London Chinatown, picture of gate

Zurich Chinatown Goes London

Since we had a great time during our recent trip to Milan Chinatown, the travel bug bit us once again. This time, our destination was London with its famous Chinatown.

The sheer number of Chinese restaurants can be overwhelming. However, taking a closer look it becomes obvious that most restaurants either serve Cantonese (Guangdong) food, Sichuan cuisine, or a mixture of both.

Our first meal was just such a mixture of Guangdong delicate veggies and a hot and spicy Sichuan “Dry Pot” (干锅). That was at Fengshui Inn, which I can recommend. The very plain-looking stir-fried leaf mustard (芥兰) was a pleasant surprise; the touch of garlic in the oil complementing this tender, yet still crisp vegetable.

London Chinatown restaurant eats: dishes from Cantonese and Sichuan cuisine
The dishes for our first dinner: The leaf mustard is the one on the very right.

Of course, we also went for Sichuan food. We tried the restaurant Ermei (named after Emei Shan, the famous Mountain southwest of Chengdu). We were not disappointed: The dishes were so “ma” (the typical Sichuan pepper induced numb-spicy) that our mouths and throats went numb for a while.

London Chinatown: Four Sichuan dishes from a restaurant
Sichuan dishes galore

Spending some time in Chinatown, we noticed that there are always a lot of people, locals as well as tourists. The atmosphere is lively and the decoration and the Chinese shop signs make it seem like you are in China. Food at the restaurants is always served very quickly, with the expectation that you will make space for the next customers rather sooner than later – the high rents obviously make operating a business here very competitive. Amonst several recent issues between the Chinese residents and London authorities, there might soon be a shortage of skilled Chinese chefs due to tightening immigration restrictions – which would be a great loss to the blooming local culinary scene.

Apart from restaurants, there are a few Chinese bakeries and an array of shops – from supermarkets to tea shops, as well as massage parlours and gambling dens.

If you want to venture outside of the well known Chinatown area, a trip to north London to the Wing Yip Superstore is very worth it. At the gigantic Chinese supermarket you will find everything to satisfy your cravings – and much more. Next to it, there is a Cantonese restaurant which serves a very delicious Yum Cha or Cantonese Brunch. The choices are endless and the atmosphere just as in Guangdong – lively and 热闹.

Yum Cha in Northern London

Visit London Chinatown | Underground stations: Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus.

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