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The best Chinese in Chinatown


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We're meeting some friends of ours on Saturday night who are insisting that we go for a meal in Chinatown (in London that is, as opposed to Manchester or elsewhere). It's been several years since I've done this so I'm slightly out of touch with what is considered good these days. We used to visit Harbour City but I have no idea if they've managed to retain their reputation. My memories of Chinatown are not always that fond so I'm in need of some updated advice.

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Well, much against my better judgement I braved Chinatown on Saturday night. My concerns about quality were not unfounded - in fact the food at my old standby from years ago, Harbour City was even worse than I remembered. After leaving, I wondered if I was going to see in the dawn from a position on my bathroom floor. Gratefully this didn't happen.

I still wonder if there is a good Chinese meal to be had in Chinatown that isn't wrapped in batter and redolent with vinegar.

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The semiofficial Chinatown thread provides a decent summary of the options and their limitations. Generally though, complaining about shoddy quality on Saturday night in Chinatown is like complaining that the drinks in Stringfellows are overpriced. It just goes with the territory.

I tend to rely on the Golden/Royal Dragon. It has the benefit of being consistently average, and appears to have been on best behaviour since its run-in with the health inspectors a year ago.

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I find the chinese food in chinatown to be pretty dire. That being said, there are certain places with certain dishes that are quite good. I had a roast duck the other night at New China and was actually EXCELLENT. The duck was very flavourful and the meat was fresh. The rest of the meal was mediocre, but the duck, at 7.80 for a whole bird, was a great deal and very delicious.

My friends and I (all from HK) often goto Cafe TPT or Cafe De Hong Kong (Charing Cross Road) for cheap HK style food. Cafe De Hong Kong has a reasonably good Beef Brisket Curry, and TPT has good noodle dishes.

Usually, i dont bother with 'higher' end chinese in London b/c franky, I'll be disappointed.

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Superstar or Joy King Lau are probably the best two there at the moment.

Superstar are very good for sea food

also recommended are pe pai duck, steam razor clam, the barbeuce skate, the frog legs.

Joy King Lau seem to specialise in poultry the nam yu roast chickens is good so is the peking duck and their supreme seafood hotpot is good too.

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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I like Super Star too (took sister in law and 10 friends there for her 30th birthday and had an excellent meal) but I think the food is better at a new place, Hong Kong Diner, on Wardour St.

Various Chinese friends have recommended it and I have to say I was very impressed by the food, especially the deep fried aubergine. It is good value too. I would try not to get stuck in the basement as it lacks atmosphere. If you want atmosphere above food (and want to be able to sit around after the meal without being hassled to vacate youir table), go to Super Star.

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  • 9 months later...

Recent Chinatown experiences:

- Bar Shu (sichuan) is slightly different (but pricy)

- Chinese Experience is reliable (but a bit sparse)

- Four Seasons (new branch in chinatown) is sposed to be good for duck, but I thought it was so-so when I went. The crispy belly pork is to die for tho, esp if you takeaway and have it the next day.

- C&R just along the way is dead cheap and authentically malaysian. Takeaway nasi lemak from their kiosk opposite also worthwhile.

To be honest my most promising recent chinese experiences have been two stops along at Shanghai Blues for their lunchtime dim sum. Its really good.

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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To be honest my most promising recent chinese experiences have been two stops along at Shanghai Blues for their lunchtime dim sum. Its really good.

J

Has it improved since it opened a couple of years ago? Two early visits were marred by astonishingly slow service and I haven't been back...

The dim sum has definitely picked up its act in the last 18 months or so. It's now some of the best in London. Notable also for the vegetarian selection.

Evening food I don't know - never go as it looks wildly overpriced for what you get.

Annoyingly, they still charge an arm and a leg for tea, and claim not to serve tap water (they finally relented when I picked up the tumblers on the table and headed off to the loo to help myself).

