There is little doubt that London’s Chinatown is well worth a visit and is one of those most vibrant areas of the capital.
The first London Chinatown was based in the Limehouse area of London, developing as a result of the busy East End docks. However, following bombing throughout the Second World War, the Chinatown area eventually relocated to its current location in the city of Westminster.
Found off Shaftesbury Avenue, the area is now open to around 80 Chinese restaurants serving some of the UK’s leading Asian cuisine.
One of the most popular restaurants is the Feng Shui Inn, which has been at the heart of Chinatown for more than a decade. As well as good food, it also a great place to indulge in some karaoke – with three rooms that offer the chance to get up and sing.
If you are looking for something a little more low-key then the Joy King Lau on Leicester Street sells some of the most traditional dim sum in the UK. The pickled raw octopus and the stuffed fish maw are recommended by the locals.
If you fancy some sweet Chinese cuisine, then make sure you visit Kowloon Bakery at 21-22 Gerrard Street – it often has lengthy queues, but it is really worth it. They serve delicious jin deui – small doughnuts covered in sesame seeds, which are then filled with either a lotus paste, sweet black bean or red bean paste. They sound odd, but they are delicious.
In terms of shopping, the largest supermarket in Chinatown is Loon Fung on Gerrard Street. It sells all sorts of Chinese produce and one of the highlights is the butcher counter, that is well stocked with a wide range of meat cuts.
New Loon Moon is the place to head if looking to buy Thai and Vietnamese produce, it also has great stocks of high-quality herbs and vegetables. There is also a special section dedicated to Korean and Japanese dry goods.
In addition to food there is also plenty of opportunities to discover more about traditional Chinese medicine. Chinatown is home to a number of practitioners in various Chinese healing techniques, including acupuncture and reflexology. Practised for thousands of years, it is claimed they can cure a wide range of conditions and illnesses.
The nearest London Underground stations to Chinatown are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus – making it easy to make a visit during your stay in London.