Chinese New Year in London, from the beautiful red and gold hanging lanterns to the special craft and food stalls that pop up throughout the city’s Chinese quarter. This year, as with every year, we expect hordes of people will be set to witness the lion and dragon dances as they make their way through Chinatown, stopping by restaurants to wish the owners good luck. Once everything has been confirmed make sure to get in early to bag a good spot, as the streets quickly get busy come procession day. There are usually regular performances passing by throughout the day, so don’t be disheartened if you only see the tail end (if you’ll pardon the pun) of one as there should be another one along shortly. Timings have yet to be confirmed for the official celebrations, but as soon as we know more we'll update you here.
Chinese New Year Trafalgar Square celebrations 2022
The date of the official Chinese New Year celebrations in London for 2022 are yet to be confirmed but usually they're held on the weekend nearest the New Year date. This party - which is usually hosted from Trafalgar Square each year - is legendary, with full stages setup for traditional performances. There are typically additional supporting performances on stages on Shaftsbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road. Expect shows screened on huge televisions, with things to see likely to include a thanksgiving ceremony, firecrackers, speeches and the traditional lions’ eye-dotting ceremony. All going to plan and there will of course be the impressive dragon and lion flying dances alongside performances of Chinese dance, music and martial arts displays that will show off the prowess of artists from both London and China if travel restrictions ease. For those who like a hands-on approach there are also usually workshops and activities as well as a family zone. The most important aspect though is of course the food and in former years there have been stalls and stands aplenty to choose from, or scroll down below to take your pick from our selection of the best Chinese New Year restaurants in London. The events in Trafalgar Square and around the West End are usually free and unticketed, so expect large crowds if they go ahead in 2022.
The best Chinese New Year restaurants in London
Okay, the parade is all well and good, but can you eat it? We hope the answer is no. To satisfy the inevitable Chinese food cravings that will hit you come the start of february 2022, we’ve rounded up our favourite Chinese New Year restaurants in London. They’re a mix of high end spots and cheap and cheerful Chinese restaurants, so that there should be something for every occasion, whether you’re looking to impress a special someone or just want a quick bite to eat with the whole family.
Why: With a sky-high position on the 33rd level of The Shard, dinner views don’t get much better than Hutong. Sifu (master) Fei Wang has crafted a spectacular five-course 'Year of the Tiger' menu, available on 1 February. Highlights include Lo Hei (meaning 'mix it up') salad, scallop and prawn wonton with hot and sour soup and Hutong's signature roasted Peking duck with homemade pancakes and Hoisin sauce. Lion dancers and an authentic Chinese calligrapher will perform throughout and the Shanghai bar will be offering a festive Year of the Tiger cocktail, made with Don Julio Blanco, nigori sake, mandarin puree, lime juice and pepper honey. The cocktail will be available from 31 January to 15 February.
Where: 33, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London, SE1 9RY
How much: £125pp, £17 for the 'Year of the Tiger' cocktail
Book now: Hutong at The Shard
Kicking things off with a signature cocktail (or mocktail, if you’re so inclined), TING's Chinese New Year special menu includes three courses of indulgent Chinese cookery. Aromatic duck spring rolls come accompanied by a sweet chilli dressing and green onion salad for starter while mains are a choice of chicken and abalone fried rice with XO sauce or prawn Shanghai noodles. Sweets include a chocolate and miso bar as well as a pineapple and raspberry dome. If guests prefer, there’s still the choice of all the usual TING favourites from the full menu, with the specials running between the 1-10 February.
Where: Shangri-La Hotel, 31 St Thomas Street, Southwark, London, SE1 9QU
How much: £38 per main special
Book now: TING
Why: Two Michelin starred A. Wong in Pimlico is one of the best places in London to celebrate Chinese New Year (if you can get a table, that is). Paying homage to the Imperial Banquets of the Qing Dynasty, the five-course menu has been designed to share between guests as collections. Dishes include seared black lamb with chilli and peanuts; cherry smoked ‘memories’ of Peking duck with plum and caviar; and cod cheek with fermented chilli and scalded Chinese chives. Available from the 1 February, the menu takes around two and a half hours to enjoy, with a minimum of two guests required.