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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Annoyingly, they still charge an arm and a leg for tea, and claim not to serve tap water (they finally relented when I picked up the tumblers on the table and headed off to the loo to help myself).

that is extremely cheeky - I was saying to an American friend just the other day that you can always get tap water in London restaurants.

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Annoyingly, they still charge an arm and a leg for tea, and claim not to serve tap water (they finally relented when I picked up the tumblers on the table and headed off to the loo to help myself).

that is extremely cheeky - I was saying to an American friend just the other day that you can always get tap water in London restaurants.

It's actually a condition of a lot of premises' licences, so if you feel strongly enough about it (and I think one should) then it would be worth contacting Camden Council and checking.

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Recently well received in The Independent (and Time Out, meh...), I chanced a visit to Haozhan last week. It’s a very pleasant experience, with the single proviso that you have to order well. The home made tofu is essential. An utter revelation, although quite hellish to manipulate off the serving dish with a pair of chopsticks. I can see why they don’t bother with tablecloths.

The silver cod in honey and champagne was excellent. The ribs perfect.

The dishes you’d find elsewhere in Chinatown were unspecial, but it was a room full of happy people eating and enjoying. I’m looking forward to going back.

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Recently well received in The Independent (and Time Out, meh...), I chanced a visit to Haozhan last week. It’s a very pleasant experience, with the single proviso that you have to order well. The home made tofu is essential. An utter revelation, although quite hellish to manipulate off the serving dish with a pair of chopsticks. I can see why they don’t bother with tablecloths.

The silver cod in honey and champagne was excellent. The ribs perfect.

The dishes you’d find elsewhere in Chinatown were unspecial, but it was a room full of happy people eating and enjoying. I’m looking forward to going back.

I think the chef there is ex-hakkasan

I've been meaning to give it a try.

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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Annoyingly, they still charge an arm and a leg for tea, and claim not to serve tap water (they finally relented when I picked up the tumblers on the table and headed off to the loo to help myself).

that is extremely cheeky - I was saying to an American friend just the other day that you can always get tap water in London restaurants.

It's actually a condition of a lot of premises' licences, so if you feel strongly enough about it (and I think one should) then it would be worth contacting Camden Council and checking.

I remember once threatening to flush the toilet twelve times if they refused to serve me a glass of tap water. They eventually gave in.

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I used to be a big fan of Harbour City but I think the standards have slipped badly. If I have to eat in Chinatown then I would recommend HK Diner on Wardour St. I was taken there by Chinese friends and it is definitely a different class to most of its local rivals. I would particularly recommend the deep fried aubergines, the long beans with chilli and garlic and the Chinese chives with shrimp (might not be on the menu but they have Chinese chives - which are hard to find in London in my experience - and will cook them as requested).

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  • 6 months later...

I thought I'd give this a bump and see if anyone had had any recent experiences, good or bad. Is Haozhan as good as initial reports suggested? Has anyone tried the new(ish) Sichuan on Charing Cross Road, Red and Hot? I habitually go to New Mayflower on Shaftesbury Avenue but the last few visits have been disappointing.

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I know this is not china town

but someone mentioned sichaun.

I went here last week

Gourmet San, 261 Bethnal Green Road, E2

heres someone review.

http://www.deadinsect.co.uk/2007/09/gourme...green-road.html

this place is really good.

we had 8 lamb skewers, covered in chilli and cumin and very well grilled.

chilli chicken, chilli pork, cooling cucumber, fried beans minced pork, spicy crab which was huge for the price and rice.

total per head was just £11.

Very authentic, everyone eating in there seemed to be young mainland chinese.

Waitress have very little english and menu is all in chinese too.

Place is more cafe then restaurant.

Looked very popular judging by the number of people willing to wait for a table.

Only bummer is it is out in bethnal green and quite a walk from the station.

Having a chinese reader and speaker would help a lot in ordering here.

