There’s not much that can beat a hot basket of fresh dim sum. Despite the fact that London is thousands of miles away from the south of China, where this iconic dish originates, the British capital can still serve up some of the most authentic dim sum outside of Asia.
The capital’s rich, multicultural heritage comes to life when you head out in search of dim sum, as London is bursting with dim sum goodness. This beautiful Chinese dish, which translates literally as ‘to touch the heart’, makes a hearty impression on all who try it. You can enjoy these simple, yet profound dumplings in many different ways. Whether you are after your dim sum steamed, fried, sweet or savoury, you’ll find just the right style for you in London’s many restaurants.
Start your culinary journey eating the best dim sum in Soho’s Chinatown, but save room because, across the capital, there are many more dim sum restaurants to indulge in!
Opium Cocktail Bar and Dim Sum Parlour
Our list of the best places for dim sum in London kicks off in Oriental style with the Opium Cocktail Bar and Dim Sum Parlour. This intriguingly named bar and restaurant is as curious as the name suggests, and it’s a fascinating venue that’s packed with both character and flavour.
If you can find your way into Opium, then it’s like taking a step back into 19th century Hong Kong, as you’ll be immersed into the world of the Far East. This is Speak Easy style, so the bar itself is hidden behind a nondescript door in central London. It’s quite literally like walking into a forbidden opium den.
The focus of this establishment is cocktails and dim sum. You’ll find a huge array of drinks on offer late into the night, and you can complement the masterfully crafted drinks with masterfully created dim sum.
Hakkasan is a worldwide chain of incredibly upmarket Cantonese restaurants found in such glamorous locations as New York, Dubai and Shanghai. The London restaurant is one of the most highly regarded, and it comes complete with a Michelin star.
Hakkasan serves up a beautiful range of dishes that take inspiration from southern China and, of course, dim sum is one of their specialities. The restaurant makes use of seasonal and local ingredients, ensuring that the dim sum you can eat in London is very different from the dim sum in the same restaurant in say the United Arab Emirates.
That unique flair gives the food at Hakkasan a truly local flavour, without losing sight of the Cantonese inspiration, and you’ll find that the menu and flavours change constantly through the year.
As well as excellent dim sum, you’ll also be able to order from their marvellous wine list and creative cocktail menu, both of which successfully fuse Eastern and Western tastes and inspiration.
The same team behind Hakkasan set their sights on creating a culinary empire. In London, you can also visit the Michelin-starred Yauatcha, which is located in Soho and also keeps to the highest standards.
Whereas Hakkasan has a broader menu that delves into an array of Cantonese cuisines, Yauatcha is more focused and puts its energy into crafting the ultimate dim sum.
This is one of the best places to visit for dim sum lovers, particularly if you aren’t worried about price but are only focused on quality and flavour. The atmosphere is elegant and sleek, and the fusion of flavours, both traditional Cantonese and Western accompaniments, are seamless.
The traditional feel is added to by the extensive tea menu. Traditionally, dim sum is eaten alongside a hefty dose of hot tea, and you’ll find that Yauatcha serves up the heftiest and most varied doses of tea in the capital.
A. Wong is also one of London’s high-end Chinese restaurants, offering an exceptional glimpse into the true diversity of China’s culinary tradition. The restaurant is the work of Andrew Wong, a legendary Chinese-British chef who has been bringing traditional Chinese cooking techniques to contemporary London.
A. Wong is a standout from the regular Chinese fare in London and across the rest of the country. This is because it dares to stray from what has become traditional ‘Chinese-British’ cuisine, or the version of Chinese food imported from Hong Kong in the last few decades that the public now see as synonymous with wider China, even if that’s far from the truth.
Andrew Wong offers a ten-course tasting menu that shows the varied cuisine of the country, and not just the cuisine from one small part of China. As well as this tasting menu, there’s a beautiful dim sum menu that also takes inspiration from across the whole of China, rather than just the south, giving this restaurant a dynamic slant over many of London’s other Chinese establishments.
Andrew Wong isn’t just stopping with his famed, Michelin-starred A. Wong restaurant though. He’s recently opened a new venture in the Bloomberg Arcade in the City of London. His new restaurant is simply called Kym’s, which was the name of his parent’s original Chinese restaurant in London when he was growing up in the city.
The original Kym’s was more of a greasy, Cantonese-style eatery that many Brits will be familiar with from that classic Chinese takeaway night on weekends that everyone has experienced on one too many occasions. While he took inspiration from this style of cooking, Andrew Wong also wanted to turn the Chinese culinary scene on its head in London, and the new Kym’s is very far removed from his parents’ restaurant.
Kym’s is as stylish as it is innovative, and you’ll find some of the best dim sum in London on the menu. Kym’s blends the history and heritage of Chinese culinary traditions with the more modern Chinese-British culinary scene and creates a wonderful fusion that’s quite unlike either of its primary inspirations.
