The flavors of Asia are more alive in London than ever: With an eclectic mash-up of Eastern flavors and tastes including Chinese, Malaysian, Japanese, and Vietnamese cuisines, you can find authentic elements of street food mixed with classics, premium ingredients like Wagyu and Kobe beef, comfort food, and of course, steaming bowls of ramen. From expansive spaces to small storefronts, London’s love affair with Asian cuisine shows no sign of cooling off. Below, we’ve honed in on a unique sampling of these on-trend eateries.
Soho’s small, narrow Engawa is one of the handful of eateries that offer Wagyu beef in London. Inside, nab one of the twenty-nine seats for a lunch of bento boxes or a dinner of three-, five-, or eight-course tasting menus, which include the pricey Kobe beef three ways and artistically crafted plates with gorgeous fresh sushi and sashimi. Perhaps the best seat is at the bar, where you can watch the chefs work their culinary cutting-skill magic.
It’s like a scene of out a James Bond film at elegant TĪNG (located on the thirty-fifth floor of the luxurious Shangri-La at The Shard), which doubles as a restaurant and lounge inside Renzo Piano’s iconic skyscraper. To enjoy the expansive city views, opt for afternoon tea—including both Asian and traditional English preparations. The lounge grants you a la carte Malaysian options including specialties like nasi goreng, char kuey teow, and wonton soup—all deeply satisfying. If you want to continue a taste of the Bond life, retreat to the hotel’s new Signature Suites and have your butler deliver a late-night bowl of spicy curry laksa.
For takeaway Vietnamese sandwiches, look no further than the cheerful Whaam Banh Mi. Owner Tom Barlow lived in Vietnam for a few years, and his research paid off. The result is a mix of airy baguettes filled with slow-cooked fillings like tender brisket with fresh herbs.
For Taiwanese street food dishes, the small, sleek BAO offers steamed buns generously filled with braised pork and peanut powder; a dessert version is made with with Horlicks ice cream and doughnut batter.
Like its name suggests, Beer & Buns doles out Japanese micro-brewed beers and fluffy buns filled with classics like pork belly, pulled duck leg, and “kaki fry” vegetables, with assorted slaws and chutneys. Beyond buns, opt for the Korean chicken wings and afterward join in on an on-site retro rock ‘n’ roll pinball (or foosball) game.
Casual Japanese pubs have arrived in posh Mayfair. The Woodstock Kushiyaki Bar (11 Woodstock St.), which claims to be London’s first authentic izakaya, is the spot for Asian beer like Asahi and hirata buns (the Asian equivalent of the burger). With more than twenty skewers including vegetarian options, the menu showcases freshly grilled kushiyaki (with teriyaki sauce) and fried kushiage (fried skewers with miso and dashi). Don’t miss the generous chunks of pork belly and the king prawns with lime (add extra teriyaki). Wash everything down with some Japanese whisky.
In Soho, The Duck & Rice, an innovative, stylish “Chinese gastropub” from restaurateur Alan Yau, riffs on classic pub fare by pairing it with Chinese comfort-food elements. The tender Cantonese duck is a given, and both the salt-and-pepper squid and hearty chili Sichuan chicken with spring onions, garlic, dry red chili, and peppercorns pair well with a cold beer—make sure to see what’s on tap from the huge on-site copper tanks.
Industrial-style Kurobuta (named after a rare breed of pork as esteemed as Kobe beef) is a contemporary, boisterous spot from chef Scott Hallsworth, who cut his teeth at Nobu. The wooden dining room pulsates with indie music as small plates, like snow crab nigiri with yuzu citrus mayo, soft-shell crab tempura, fresh sashimi, and casual Wagyu beef sliders, emerge from the kitchen.
On Carnaby, find Korean comfort food with a mod twist at the dark wood-on-wood Jinjuu (which translates to “Pearl”) helmed by chef Judy Joo, who worked for Gordon Ramsay. Instagram-worthy dishes like Korean tacos, bibimbap (a combination of vegetables, rice, and marinated tofu), barbecued meats, and plates like bo ssäm pork belly with apple cabbage kimchi wash down well with soju (Korea’s popular and potent distilled beverage) cocktails.
For rock ‘n’ roll flair, stop by the dimly lit, divey, pan-Asian eatery Joe’s Oriental Diner on King’s Road for Asian beers and Australian chef Scott Hallsworth’s menu. Mixing plates include low-key crisp Asian vegetables, barbecue scallops, crab claws in fried wonton skins with sweet chili, steamed buns with beef, and Thai pork sausage. On Fridays, head over for happy hour and barbecue wings. Of course, there are ample cocktails to get “soy sauced” on, including the Nuclear Daiquiri (lime, honey, chartreuse, and overproof rum) and the Singapore Sling (pineapple, cherry, gin, and grenadine).
Ramen is all the rage in Covent Garden thanks to the authentic tonkotsu (made with pork broth) ramen bar Kanada-Ya offering noodle dishes cooked to your liking (soft, regular, hard, or very hard). The flavorful, rich, warming stock with some spicy, red miso paste and pink pickled ginger, along with sake, is a perfect way to clear your sinuses. Note that there are twenty-four seats and no reservations, so arrive early to procure your seat.
Across the street, the hip, two-story Ippudo (with renowned locales in New York, Hong Kong, and Tokyo) specializes in Hakata-style ramen, including tonkotsu with pork loin slices, kirurage(mushrooms) and noodles, and dishes like grilled black cod.