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February 14, 2023
The stroke of midnight on 31 December is rarely a good time for steely–eyed New Year’s resolutions. By January 1, the prospect of even one reformed habit is as appetising as yesterday’s half–eaten Full English Breakfast.
So why not ease your way into 2023 by celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year on January 22 instead? What’s more, the Chinese Year of the Rabbit lasts until February 9, 2024. That’s 12 lunar months of peace and goodwill (the Year of the Rabbit promises calmer waters than the Year of the Tiger did in 2022). This is possibly the best reason to take advantage of London’s inventive travel industry and to celebrate for as long as possible.
Especially when the New York Times has decided that London is the No 1 destination for travellers in 2023.
London has one of the biggest Chinese populations in Europe and its cultural home is Chinatown (Gerrard Street, Soho). With its carved oriental gateway and red lanterns, it makes for picturesque selfies and great food.
Even more conveniently, Chinatown can be found just off Shaftesbury Avenue, so not only is it located right in the middle of Theatreland, it’s across the road from Carnaby and Oxford Street, and a brief stroll from Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square. And there is a wealth of affordable luxury hotels London on its doorstep.
Today’s Chinatown emerged in the late 1960s with an influx of people from Hong Kong. But London’s original Chinatown took shape in the Docklands/Limehouse district as early as the 1780s, thanks to sailors from the East India Company’s ships. There is still a big Chinese community in East London, although it’s not so visible now, thanks to post-war housing redevelopment.
Today, London has an exciting range of communities to celebrate, from Capetown to Kowloon. Not since Roman times has London buzzed with so many cultures, and there’s no better way of sampling them than through their distinctive cuisines. Below is a snapshot of some of the menus on offer in 2023. In the end, you’ll even find a section for vegans – the newest culinary community on the block.
Alongside the capital’s traditions and pageantry, there is a world of food to discover. And to make it even more enjoyable, there’s a London hotel booking just for you.
Eat Your Way Around the World
South East Asia
70 Wilton Road, SW1
This Michelin-starred Pimlico Chinese restaurant is said to offer great cuisine at everyday prices. A modern take on Chinese restaurants from Andrew Wong. Dim sum and snacks inspired by street food. Pork and prawn dumplings or preserved duck eggs in Victoria. The nearest tube is Victoria. Reserve a table. Also close by is the Wellington hotel London, with its Edwardian charm, delightful gardens and proximity to Buckingham Palace and Westminster.
Gerrard Street, W1
This is the central London location where you’ll be spoiled for choice. Restaurants and cafes, magnificent selfie territory and the heart of the Lunar New Year’s celebrations on January 22, which take in Charing Cross Road, Shaftesbury Avenue, Chinatown itself, and Trafalgar Square.
Din Tai Fung
400 Oxford Street (Selfridges)
Access: Duke Street, W1
Famous Taiwanese restaurant lands in London. Street food small plates, and soup with dumplings. Very popular. Three restaurants to choose from, aside from inside Selfridges, including Henrietta Street, Covent Garden and Centre Point, and Tottenham Court Road.
8 Hanway Place, W1
Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant. The nearest tube is Tottenham Court Road, but the restaurant is found in the small streets behind Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road itself.
8 Heddon Street, W1
A retro ramen bar in Mayfair, designed to take you back to the 1970s Yokocho alleyways of Japan.
9 Devonshire Street, EC2
Street food snacks, tandooris, regional biryanis and curries. Vegan options too. Liverpool Street underground.
138 Brick Lane, E1
Food industry award winners since 2015. Nearest tube: is Aldgate East.
Gunpowder, Tower Bridge
4 Duchess Walk, SE1
Stylish Indian restaurant offering sharing plates and a traditional and contemporary menu. Views of Tower bridge too.
17–19 Maddox Street, W1
Atoll Kacchar’s Michelin-starred restaurant in Mayfair.
10 Lincoln Street, SW3
Off the King’s Road in Chelsea, and a 3-minute walk from the Saatchi Gallery. Townhouse restaurant with upmarket specialities. Chef Rohit Ghai. Sloane Square underground.
21 Berners Street, W1
Upmarket restaurant, live fire cooking. Umami and spices in Fitzrovia. Among the best West African restaurants in London. Six or nine-course tasting menu.
High Timber Restaurant
Broken Wharf House, 8 High Timber Street, EC4
South African cuisine, featuring Stellenbosch’s most awarded wine estate, and chef Bartek Wegzryn. Stunning river views of Tate Modern and Shard.
180 Strand, WC2
The name comes from a neighbourhood in Lagos. A contemporary take on authentic West African flavours. Plantain Smoked Kelp, Salted Citrus and Lobster. Popular restaurant.
Presidential Suya Restaurant and Bar
160-164 Old Kent Road, SE1
Located on Old Kent Road and is said to be a short walk from Tower Bridge. Family-run African restaurant. Nigerian suya and Afro-Caribbean main courses, welcoming.
