When we found out that Monday 8 February signalled the beginning of The Chinese Year of the Monkey, we immediately began brainstorming the best monkey dim sum menus in town. Turns out there are no Chinese restaurants in London serving monkey (cue: much head-scratching to think of an alternative article angle). We’ve reluctantly gone with plan B and picked 10 of the best Chinese restaurants in London, so you can ring in China’s lunisolar Spring Festival with a full stomach.
We’ve also helpfully split our selection between banquet and budget, just in case your red envelope is a sad and floppy one…
Bright Courtyard Club, Marylebone
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 dim sum.
Grand Imperial, Belgravia
Imperial by name and imperial by nature, this swanky Chinese at Victoria station’s Grosvenor Hotel has been regally decked out according to the principles of feng shui (think Victorian coved ceilings meet ornate calligraphy screens).
Hakkasan, Fitzrovia and Mayfair (above)
Hakksan are laying on a set Chinese New Year menu (£88) until 22 February, including a dim sum platter and lobster in a spicy truffle sauce. Not happy until you’ve seen a Chinese lion dance? Then book into Hakkasan Hanway Place on 11 February or Hakkasan Mayfair the following day for a whole flipping troupe prancing through the dining room, flinging good luck and (fingers crossed) bits of dim sum in every direction. There’ll also be celebratory menus at Yauatcha and HKK, so there’s no excuse not to visit at least one.
Mr Chow, Knightsbridge
The sexy monotone interiors, marble floors, chrome lampshades and handsome Josef Hoffmann chairs have hardly changed since day one. Dickie-bowed waiters still manage to get it mostly right, and the sight of glistening roast ducks being paraded through the restaurant is something to behold.
Park Chinois, Mayfair (below)
Alan Yau returns to high-end Chinese for the first time since launching Hakkasan and Yauatcha in the early noughties. It’s undeniably expensive (figure on £100 a head if you eat and drink carefully), but no one could say this is poor value given such opulence: where else can you wash your hands with water dispensed from a gold-plated duck beak?
A. Wong, Pimlico
A well-priced, tightly run and inventive Chinese restaurant deep in tourist-thronged Victoria, flawless A Wong is a real boon. It’s casual, busy and fast, so perch at the bar or bag a table on the ground floor for everything from street food to haute cuisine.
Baozi Inn, Soho
Baozi Inn’s blissful food and low prices means it’s always busy with punters clamouring for a quick, fiery bite. Flavoursome treats include appetite-whetting crescent-shaped cheng du dumplings doused in chilli oil, or the house special of spicy beef noodles.
Imperial City, City (above)
Richly patterned black-and-gold wallpaper flanks the stairs from the inconspicuous entrance of this plush underground gem”on Cornhill. Classic dim sum is always a good shout, but the kitchen raids other culinary traditions for “surprisingly good” dishes such as crisp wasabi prawns or Nonya-style sea bass wrapped in a banana leaf.
Phoenix Palace, Marylebone
“Nothing changes, and that’s the point” say readers of this flamboyantly decorated fixture on the local Chinese scene. Consistency is the watchword, and super-efficient service ensures customers get the best of a huge, 300-dish menu.
Princess Garden, Marylebone
This glossy Chinese round the corner from Selfridges 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 – don’t miss the Szechuan pork with green beans.
There’ll also be a lot of monkeying around in Chinatown for the next few weeks too, so don’t forget to update yourself on the best Chinese restaurants in Chinatown
This article was published 2 February 2016