I’m vegetarian – and a lot of people seem surprised when I say I love Chinese food. But I do feel a little spoilt for choice in London! Of course, I haven’t visited all, but here are some of my favourites –
1. Ping Pong: I’ll start off with the options that are slightly younger in spirit and clientele. Ping Pong was my introduction to Chinese food in Britian (I have suppressed memories of a really bad takeaway from a place I’m never going back to on my first day in London!). I really like their location in Westbourne Park (the Goodge St. one worked really well for me, but it’s now closed – why?!). And when I lived in Dubai and really missed London, I’d go to the Ping Pong in Dubai Mall. In Ping Pong, it’s all about the dim sum – those little steamed parcels of deliciousness. They have a good variety of veggie ones, including a fantastic spinach and mushroom dumpling. But I keep going back to Ping Pong for their cocktails – the kumquat mojito is my fave 🙂
2. Dim T: Slightly more unusual than Ping Pong, but only just. I went to Dim T with a Chinese American friend who loved how the wrappers of the dim sum were just right. I’ll take her word for it. Dim T are also quite flexible and have some wonderful locations. For example, if you really want to impress someone – take them to the one by London Bridge, and get a table on the first floor. Fairly priced food and it could be the location for a match.com ad! It’s also a great place to take people who are visiting London. There are veggie options on the menu, although what I get normally is a customisation – the superfood stiry fry (so healthy) with some rice mixed in (not so healthy!).
3. Yum Chaa: This one’s more local for me, because it’s in Camden. For a lot of people, Yum Chaa is a brunch place along with a walk through the market/ along the canal. For me, it’s my Chinese takeout! They don’t have many vegetarian options but are always happy to help you find something.
4. Okay, it’s time: we have to get this one – KAI. Oh my God! This is London’s best kept secret, as Chinese restaurants go. They are other posher Chinese restaurants, but if you’re going to splurge on good food, this is the place to do it. Set on a quiet street in Mayfair, I can’t think of one thing that isn’t good. My only tip for Kai is to let the staff help you – tell them you’re vegetarian and what your preferences are. On our first visit their, our waiter made a fantastic off-menu suggestion and it was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. And try the lettuce wraps!
5. Hakkasan Mayfair: I haven’t been to the original yet, although I’ve been to the new Mayfair branch and it’s sister restaurant in Abu Dhabi. This is the place to go if you’re looking for hip and slinky. But it’s not all style and no substance – it fully deserves its Michelin star. There were lots of vegetarian options (just not too many dim sums) and all of it was fantastic. Although given the bar here, it’s hard to remember what you’ve eaten..
6. Yauatcha: Whenever I think of this one, I think Soho – and busy. Great place to go after a little shopping around Oxford Street and as a lunch place. Go for the buzz! Surprisingly, the macaroons at Yauatcha are what stand out to me!
7. Hunan – this impressive stalwart managed to put on a 15+ course vegetarian menu for us. It was interesting and diverse, although we thought that the interiors could do with a bit of an update.
There are so many others that haven’t made it onto my list – some for good reason, here’s looking at you, Royal China Club for your shabby veggie selection, and others because I’ve forgotten them or haven’t been in a while. Let me know what you’re favourites are!