Where: 70 Wilton Road, London, SW1V 1DE
How much: £135 per person for five courses of sharing dishes
Book now: A. Wong
China Tang at The Dorchester
Why: This fine-dining Chinese restaurant boasts dramatic, deco-style interiors, sharp service and peerless celeb-spotting opportunities – even supermodel Kate Moss is a fan. Our pick of the menu? The Peking duck is a perennially popular choice for habitués of the restaurant. When it comes to the buzzy vibe, things are dialled up another notch come Chinese New Year, when the restaurant is typically transformed by its resident florist into a spectacular scene of spring blossoms and red lanterns. Those dining around Chinese New Year are usually treated to a multi-course menu (although the regular menus are also available if guests prefer) as well as a live lion dance. Guests are required to pre-book, and special menus are also usually available in the restaurant’s private dining rooms.
Where: 53 Park Lane, London, W1K 1QA
How much: Menu TBC for 2022
Book now: China Tang at The Dorchester
Why: If you’re unable to celebrate Chinese New Year on the evening itself, but don’t want to miss out on all the fun you may be pleased to hear that Park Chinois’ special menus usually run for a good couple of weeks. Surrounded by the restaurant’s plush 1930’s style interiors, you’ll probably be treated to a parade from live lion dancers as well as an atmospheric show of Chinese drummers. The menu last year featured a selection of the brand’s famous dumplings as well as a host of main dishes and specially created cocktails.
Where: 17 Berkeley Street, London, W1J 8EA
How much: Menu TBC for 2022
Book now: Park Chinois
Why: If you want to celebrate Lunar New Year with the fragrance of Vietnamese food rather than the more widely touted Chinese food, Chinatown in London holds the answer. Viet Food headed up by Chef Proprietor Jeff Tan specialises in the vibrant street food of Vietnam. Between the 24 January and the 15 February the restaurant will be serving special celebratory dishes and cocktails. Drinks include the Xinnián Kuàilè (meaning Happy New Year) which is made up of lemon vodka, maraschino, Cointreau, pineapple juice and lime, while mains are giant prawns with crispy garlic and grilled sea bass with a tamarind sauce.
Where: 34-36 Wardour Street, London, W1D 6QT
How much: Regular menu prices
Book now: Viet Food
Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour
Why: Found in one of Chinatown’s iconic townhouses, Opium is inspired by the drinking dens of 1920’s Shanghai. Special Chinese New Year packages here start at £50 per person and include both cocktails and dim sum (the perfect pairing in our opinion). Diners will also receive an egg custard tart for dessert as well as a lucky red envelope to bring them good fortune in the year ahead. Available upgrades include adding Champagne to your package or booking into a cocktail making class.
Where: 15-16 Gerrard Street, London, W1D 6JE
How much: Special menus from £50 per person
Book now: Opium Cocktail and Dim Sum Parlour
Mimi Mei Fair
Why: One of our favourite new restaurants for 2022, Mimi Mei Fair is an extravagant multi-story restaurant in Mayfair where rooms are intricately decorated with hand painted silk walls and chandeliers. Between 24 January and 15 February the team here are offering a special menu which starts with a ‘basket of wealth’ – a duo of dumplings that are thought to bring good fortune. The main event is a whole wok-baked lobster which is served in a rich umami broth. A punchy rum baba concludes the feast, a moment where diners will be invited to write down their wishes for the next 365 days and hang them on the wishing tree installation designed by luxury florist, Lucy Vail.
Where: 55 Curzon Street, London, W1J 8PG
How much: £98 per person
Book now: Mimi Mei Fair
Why: Bringing in the new lunar year with an appropriate level of ceremony is Straits Kitchen at Pan Pacific. The menu has been designed to showcase some of the the most iconic Chinese dishes, kicking off with a Yu Shang salad which guests are encouraged to toss themselves in a traditiona that is meant to bestow good luck upon diners – the higher the toss the better. Mains include luxurious ingredients like lobster, turbot and duck while desserts include a mandarin orange mousse and a black sesame ice cream. If you fancy toasting the emergence of the Tiger’s year then there’s also a Yin-Yang cocktail pairing which you can add to your evening. Our favourite is the Lucky Tiger (£16), with mango and strawberry tea infused gin, sake, mango and strawberry tea, ginger syrup, Chambord, lemon juice and egg white.
