Hungry? These are the best Asian restaurants to visit in London now
Lex Shu Chan and Claire Sachiko launched digital cookbook Recipes Against Racism last month. Featuring dishes from leading Asian restaurants and chefs, the pair are on a mission to raise money and stop anti-Asian hate crime.
Need some foodie inspiration now that restaurants are back up and running? We’ve enlisted the expertise of Lex Shu Chan and Claire Sachiko to put an end to your dining indecision. By day, the long-term friends, who met at uni in 2006, are kick-ass lawyers. By night, they’ve built a reputation for hosting delicious supper clubs across London. When it comes to Asian cuisine, these two are locked into the scene.
Both with multi-layered cultural identities – Shu is Canadian born, Hong Kong raised and British educated, while Sachiko is French-Japanese-American – the two bonded through experiences respective of their Asian heritage.
Together they started eponymous platform Sachiko & Shu in 2019, a project that amplifies their joint love of storytelling and food. Following years of sharing recipes and their knowledge of the Asian restaurant scene with family and peers, they’ve now channeled their passion into activism.
Digital cookbook, Recipes Against Racism, launched last month. Jam-packed with selections from Chinese Laundry, Mambow, Atsuko’s Kitchen and many more, the duo are using the power and unity of food as a vehicle for change.
Since the pandemic began, there has been a threefold increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the UK, with many members of the ESEA community saying they no longer feel safe. To combat fear and ensure that people get the mental health support they need, Sachiko & Shu are donating 100 per cent of the cookbook donations to charity.
The first charity, Stop Hate UK, has a 24/7 helpline, and teams working to challenge hate crimes and discrimination. The second, End the Virus of Racism, is a grassroots, non-profit coalition, calling for an end to racism following the pandemic.
“The physical violence has escalated a lot this year,” says Sachiko. “There’s been a lot of anti-Asian rhetoric that has had a big impact on communities around the world. The digital cookbook is a great way to tell people stories, but also to bring about this reflection that if you’re consuming culture, you can play a role in the conversation of anti-racist activism.”
Buy your copy of Recipes Against Racism here, and discover the pair’s tasty curation of London’s best East and Southeast Asian restaurants below.
593 High Rd Leytonstone, London, E11 4PA
Family-run Singburi is the neighbourhood BYO restaurant of dreams and also low-key makes the best Thai food in London. Order absolutely everything from the chalk board and you won’t go wrong. Their clams with garlic, chilli and basil, jungle curry with crab or skate, and moo krob are out of this world! The more well-known dishes like pad thai, tom yum and massaman from the classics menu are delicious too, but we recommend you strike out after a year of eating at home.
Hai Cafe (Vietnamese)
120B Lower Clapton Road, E5 0QR
This is one of our favourite Vietnamese restaurants in town, named after the north Vietnamese city of Hai Duong. Mama Hai’s unique take on Vietnamese cuisine sets this cosy spot apart from its East London counterparts. The menu is premised on the “classic trinity” of Vietnamese food – Pho, Bun and Banh Mi – and everything is made and marinated from scratch. Our personal favourites are the delectable spring rolls!
Lucky & Joy (Chinese)
95 Lower Clapton Rd, Lower Clapton, London, E5 0NP
Lucky & Joy is an ode to Chinese regional cooking, and its menu reads like a set of stories from its owners’ travels through China, in edible form. It’s fast becoming an East London institution. Make sure you don’t miss out on the turnip cake with soft egg, the sesame noodles or the Yunnan style aubergine with tofu, washed down with a coco-pandan Old Fashioned.
Xi’an Impression (Xi’an) BYO
117 Benwell Rd, London, N7 7BW
The problem with Xi’an Impression is that you need to come to terms with the fact you just won’t be able to eat everything on the menu. The region of Xi’an is famous for its use of wheat (rather than rice) flour, turning it into all sorts of delicious dumplings, noodles and flatbreads. We’re particularly obsessed with the biang biang noodles with chilli oil, the cold noodles and the pot-sticker dumplings! The pork or beef burgers are also worth a try if you want to sample more Xi’an street food.
Roti King (Malaysian) BYO
40 Doric Way, London, NW1 1LH
We’ve missed many things over lockdown and queuing for Roti King’s Roti Canai in the backstreets of Euston is one of them. Tearing off a piece of hot flaky pastry and dipping it in mutton curry has to be one of life’s greatest pleasures. Roti King also do a mean take on hawker stall staples, like char kway teow, nasi goreng and laksa.
Maxim Ealing (Pekingese)
153 – 155 Northfield Ave, London, W13 9QT
Maxim boasts an extensive menu including Pekingese dishes, such as egg white “mock crab” and, of course, the famous Peking duck. Mrs. Chow, who has been running the restaurant since 1974, is also a bit of an Ealing institution!
Sushi Tetsu (Japanese)
12 Jerusalem Passage, London, EC1V 4JP
If you can get a reservation at the seven-person capacity restaurant Sushi Tetsu, guard it with your life and go eat some of the best sushi in London, while feeling like you’re at a dinner party with the restaurant’s husband and wife owners. Opt for the chef’s menu omokase and you won’t regret it. You might feel you’ve tasted the divine. We’re not exaggerating when we say the experience could just change your life.
30 Rupert St, London, W1D 6DL
We cannot wait for this dreamy, opulent 1930s Taiwanese social club-inspired dining room to reopen! We have such fond memories of scrumptious classics from “mian shi”, from sheng jian bao (pan-fried pork buns) and beef short-rib roast marrow pancakes, to main dishes like the chilli egg drop crab and char siu Iberico pork. We also love the expertly hosted tea ceremony (and, of course, the pineapple cakes).
58 Brewer St, London, W1F 9TL
A contributor to our cookbook, Kiln is an open fire restaurant that serves beautiful seasonal fare, cooked on a wood burning kiln oven and grills. The food is influenced by the regions where Thailand borders Burma, Laos and Yunnan. The menu is always changing, but one perennial favourite is the clay pot baked glass noodles, with tamworth belly and brown crab meat.
Cafe TPT (Hong Kong)
21 Wardour St, London, W1D 6PN
Lex grew up in Hong Kong and this has always been their taste of home away from home! One of the few “dai pai dong” (open air food stall) style cafes in London, this unassuming spot serves dishes such as beef flank curry and Hong Kong-style baked pork chop rice, which you may not find elsewhere in Chinatown.
Sollip (French /Korean)
Unit 1, 8 Melior St, London, SE1 3QP
Sollip combines European cooking with Korean influences, adding a fine dining, minimalist vibe. Sollip have now moved to a tasting menu, but when we were there, we were vibing with the daikon tarte tatin, the naughty gamtae cheese sandwich, the catch of the day in beef and leek broth, and the braised beef short rib with truffle butter rice. It’s a true piece of restaurant dining theatre and maybe a bit of a treat price wise, but we all deserve some of that after the last few months.
Dragon Castle (Cantonese)
100 Walworth Rd, London, SE17 1JL
Dim sum is one of the things we have missed most during lockdown and Dragon Castle offers a delicious alternative to Chinatown for those who live South. We love the char siu so (roast pork puff), dough stick cheung fun and crab meat e‑fu noodles here.
Sarap BAon (Philippino)
14D Market Row, London, SW9 8LD
A Recipes Against Racism contributor, recently opened Sarap BAon champions Filipino cuisine, serving modern interpretations of dishes inspired by the food and lechon houses of the Philippines. The delicious menu features a signature lechon – slow roasted pork belly stuffed with lemongrass, chilli, garlic & ginger, served with lechon liver sauce and coconut vinegar – which should definitely be your number one order choice.