Bleeding Heart Bistro
Bleeding Heart Yard, Farringdon, EC1
Hard to resist a name like that. “Best French Bistro in London” (City AM) and large outdoor terrace.
Cento Alla Torre
100 Minories, EC3
Artisan pasta and fine Italian cuisine, situated within the contemporary elegance of Tower Suites, an all-apartment hotel near Tower Bridge London UK. Breath-taking views of the UNESCO world heritage site that is the 1,000-year-old Tower of London, and a brief stroll from Tower Bridge, the Tower itself and the Thames riverside. Southwark, St Paul’s and Tate Modern are nearby. A holiday in the heart of historic London.
Circus West Village, Battersea
Riverside Spot, southern Italian cuisine, chef Francesco Mazzei. 3 minutes from Battersea Power Station.
1 King’s Blvd, Kings Cross
Near the heart of King’s Cross, is an all day Grand Cafe, restaurant, outdoor sun terrace and two bars. European-inspired breakfasts, lunch, dinner and brunch. Chic Meister Bar.
10 Blenheim Street, W1
This famous 19th-century trattoria in Milan, known as the restaurant of choice for Hollywood actors and the Italian jet set, Ristorante Giannnino has a big history behind it. Now established in London’s Mayfair, it aims to provide the same mix of friendliness and sophistication that won it a place within la dolce vita.
54–56 Great Eastern Street, EC2
A 70’s Capri–style, all-day Trattoria in the middle of Shoreditch.
38 King Street, Covent Garden, WC2E
The celebrated French tea emporium, tea house and tea museum in the heart of Covent Garden. You’ll be spoiled for choice in the exquisite shop, too.
17 Frith Street, W1
Peruvian charm in Soho, Michelin Guide listed. Said to have ignited the London Peruvian restaurant tradition.
Heron Tower (38th and 39th floors)110 Bishopsgate, EC2
Japanese–Peruvian–Brazilian fusion rooftop restaurant plus 360º views of the city.
Coya Angel Court
31–33 Thorgmorton Street, EC2
Peruvian-inspired terrace in the City of London. Lunch and dinner menu, also adjacent pisco bar.
Gaucho Tower Bridge
2 More London Riverside, SE1
Argentine food and wine. 3 minutes from the floating museum, HMS Belfast.
Honey & Co
54 Lambs’s Conduit Street, WC1
After ten popular years on Warren Street, this acclaimed Middle Eastern restaurant has moved to Bloomsbury, and it’s only a four-minute walk from the Charles Dickens Museum on Doughty Street. It’s a husband-and-wife-run establishment. Salads, pastries, mezzo and iced teas.
Arch 25, Old Union Yard Arches, 229 Union Street, SE1
Michelin review: “friendly, lively restaurant which celebrates the Middle Eastern heritage of its passionate owner.” A welcoming spot under its fashionable Southwark railway arch. Food: Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Israeli.
Yalla Yalla Lebanese Kitchens
Fitzrovia and Soho, W1
Described as “Beirut street food” these popular, vibrant restaurants provide all-day mezzo and charcoal grills.
Fenwick, 63 New Bond Street,
Vegan burgers, sushi and salads from Michelin-starred chef Alexis Gauthier, who is himself vegan. Table reservations are recommended. Award-winning plant-based menu.
21 Romilly Street, W1
Alexis Gauthier again. Innovative menus include a 9-course vegan tasting menu for the curious. Faux Gras: fine dining in Soho.
2–4 Hans Crescent, SW1
Purple potato croquette, homemade basil mayo, “sexy tofu”.
45 Lexington Street, W1
Long–standing, veggie–vegan, with lots of plant-based foods. Asian, South/Central American and Middle Eastern flavours, plus burgers. British classics as well as fusion. From mushroom pie to Indian curry. Reserve a table.
33 New Oxford St (at the Old Crown Pub) WC1
Take-out, fast food, dine-in. Asian/Middle Eastern. Plant-based street food from around the world
1 Vane Street, SW1
One of London’s latest vegan restaurants is located in the Wellington Hotel London. Carefully sourced plant–based ingredients. The aim is to provide expertly prepared and tasty vegan dishes for vegans, flexitarians, health-conscious foodies, and anyone in need of delicious, healthy food. Vegan samosas, Tofocotpoz, zucchini fries and vegan burritos as well as carrot salmon. Vegan cheesecake is a hit. Also vegan pancakes, and vegan full English. Excellent location for Buckingham Palace and St James’s Park
The Vurger Co Canary Wharf
The Wharf Kitchen, Jubilee Place, E14
Dine in, takeaway: the Auberger (aubergine, gherkin and cabbage). And mac’n’cheese. Banana bagel too.
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