Where: 80 Houndsditch, London, EC3A 7AB
How much: £138 per person
Book now: Straits Kitchen
Why: The Bao dynasty is one that never missed the opportunity to mark a special occasion in a creative, playful way, and according to co-founder Erchen Chang, in Taiwan eating bao is considered good luck over Lunar New Year. This New Year the various Bao restaurants will be putting on special menus, treating guests to one-off dishes and new delights. One such creation is the Tiger Claw BBG, filled with molten chocolate and decorated with black and orange stripes. Also, between 28 January – 13 February any guests who order the classic or daikon bao from any of the restaurants will be gifted traditional red envelopes which have been filled with prizes. One lucky person across the two weeks will win a whole year of free bao and the very first ‘A BAO a Day’ metal pass
Where: Bao has branches in Soho, Fitzrovia, Borough, Shoreditch and King's Cross
How much: Various prices
Book now: Bao
Why: Offering both tasting and a la carte special menus for Lunar New Year, Mei Ume combines celebratory dishes with magical surrounds. The entrance to the restaurant is set to be decorated with a sea of red origami lanterns made by paper florist Karen Hsu from Pom Pom Factory, an installationi to set the scene for an evening of merrymaking. The tasting menu begins with a traditional Prosperity Toss Salad which combines salmon, tuna, seabass and yellowtail on a bed of dressed crispy daikon radish, pickled spring onions, seaweed and ginger. Guests are encouraged to toss the ingredients high up into the air to bring good fotune to their lives. Indulgent mains of XO sauteed Dover sole and soy marinated chicken form the centrepiece of the feast while dessert is sweet red bean soup with sticky sesame dumplings and Chinese New Year cakes. For something extra special, why not hire the 12-seater private dining room for your very own party?
Where: 10 Trinity Square, London, EC3N 4AJ
How much: £168 per person
Book now: Mei Ume
Why: For high end fine dining it doesn’t come much better than a meal at globally renowned restaurant Hakkasan. Conceived by Christian Liaigre, Hakkasan hits the spot every time with its Michelin-starred menu. Clever signature dishes include golden soft-shell crab with punchy red chilli and roasted silver cod with Champagne and honey - the food here is about all out decadence. With just a ten-minute stroll to the heart of Chinatown from the front door, why not dine here before or after taking in the wonders of the parade? To honour the year of the Tiger the team has come up with a menu that symbolises good luck and happiness. Treats include salt crust fortune baked chicken with chestnut, shiitake mushroom and bamboo shoot, plus wok-fried wild sea bass with enoki mushrooms and spicy sesame soy. The clever dessert is a golden striped orange and dark chocolate firecracker, and there are special cocktails on offer too. While the restaurant will be decorated, the team will also be given a little bit of a makeover courtesy of Celebrity Stylist Bay Garnett who will dress everyone in vintage tiger-inspired pieces which will then be auctioned for charity following the celebrations.
Where: 8 Hanway Place, London, W1T 1HD
How much: £118 per person
Book now: Hakkasan
Why: Dumpling fans rejoice, dim sum tea house Yauatcha is putting on a show for Lunar New Year and it’s not one to miss. Priced at £60 per person, the menu will be a creative take on traditional dishes. Think dim sum, smoked duck, crab meat pineapple fried rice, and Szechuan-style rib eye beef with pan-seared green chilli pepper. Dessert is a Lucky Ingot – a mandarin and ginger flavoured dessert bedecked with tiger stripes and topped with edible gold coins. The special menu also includes a welcome cocktail, and the restaurants will be decorated with tiger tails and paws hanging from a jungle-inspired ceiling.
Where: Yauatcha has sites in Soho and The City
How much: £60 per person`
Book now: Yauatcha
The Duck and Rice
Why: The Duck and Rice is a Chinese restaurant housed in a former Soho pub. This lively history results in an equally as lively restaurant, with the brand celebrating every festival and holiday they can get their hands on with gay abandon. Chinese New Year – as might be expected – is the biggest date in the team’s diary. In previous years The Duck and Rice has even hosted its own lion dances. The performers usually make their way through the bar downstairs and the restaurant upstairs before spilling out onto the market outside to give the public a slice of the action. Special Chinese New Year dishes have previously included XO sauce stir-fried turnip cakes and drunken lobster, while unique set menus typically offer various combinations of the restaurant’s classics for between £40-60 per person.