Out of my all group this place rated well above Angeles and Bar shu.

so give it a try if you ever in the area

"so tell me how do you bone a chicken?"

"tastes so good makes you want to slap your mamma!!"

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I know this is not china town

but someone mentioned sichaun.

I went here last week 

Gourmet San, 261 Bethnal Green Road, E2

heres someone review. 

http://www.deadinsect.co.uk/2007/09/gourme...green-road.html

this place is really good.

we had 8 lamb skewers, covered in chilli and cumin and very well grilled.

chilli chicken, chilli pork,  cooling cucumber, fried beans minced pork, spicy crab which was huge for the price and rice.

total per head was just £11.

Very authentic, everyone eating in there seemed to be young mainland chinese.

Waitress have very little english and menu is all in chinese too.

Place is more cafe then restaurant.

Looked very popular judging by the number of people willing to wait for a table.

Only bummer is it is out in bethnal green and quite a walk from the station.

Having a chinese reader and speaker would help a lot in ordering here. 

Out of my all group this place rated well above Angeles and Bar shu.

so give it a try if you ever in the area

Gourmet San's great, isn't it. It does have the most baffling menu imaginable, though. Half is poorly-translated pork offal and there are at least four dishes saying nothing more than 'chicken with chillies'.

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I thought I'd give this a bump and see if anyone had had any recent experiences, good or bad. Is Haozhan as good as initial reports suggested? Has anyone tried the new(ish) Sichuan on Charing Cross Road, Red and Hot? I habitually go to New Mayflower on Shaftesbury Avenue but the last few visits have been disappointing.

Interestingly I went to the Mayflower on Saturday and found it far less good than previously. Red n'Hot is very, very good-but print out the menu online if you want the more exciting offal dishes, which seemed to have been excised on the 'English' menu. Superb technique in all the classics.

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  • 4 weeks later...
I know this is not china town

but someone mentioned sichaun.

I went here last week 

Gourmet San, 261 Bethnal Green Road, E2

heres someone review. 

http://www.deadinsect.co.uk/2007/09/gourme...green-road.html

this place is really good.

we had 8 lamb skewers, covered in chilli and cumin and very well grilled.

chilli chicken, chilli pork,  cooling cucumber, fried beans minced pork, spicy crab which was huge for the price and rice.

total per head was just £11.

Very authentic, everyone eating in there seemed to be young mainland chinese.

Waitress have very little english and menu is all in chinese too.

Place is more cafe then restaurant.

Looked very popular judging by the number of people willing to wait for a table.

Only bummer is it is out in bethnal green and quite a walk from the station.

Having a chinese reader and speaker would help a lot in ordering here. 

Out of my all group this place rated well above Angeles and Bar shu.

so give it a try if you ever in the area

Gourmet San's great, isn't it. It does have the most baffling menu imaginable, though. Half is poorly-translated pork offal and there are at least four dishes saying nothing more than 'chicken with chillies'.

Just to add to the thumbs up for Gourmet San, I've just written it up on my blog, link in my signature below, but suffice to say I was very impressed, great value, food is different to the norm and delicious. The place was quite grubby looking when we went, but if that doesn't put you off, I'd say its worth going out of your way for. I'm certainly planning on going back. Its a really good food experience and I'm suprised it hasn't had a bit more attention on the forums.

Sorry that this isn't really on topic for the title of the thread, but since its already mentioned in this thread I thought I'd add to the praise, it deserves to be better known. (Not that its struggling for custom, it was packed when I went). Anyone know how to do that clever thing where the above posts on Gourmet San are turned into a seperate thread, leaving this one relevant?

Iestyn.

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Had a very enjoyable meal at bar shu last week, Pickled vegetables, Sliced pigs ear and a spicy prawn dish as well as a very good crispy beef dish (sorry - not at my most descriptive today!) service was v good too. As Jon mentioned earlier it is not cheap - £18 seemed to be the average price of seafood dishes but it was all v tasty..

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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