Squaremeal has compiled this great guide to the best dim sum restaurants in London to help you enjoy the very best in dim sum in the capital. Dim sum is a very fashionable cuisine choice in London right now and many of London’s best Chinese restaurants are catching onto this.
Every one of the dim sum restaurants featured in Squaremeal’s list of London’s top dim sum restaurants have been tried and tested by food critics and our own customers so check out the reviews and book a table online with Squaremeal today. Each Squaremeal listing features an independent review, as well as reviews from diners, together with unique special offers such as free drinks and discounts. Find your dim sum restaurant in London today.
London flagship of the Hong Kong-based Aqua Group, this luxe eatery on Level 33 of The Shard is nigh on impossible beat for its beautiful interiors, glamorous vibes and “spectacular views”. Despite ‘hutong’ bringing to mind Beijing’s backstreets, the menu’s a sophisticated mix of Szechuan and Northern Chinese, with some “absolutely exquisite” Cantonese dim sum for good measure. Recent highlights have included Shandong shredded chicken (for stuffing into fluffy buns), boned lamb ribs (braised then stir-fried), and a plate of “soft, yielding and deeply savoury” braised beef in aged vinegar and ginger sauce. The full-on version of Peking duck is simply “fantastic”, and there’s also ma-po tofu, with a blend of chilli and Szechuan pepper giving it that distinctive numbing-hot effect known as ma-la. Spicing is considerably toned down from the full blast you’ll find in Chengdu, but that suits most of the suburban visitors and expense-account diners just fine. Prices are double what you’d pay in Chinatown, although readers are happy to shell out for such “phenomenal” food. “A real treat.”
Hutong at The Shard
It’s hard to talk about Min Jiang without mentioning the view: 10 floors up on the fringes of Hyde Park, it’s a mesmerising prospect. Now fast approaching its 10th birthday, this venue has become one of London’s slickest operators, a top-end Chinese decked out with mirrored panels, oriental screens and classical pottery, dealing in scrubbed-up but authentic Szechuan and Cantonese cuisine. The star of the show – and one of our guiltiest treats in the capital – is the Beijing duck, presented in three servings. No doctor is going to recommend the crispy skin dipped in fine sugar but, boy, is it good – likewise the traditional pancake wraps, lettuce parcels and alternatives such as salted vegetable soup with duck and tofu. Elsewhere, baskets of steamed dim sum are a beauty to behold, while rib-eye in a sticky black pepper sauce is sweet and soothing. To drink, put your trust in the sommelier’s pick from an Old World-leaning wine list.
Min Jiang at the Royal Garden Hotel
Putting on the style is second nature to this scintillating, seductive and downright intoxicating branch of the global Hakkasan chain – whether you’re flashing it in the pulsating nightclubby bar or playing it cool in the sleek ground-floor dining room. Either way, devotees of the house style are in heaven as they drool over “incredible east-meets-west platefuls” of steamed langoustines wrapped in glass vermicelli with chilli and garlic sauce, spicy lamb salad with peanut dressing (one of our favourites) or stir-fried Norfolk quail with winter chestnuts, basil and lemongrass – a dish that’s unique to Hakkasan Mayfair. “Divine dim sum” such as steamed har gau crowned with gold leaf, homemade pumpkin tofu or smoked beef ribs with jasmine tea crank up the thrill factor even further (especially at lunchtime), and the whole Michelin-starred shebang is fuelled by premium sakés, brilliantly chosen matching wines and ritzy cocktails (“unusual, but in a good way”). As you’d expect, staff are immaculately groomed – although they’re not here just for show (even if their attention sometimes wanders). Eating at Hakkasan Mayfair may be a wallet-emptying experience, but “you’ll feel like a billionaire for a few hours”.