Where: 90 Berwick Street, London, W1F 0QB
How much: Menu TBC for 2022
Book now: The Duck and Rice
Why: Praised equally highly for its excellent food and stunning views, this Kensington gem, whose chic, modern decor is shot through with flashes of pillar-box red, is a safe bet for a special evening. The restaurant’s signature dish - legendary wood-fired Beijing duck - is a real talking point and is usually available to be proudly presented as part of the Chinese New Year menu (for a supplement). In years gone by there has been an eight-course menu, which includes dishes such as four treasure soup, braised five spiced soy and chicken and pan-fried nien gao with sweet coconut glutinous rice. If there's a similar one available in 2022 then we'd expect it to be only available for just a couple of special sittings - so pre-booking is highly recommended.
Where: 2-24 Kensington High Street, London, W8 4PT
How Much: Menu TBC for 2022
Book now: Min Jiang
What: This strikingly old school Chinese restaurant has become somewhat of an institution over the years. Usually on Chinese New Year Mr Chow will serve its renowned Mr Chow Noodles – noodles traditionally represent long life in Chinese culture – and dumplings, which are said to symbolise wealth (a dumpling's shape is similar to that of ancient gold and silver) alongside classics like crispy beef and sticky glazed prawns. Guests can also typically enjoy a 'noodle pulling' demonstration, but make sure to call ahead if you’re mainly in it for the theatrics, as times and performances are subject to change.
Where: 151 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7PA
How much: Menu TBC for 2022
Book now: Mr Chow
Royal China Club
Why: A modern Mecca for fans of Chinese food, this Marylebone stalwart offers classic Chinese dishes and elegantly presented dim sum, plus an admirable selection of fine wines. This February the restaurant is sure to develop a special feasting menu to showcase all its signature serves, as well as some more unusual dishes. Guests last year were treated to lion dances as well as each table receiving a red envelope filled with prizes. On unveiling the red envelope guests were in with the chance of winnings things like Champagne, wine and vouchers to spend at the restaurant.
Where: 40-42 Baker Street, London, W1U 7AJ
How much: Menu TBC for 2022
Book now: Royal China Club
Why: Taking things a little out of the main drag of Chinese New Year Celebrations, why not visit one of South London’s most unpretentious places for good, solid Chinese cooking? We’re talking about Mamalan. With sites in both Brixton and Clapham, these cosy dining rooms offer serenity from the frenetic environs of their neighbourhoods. The kitchen is a dab hand at classic dumplings, but also ventures into more adventurous territory with plates of wasabi prawn bao or wonton noodle soup. While there may not be a lion dance here, you are guaranteed a good time thanks to the laid-back and friendly service. Plus, it won’t put too much of a dent in your pocket when it comes time to pay.
Where: 8 The Pavement, London, SW4 0HY
How much: You can dine handsomely for under £30 per person at Mama Lan.
Book now: Mamalan
Chinese New Year afternoon tea 2022
Let it not be said that any holiday passed without a three-tiered extravaganza of treats prepared in its name. Chinese New Year is no different, with hotels usually stepping up to the mark to provide where others have yet to venture. Expect all the usual favourites, with a Chinese twist. We’ll add more to this section if additional places offer up a Chinese New Year afternoon tea before the big day itself; Fortnum’s did last year, so fingers crossed.
Afternoon Tea by Cherish Finden in The Orchid Lounge
Why: We’re of the opinion that more is more when it comes to celebrations. Alongside booking into one of London’s best Chinese restaurants, why not treat yourself to an afternoon tea spread in honour of the Year of the Tiger. The Orchid Lounge at Pan Pacific has been decked out with glamorous interiors, and for CNY guests will find a special afternoon tea menu packed with tempting bites packaged into a Prosperity Box designed by head chef (and Bake Off Creme de la Crème judge) Cherish Finden. Inside you’ll find a mandarin orange, with mandarin orange mousse, marmalade and tiger sponge, and a sesame teapot, with black sesame, yuzu, and cheesecake. Elsewhere there’s a firecracker, with pandan, mango and kalamansi and, coconut dacquoise; as well as a chocolate purse, with 67% guanaco, gula malaka sponge, and lime namalaka. Prefer something savoury? There’s also the option to indulge in plates of things like crispy seafood bean curd rolls and crispy prawn dumplings. Each guest will also be gifted a wishing card which they can fill out and tie onto the hotel’s honourable Bonsai Tree for good fortune during the year. Throughout January and February cards will routinely be chosen to win prizes from hotel stays through to free afternoon teas.
Where: 80 Houndsditch, London, EC3A 7AB
How much: £72 per person
Book now: The Orchid Lounge
Going to the parades? You might need our guide to the best restaurants in Chinatown then…