Really authentic Chinese food can be difficult to find in the inspired, fusion restaurants of multicultural London, but one place that is serving up dishes that are as true to their origins as you can find in Britain, is Mamalan.
Mamalan takes its culinary expertise from the streets of Beijing. While you can now find it in two locations, in Brixton and Clapham, the restaurants haven’t lost sight of their first goals, which was to serve up street food from China to Londoners.
The owner’s parents ran small street stalls in Beijing, and this is reflected in the authentic quality of the dishes on offer today, thousands of miles away, in the British capital rather than the Chinese capital. You can find supreme, handmade dumplings on offer, produced in a distinctive Beijing style that’s hard to find elsewhere in London. As well as the gorgeous dumplings, Mamalans also serves up homemade noodles, as well as homemade bao buns too.
The creatively named Ugly Dumpling has quickly become a hit in Soho, thanks to its creative dumplings and dim sum. The aim of the Ugly Dumpling is to transform dumplings from a simple snack into an innovative London staple, and they aren’t afraid of trying new things and fusing together different culinary styles from both East and West to create something new.
This is where dumplings are taken to the next level. While they have the traditional heritage of dim sum at the core of their ethos, Ugly Dumpling does a great job taking seasonal British ingredients and taking advantage of London’s vast multiculturalism to produce dumplings that are quite unlike anywhere else in the city.
With the simple dumpling concept as the basis for the menu, Ugly Dumpling adds in unusual ingredients such as salmon, truffles or halloumi, ingredients you wouldn’t expect to find on your dim sum menu, but ingredients, that, for the most part, seem to work gloriously. Ugly Dumpling started out as a food truck, but despite moving to restaurant premises and setting up a more traditional shop in London, surprisingly, they’ve still managed to keep the prices mostly at street food level.
My Neighbours the Dumplings
Equally well named and creatively inspired is the excellent My Neighbours the Dumplings restaurant in Hackney. These guys specialise in all things dumplings and dim sum, but they also specialise in Sake.
The focus is on all types of dumplings – not just dim sum – and you can choose from a wonderful menu that takes inspiration from across Asia and aims to showcase as much of the dumpling world to London as it can. The style of serving and eating though is distinctly dim sum, as you’ll be able to mix and match your dumplings, as they are served up basket style.
To accompany your dumpling selection, you can choose from the extensive Sake menu, and you’ll find Sake brands and Sake cocktails that you didn’t even know existed before you stepped into My Neighbours the Dumplings.
Another of London’s unique dim sum restaurants is Ping Pong, and you’ll find that this contemporary dim sum and cocktail bar has eight different venues across the capital.
Ping Pong certainly takes top marks for its name, but you won’t actually find any Ping Pong tables here. What you will find though, are some of the best dim sum in London and a huge menu that’s perfect for sharing.
Order up a few baskets of dim sum, order a few steamed buns to go with it, and if you’re really hungry, you can even order fresh bowls of noodles or soup to accompany the dim sum feast.
In Beijing, the Hutongs are a historic part of the city – small communities with narrow streets and heritage-listed houses that have stood unchanged in hundreds of years. That sense of tradition has been brought to London, and at the Hutong restaurant you can enjoy the cuisine of northern China, including excellent dim sum-style dumplings in a modern setting.
That setting is as superb as the food, because Hutong is found a world away from the streets of Beijing and high up on the 33rd floor of the iconic Shard building in London. This is where the north of China meets head-on with London, and it’s a beautiful fusion of food and culture that’s well worth the price tag.
Buns aren’t strictly dim sum, but they are from the same dumpling-inspired family. In London the best place to find some authentic Cantonese-style buns is at the Bun House.
It’s a simple name for a simple concept, and you can find a wide selection of buns from across Asia. The focus is on Cantonese-style bao buns, which you can find in ample supply on the menu, and in various shapes, sizes and with a huge range of delicious fillings.
Those filings are exquisite. You can find a range of choices that will leave you wanting to try everything on the menu, from traditional Chinese fillings to more modern London-fusion fillings.
Novikov has a reputation for being one of the most expensive and exclusive restaurants in London. Equally, it also has a reputation for serving some of the best dim sum in London.
The restaurant might not sound particularly Chinese, but the Asian food served up in the swanky Mayfair establishment is world class. Novikov has two restaurants on the same premises, and you can choose from the Novikov Italian or the Novikov Asian restaurants. If you’re after the dim sum though, head to the Asian floor.
The food is undeniably expensive – in many ways you pay as much for the atmosphere and the chance to see celebrities and footballers dining as you do for the food – but the dim sum is undeniably excellent.
As well as the restaurant, Novikov has a renowned cocktail bar, where you can find classics and an array of fusion drinks. But just remember that prices are equally as high as the food!
If you’re visiting London in search of a dim sum feast, check out Premium Tours’ superb range of London tours. As London experts we can show you the best the city has to offer, including the most delicious places to eat dim sum!