"Perfect views of the Thames" are a given at this branch of the Royal China chain, which occupies a prime site facing a wide sweep of the river: with the Thames Ferry Pier next door, they've also put the terrace to good use. The group is famed for its tip-top, "extremely well-priced" dim sum, so be ready to work your way through exemplary steamed pork and radish dumplings, stuffed beancurd rolls, honey-roast pork puffs and a splendid rice pot of spicy chicken's feet and spare ribs. At teatime, the kitchen switches to a fancier menu of Hong Kong-style food, complete with helpful photographs. Cantonese classics such as crispy aromatic duck and lobster with ginger and spring onion line up alongside lemon chicken, stir-fried Dover sole with spicy salt or stewed pork belly with preserved cabbage. "Excellent service" makes the grade too.
Royal China - Westferry Circus
“Nothing changes, and that’s the point” at this flamboyantly decorated fixture of the local Chinese scene. Consistency is the watchword, and super-efficient service ensures customers get the best of a huge, 300-dish menu. Dim sum is the star at lunchtimes and weekends, when Chinese families and the Regent’s Park crowd roll in for exemplary renditions of, say, crispy lobster dumplings, briny pork croquettes, prawn cheung fun and nourishing congees. Otherwise, the full line-up runs from breaded scallops with mango sauce or shredded smoked chicken to braised duck with mushrooms or quick-fried squid with morning glory in shrimp paste. The cavernous dining room operates in its own little world, complete with carved screens, tassels and flashing illuminated gewgaws – you could get lost, or lose your companions in here. Still, “if you love the place, it’s probably like coming home”.
Following a full refurbishment in 2011, West London's premier dim-sum haunt is back with a bang. A gold-leaf ceiling and glossy black panelling overlaid with hand-painted Chinese art give the
large, windowless space an air of luxury, enhanced by an army of waiters who are keen to please. Queues can build for the aforementioned dim sum (served until 5pm), and the extensive menu features
the likes of prawn dumplings with coriander, fried crispy spring rolls and joyous roast-pork buns. Those heading along in the evening can expect a procession of greatest hits from sesame prawn
toasts to expertly handled Peking duck with pancakes, Cantonese honey-roasted pork, crispy shredded beef or whole steamed sea bass – all delivered with aplomb.
Royal China Queensway
Replete with swathes of red velvet, powder-blue armchairs, ostentatious trappings and nightly live music (often jazz), Park Chinois is an opulent take on a 1930s Shanghai speakeasy that is built for big-money special-occasion dining – complete with a Chinese menu designed around separate western-style courses and served by “impeccable” staff. Dim sum is a top shout at Park Chinois, and rightly so: we love the spicy intensity of the Szechuan vegetable dumplings, the oh-so-crispy duck spring rolls and the summer truffle bao buns. Order from the carte and you might be treated to braised short-ribs with black bean sauce, red prawns with coconut, okra and tamarind or a veggie claypot of aubergines and tofu – although big groups go for the roasted-to-order full-strength Peking duck served with pancakes, shredded cucumber and baby leeks. To finish, there are some unmissable westernised desserts – do try the vanilla cheesecake twinned with passion fruit and strawberry sorbet. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something sultry, head downstairs to the plush-yet-cosy Club Chinois, where the entertainment is a little more risqué.
IN 2019, MAYFAIR GARDEN WILL BE REPLACED BY CAPRICE CAFÉ
Launched in 1983, this glossy Chinese round the corner from Selfridges recently changed its name (from Princess Garden) and has had a swanky refit, with plate-glass windows, well-lit white interiors and wooden pillars adding a contemporary feel to the dining room. But despite its impressive appearance, “solidly reliable” Mayfair Garden isn’t as pricey as you might think: superior-quality dim sum is roughly on par with Soho Chinatown, and evening bills aren’t unduly high. Expect “judiciously spiced” renditions of familiar regional fare with the odd twist: crispy seafood rolls and soft-shell crab are faultless starters, Szechuan pork with green beans is a winner and the line-up also extends to steamed lobster with garlic, lemon chicken and ‘ma po’ beancurd. True to the traditional norm, service is “brisk rather than personal” – although staff cope admirably with a cosmopolitan mix of shoppers, American Embassy staff, off-duty suits and Chinese families.
