London’s Best Dim Sum and Asian Dumplings
Best for… hot right now dumplings
Xu, the upmarket Taiwanese restaurant from the people behind Bao, took a while to warm up. At first reports were shaky, but a recent review from Marina O ‘Loughlin garnered a full ‘swoon’.
The intricate dumplings are made from taro and stuffed with either sweet potato and miso or Taiwanese sausage, and dressed with Kow Choi chilli dressing. The dough is slightly springy and almost translucent in appearance and the filling intense of flavour. They’re unlike anything else you’ll find in London right now, and you’ll get to tick off an essential hot London restaurant experience at the same time.
Xu, 30 Rupert Street, W1D 6DL
Best for… a quick, no-frills fix
This Chinatown spot is pretty full at any time of day, with diners hungry for their next dumpling basket. It’s a paper tablecloths, tick box job with brisk service, which is 100% fine by us.
We recommend the scallop cheung fun, which is filled with loads of sweet seafood amidst its large flappy noodles. They also do pretty good xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and lots of huge prawn dumplings with crunchy prawn inside – don’t be alarmed; it’s a deliberate preparation using bicarbonate of soda to achieve that unique texture.
Dumplings Legend, 15–16 Gerrard Street, W1D 6JE
Best for… East End cool
My Neighbours The Dumplings
My Neighbours The Dumplings in E5 is where to go if you’re young and hip, or just want a fresh dumpling experience.
All the meat and fish for these dumplings is ethically sourced and it shows through in the end product, which is full of flavour and not as rigid of texture as its Chinatown counterparts. They do give the prawns a brief dunk in the bicarb here but they’re considerably less crisp, if that’s something that unnerves you in more traditional joints.
My Neighbours The Dumplings, 165 Lower Clapton Road, E5 8EQ
Best for… special occasion dim sum
We’re not really into this style of dim sum dining – lots of sleek surfaces, lots of black décor and spotlit tables – but if it’s your thing, then Hakkasan is the place for you. There’s no denying the quality of the dumplings and there are loads of classics alongside more experimental options, including venison puffs and wagyu beef cheung fun. It has a Michelin star, so be prepared to pay accordingly.
Hakkasan Mayfair, 17 Bruton Street, W1J 6QB
Best for… xiao long bao
Yauatcha is another swanky joint, in a prime Soho location. They specialise in xiao long bao, so if that’s your calling then you’ll need to tick this one off the list. They’re on the menu as siew long bun, but rest assured it’s the same soupy dumpling you long for, filled with king crab and pork.
If you’re a soup dumpling novice then allow us to warn you – they need to cool down a bit before you eat them. It seems obvious, but we’ve witnessed many a nasty burn to the mouth. They’re best eaten whole, we think, but if you want to test the mettle of that broth first, nibble a hole in the base and slurp it out.
Yauatcha, 15–17 Broadwick Street, W1F 0DL
Best for… shen jiang bao
An Instagram favourite, Dumpling Shack make the most beautiful shen jiang bao, soup dumplings which are then pan fried, so you get the best of two styles of dumpling in one.
The stall is rather lovely, with all the puffy dumplings nestled up against each other in a giant pan, snowy white on top and golden and crisp underneath. They’re probably some of the most addictive carbs in the whole of London. Their wontons in chilli oil are also worth loosening a belt buckle for.
Dumpling Shack, Broadway Market, Benjamin Close, E8 4TS
Best for… early weekend dim sum
Now, you need to get your timing right with this place because we’ve never had a good experience in there past, ooh, 1.30pm? They go off the boil rapidly once the main morning dim sum service is done, so it’s a case of eat dim sum at the proper time, or don’t eat it at all.
That said, it’s a South London stalwart. They do a particularly great fried dough stick cheung fun (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it) drenched in sweet soy sauce and keep knocking out the classics at record speed. You also get to eat at giant, old school tables with a lazy Susan in the middle.
Dragon Castle, 100 Walworth Road, SE17 1JL
Best for… something different
A Wong is like a shining beacon of salvation in the sometimes sad (although not as much of a restaurant wasteland as it used to be) Victoria. The dumplings here are works of art, and some are like nothing else you will find in London.
Their custard buns are now famous, modeled to look like little white peaches, and they have a range of equally playful savoury dumplings that you’d do well to spend an afternoon working your way through.
That said, their xiao long bao are excellent. Don’t miss them.
A Wong, 70 Wilton Road, SW1V 1DE
Best for… excellent dim sum with a view to match
The Shard isn’t blessed with a selection of particularly good restaurants, but Hutong is the exception to the rule. It isn’t a ‘throw your trainers on and stuff your face with dumplings to ease your hangover’ kind of place so you’ll need to make a little effort, but the view and the food are worth it.
It’s all about the luxury ingredients here, so xiao long bao have Iberico pork or lobster inside, buns have black truffle, and beef puffs Wagyu. Yeah, it’s flashy — but it’s also loads of fun.
Hutong, Level 33, The Shard, 31 St. Thomas Street, SE1 9RY