Thursday, 13 January 2011

London Chinatown food reviews - Part 1

This is the first of (hopefully) a series of Chinatown food reviews :)

Mark and I are big eaters, and especially love Chinese food ( he is half Chinese after all!) So he's been eating in Chinatown his whole life, and I've been going there since my teens with Chinese schoolfriends ^^

More under jump (image heavy)

You've probably heard that Chinatown is not the place to enjoy Chinese food, as it's overpriced and poor quality. I'd say that's true of 75% of the restaurants. But, that still leaves 25% :)

Last weekend we took our new camera on its first outing. Mark took all the photos this time.

At the weekend we felt like Malaysian food, and since Mark's mum is Malaysian, she recommended C&R Cafe. So we went for lunch with Marks' parents (after getting stuck in Holborn station and then having to walk from there which was no fun.)

We saw some durian on sale. Known to 'taste like heaven but smell like hell'. When you cut into it it smells like sewage. But according to Mark's mum, it's absolutely delicious; you just need to cut it and eat it quickly before the smell hits you. I think I'll give it a miss since I'm hypersensitive to smells.

Loon Fung supermarket. Kinda self explanatory really! 

C&R Cafe is well hidden, down a tiny alley called Rupert Court, off Whitcomb Street. The alley is directly opposite a branch of Mr Wu.

Inside it has a very casual cafe feel, with blue topped tables and specials written in felt tip. The menu is pretty huge, with soup noodles, fried noodles, fried rice dishes, curries and Malaysian specialities. Almost as big as the food menu is the freshly made drinks menu. Take care in ordering these, as some are so creamy they are like a dessert in themselves!

Mark had lime and preserved plum. It's really intensely flavoured and rather salty from the plum. Not my taste but Mark loved it enough to order a second one!

I ordered a red bean bubble tea, and this really was like a dessert. Very sweet and thick ^^;

I ordered Nasi Goreng, Malaysian style (spicy fried rice with prawns). It was  maybe a little too mild. But very nice nonetheless.

Mark and his dad had Nasi Lemak. It's spicy curry with chicken, sambal, fried sweet anchovies, boiled egg, peanuts and pickles.

I think Mark enjoyed it :p

Mark's mum had seafood noodles with sauce. It looked really tasty!

As a side dish we had okra with Sambal. It was sooo good! Strong chilli flavour without being too spicy, and a kind of caramelised burnt quality which is much tastier than it sounds!

Chicken satay. I'm not a fan of satay, but it was good.

We didn't have dessert, but had some yummy Malaysian coffee. It's made with condensed milk, so it's super sweet and creamy.

I'll definitely be back to this place! If you've never tried Malaysian food, I think it's a good place to go :)

Anyway, I should mention Chinese food since it's Chinatown after all. Where should you go if you just want good Chinese food? I would recommend Harbour City. It's a Cantonese restaurant, and I think it's pretty good!

We got a lot of stares taking this photo! The signs are from Daiso Tokyo. This is the 'good' sign, we also have 'ok' and 'NG'.

Speaking of NG; Wong Kei. I think this restaurant is bloody awful. It's big, you get your food instantly and it's cheap, but the food is worse than even your grubbiest local takeway. Things that are fried are cold and chewy before you get them. Which is worrying since you only ordered them 2 minutes before, so they were obviously just sitting around before you even ordered them. It also seems to attract the roughest tourists.

I know a lot of people who use Wong Kei for the convenience of big tables for big groups. But, I would always go for New World first. Then your big group can sit on the stage! New World is also a tourist trap, but at least the food is tasty there! Try the custard buns for dessert ^^

Anyway, we had to go home quite soon after eating so that's all for part one >_<

Luckily we managed to get some dashi, so I can now make udon. It's such a great dinner if you're tired and not wanting to cook. Also really easy to make a one person portion! Here's a quick recipe:
- Cook udon and rinse well in cold water. Dried udon is available from most supermarkets.
- Boil water and add a little soy sauce, dashi and dried seaweed to make the soup.
- Boil an egg in the still hot noodle water for 30 seconds then rinse in cold water.
- Pour the hot soup over the cold udon and imediately crack the egg over.
 Quick, easy and tasty!

Mark wants to dig in ^^

Oh yeah, I'm temping in a factory at the moment. Tomorrow is my last day, I hope they'll give me more work in future. I'm working 6am to 11am at a luxury cosmetics company on the production line. It's a global brand and a really nice company. It's really hard work on a production line, but the products smell beautiful so it's quite enjoyable :)


  1. WTF?! Chinatown is amazing! Most of the restaurants are good and reasonably priced! So slap whoever told you that Chinatown is not the place for Chinese food! You'll actually find that most places outside of China town are even more expensive and not as good quality!!!

    Yes Wong Kei is awful, but thats what its famous for, its cheap and bad service, it even has a slogan printed on teeshirts about it!

    And New World is just as bad as Wong Kei, once I saw mushrooms growing on their carpets, this was less then 5 years ago, that was my first and last time in there.

    If you are after good Chinese food I recommend HK Diner, its like C&R but Cantonese. And for Dim Sum Golden Pagoda is good with a extremely newbie friendly menu with photos and number bingo style ordering.

    Theres also a Golden Gate cafe on Shaftesbury avenue that has delicious cake to eat in.

    Chinatown is AMAZING. Its more like 75% awesomeness 25% tourist crap like Mr Wu buffets :P

  2. Hehe, I love HK Diner, I'll definitely be doing a photo review of it. I've been going there for about 7 years now :)

  3. Ohhh making me hungry!^_^ I used to love going to Chinatown to eat because there's this dimsum shop around the corner. Everything's so nice but expensive there. Just don't go to the cheap buffet shops, the food there isn't so good.

  4. AAH i love custard buns! <3
    I haven't been eating chinese food at chinatown only because i eat it at home anyway! but i wouldn't mind eating with you next time!!
    Have you heard of Golden Gate? Its a chinese dessert house, they do lots of yummy chinese desserts~ :D

  5. love love love your blog!
    your layouts fab!

  6. Kei: I heaven't eaten there yet, we should go! <3

  7. Woo, i am big fan of chinese food as well ^^ collectin recepies n stuff. Looks yummeh!

  8. The food looks so yummy. I love Asian food. I love bubble tea! I want to go get some now.

  9. I've only been to one Chinatown, which was in Calgary in Canada. The best part about it was the Vietnamese subs!
    Haha, I can't wait to see more reviews as you explore various Chinatowns =3