“Wow, wow and wow!” exclaims a fan of Hakkasan, who reckons it’s definitely the “sexiest restaurant” he’s ever frequented. Certainly, there’s a “sultry charm” to this “sensual”, barely lit basement, with clubby VIP vibes, easy-on-the-eye staff and black-lacquered interiors making it “perfect for a hot date”. Kick off with Asian-inspired cocktails at the bar, then try definitive versions of takeaway classics and “impressive” ‘small eats’ such as jasmine tea-smoked ribs or “amazingly light” Shanghai dumplings boosted by chilli and vinegar. To follow, readers rave about the gigantic spicy prawns with asparagus, almonds, lily bulbs, spring onion and water chestnuts (“a riot of colourful tastes and textures”), but we’re hooked on the salt and pepper squid, the duck braised with truffle and the “riveting” crispy lamb salad with peanut dressing. No one escapes the top-end pricing, but readers agree that “you pay for what you get”. Multiple tasting menus can keep the bills in check, although the ambitious wine list might push them back up again. Either way, it’s “absolutely outstanding”.
Hakkasan Hanway Place
“Vibrant, buzzing, yet elegant” sums up the mood at Duck and Rice, where Pilsner Urquell drinkers rub shoulders with Chinese food fans and the high-spec design features gleaming beer tanks, open fires and Chinese-style blue-and-white ceramic panels. The upstairs dining room is calmer than the ground-floor pub, although both serve the same muddled one-page menu of dim sum, chow mein, chop suey, crispy duck and various bites. If you’re feeling adventurous, order the fiery Szechuan chicken or the melting jasmine-smoked pork ribs. However, D&R’s more traditional dishes are barely above the bog-standard Chinatown norm, making much of the menu seem overpriced – order wisely from the capable staff to ensure the best outcome. Ale-based cocktails (Beer Negroni, anyone?) are joined by “amazing Gin Mares” and a big selection of French-led wines, while weekends are for dim-sum brunching. Finally, an events programme including bingo nights and drag-queen quizzes is exactly what the area needs.
The Duck and Rice
“Still incredible after all these years”, ultra-cool Yauatcha Soho stakes its claim with “smart, snappy decor” and an inviting patisserie bar out front. The trademark blue-glass frontage gives way to a frenetic grey-toned room, while a glowing fish tank, candlelit tables and twinkling “night sky” lights await diners who descend to the “stunning” brick-lined basement. Wherever you sit, expect ultra-professional service, but with lots of winning smiles. The comprehensive menu is populated by “steamed to perfection” dumplings (try the edamame and truffle beauties) and other luxe Chinese ideas such as jasmine tea-smoked ribs and venison puffs – described by one salivating fan as “the sweetest, most crumbly piece of heaven”. Elsewhere, bigger items ranging from spicy steamed sea bass with pickled chilli or ‘lunar’ chicken hotpot with cured pork to homemade spinach tofu with shimejii mushrooms and baby asparagus are also in demand. “Spectacular-looking” chocolates, macarons and petits gateaux such as a ‘tropical’ dome of coconut dacquoise, passion fruit and pineapple get rave reviews, while a swanky line-up of classy wines, teas, sakés and killer cocktails completes Yauatcha Soho’s winning Michelin-starred package.
Basement dining rooms must work hard to get noticed, and China Tang works harder than most in that department: down in the lower regions of The Dorchester, no inch of the restaurant goes unembellished. The inspiration is interbellum Shanghai, and while the dark wood and elaborate carpets aren’t looking box-fresh, it’s certainly an atmospheric way to kit out a dining space. China Tang’s food is straight-down-the-middle Cantonese, handled with care and served with a level of ceremony that suits the luxe hotel surroundings. To start, try delicate tomato and egg-drop soup, followed by golden prawns with salted egg yolk, stir-fried minced pigeon in lettuce wraps or, for a bit of fire and fragrance, fish braised with Szechuan peppercorns. Tang’s international clientele believe there’s no bad time for dim sum, so expect Shanghai dumplings, mango rolls, turnip cakes and roast pork buns right through the day. In the bar, cocktails are more fashion-forward than the food.
