By Bronwyn Spencer
After seeing Chinese New Year celebrations stories crop up everywhere I had a sudden inspiration (ok — it was actually a craving) to go and see Chinatown and have a Chinese meal. Located right next to Soho and the Theatre District, London’s Chinatown was founded in the 1950s and has been booming ever since. This wasn’t going to be my first visit to Chinatown, as I had walked through it many a time on my way elsewhere and even in my first week in London I had grabbed a £6 all you can eat smorgasbord for dinner — as any stingy backpacker does. This time however I opted for a more thorough option and booked a table at a recommended Dim Sum restaurant with a group of friends.
I met my friends at Leicester Square before walking up Shaftsbury Avenue where the red gates and hanging lanterns lead you in the right direction. Even on a Monday evening the pedestrian streets were bustling with many groups of people pausing outside different restaurants trying to read the menus. The type of restaurants you can find along here vary from the £6 MSG filled buffet kind of places to the super fancy and elite restaurants that are booked out. There are also different kinds of Asian restaurants in Chinatown so if you’re looking for a good place for Sushi you can find that too. For us it was a middle of the range Dim Sum restaurant called Dumplings Legend that was recommended by a friend.
Once we arrived we were seated at a table with a large Lazy Susan (the raised spinning table top) and quickly went about ordering some Tiger beer and dim sum for entrees. After we tucked into our steamed pork buns from the little bamboo steamers we quickly moved onto our mains (yum sweet and sour pork!). The meals were delicious and definitely satisfied my Chinese food craving. I would also have to say one of the best things about this place was that even with drinks and a two course meal the bill was still really cheap — so even now the not so stingy backpacker can afford it.
After dinner we wandered through the streets to walk off all our food and found lots of little Chinese shops packed with Asian snacks and Chinese herbs and spices. I’m not much of a cook but if you wanted to find the perfect ingredient for a stir-fry or soup this is the place to find it.
Like many things on the Top 100 list, this won’t be my last visit to Chinatown — hopefully next year I can be organised enough to go for the Chinese New Year celebrations that inspired this visit.