China Tang at The Dorchester Hotel
Located in a strange, transient part of Pimlico, Chinese big-hitter A Wong is an eye-opener for those used to provincial versions of the genre. Done out with blonde bentwood chairs and tables, it looks more Ikea café than Asian destination, and there’s plenty of bustle too. That said, there’s expertise and precision in the kitchen, along with a menu of regional specialities that begs to be explored. Dim sum rule at lunchtime; some items such as Chinese chive pot stickers are reasonably familiar, but we’re sold on the more esoteric stuff – both the rabbit and carrot glutinous puffs and the steamed-rice rolls stuffed with gai lan and poached yolk deserve to be tried. In the evening, you could settle for gong bau chicken with peanuts and Szechuan aubergine, although Cantonese honey-roast pork with wind-dried sausage and grated foie gras or Yunnan wild mushroom, truffle and red date casserole are hard to ignore. Tables turn quickly and there’s occasionally space at the kitchen bar.
Aiming to emulate the Shanghai original, this huge, high-gloss outpost of the Bright Courtyard Club comes complete with some lovely porcelain pieces, tea sets for sale, huge chunks of polished wood, screens and stools, plus an atrium for for dim sum. Naturally, much of the cooking has a Shanghai-style slant (dumplings, marinated tofu, smoked fish etc), and the menu has lots of luxe touches including Madagascan jumbo prawns with black truffle dressing; otherwise, expect intriguing ideas such as edamame with zhouzhuang pickles, braised sea cucumber in abalone sauce, dry-fried lobster with egg yolk or pork belly with ‘grandmum’s recipe’. Sadly the food is reckoned to be “OK, at best”, with long waits and “rude” service ruining it for one couple. Drinks-wise, a wine wall suggests an interest in the subject, but tea is also taken seriously.
Bright Courtyard Club
This flagship branch of the Royal China chain might have doubled in size thanks to a four-month renovation in the summer of 2018 but compared to its huge siblings, it still feels intimate; instead of one large dining room, the restaurant is split into two, while five new private dining rooms benefit from natural light. The new look is slick without being intimidatingly stylish: gold leaf on the ceiling, red lacquer on the wall and enough black leather seating to make the restaurant smell like a luxury stand at the Beijing Motor Show.
While rivals in this price bracket might concentrate on innovating regional Chinese cuisine, Royal China Club’s approach is to stick to the classics, but using premium ingredients: fresh abalone tossed with caviar, pan-fried scallop with foie gras, or a grilled Wagyu fillet in teriyaki sauce.
If the size of the bill isn’t a concern, you will eat very well here, although more budget-minded diners may not feel that the high prices are worth paying for dishes that are not dissimilar to the Baker Street Royal China a few doors down: £22.80 for a basket of eight seafood dim sum struck us as very steep, no matter how well made the contents.
Elsewhere, soft-shell crab with salt and peppercorn was well timed and well spiced, Szechuan king prawns had noticeably fresh seafood in a well-balanced sauce (though purists may wish for more chilli heat); while roasted crispy Iberian pork belly was a faultless version of a classic dish.
Staff are delightful, and even early in the week, there is a loyal market of regulars happy to pay Royal China Club’s prices for a comfortingly reassuring dining experience. If price is a concern, daytime dim sum offers a relatively more affordable way in.
Royal China Club
Pearl Liang is not your normal Chinese drop-in. Firstly, there’s the room – a subterranean space that makes up for its lack of natural light with sexy purple upholstery and snazzy flower-blossom
designs. Then there’s the ‘sublime’ cooking, which goes the extra mile for authenticity as it romps through the Chinese regional repertoire, taking in everything from excellent crispy duck with
homemade pancakes to sweet-and-sour chicken jazzed up with pomegranate. Premium seafood also abounds – from steamed razor clams and scallops stuffed with crabmeat to a hatful of turbot specialities
– and the kitchen is happy to go walkabout for the likes of lobster sashimi. The lengthy line-up of dim sum is a lunchtime crowd-puller (think prawn and radish dumplings, chicken’s feet, fried
octopus cakes and BBQ pork puffs), and there are some classic cocktails for a post-work refresher.