Newest Review: ... down that path, there are various Chinese restaurants, however, once you reach the main part (on the left), there are loads of Chinese ... more
Pop on down to china town!
Member Name: jamiebeck
Advantages: great food, reasonable prices
Disadvantages: can be hit or miss, service especially
China Town, London is situated behind Leicester Square, Gerrard Street is the main street but there are some off-shoots with some decent restaurants there also. Surrounding China Town there are plenty of Theatres (showing Chicago, Avenue Q...), cinemas (Vue, Odeon...) and non Chinese restaurants (Bella Italia, Chiquitos, Steak House, Vietnamese, TGI Fridays...). If you struggle to find it, like I did when I first ventured to London years ago, here is a link that should help you place it on a map:
Although there are other things to do and see in China Town I am going to talk mainly about the restaurants as that is why I venture there. I won't name names (mainly because I can't remember them) but I'll generally about my experiences there.
I've been several times to china town, with family, friends or my girlfriend and food-wise I've really enjoyed it. Because there are so many restaurants there (literally in rows) there is high competition so the quality has to be good. That said, there are some restaurants (mainly the cheaper buffet style ones) that have little to be desired unfortunately - however, they are normally easy to spot and so i recommend you stay clear of them.
The service in these restaurants ranges from very good to very bad which makes it very much hit or miss if you go to the average looking ones like I do (one day I'll treat myself and my girlfriend to an expensive one - maybe after dooyoo pays me!). For instance, last night we went to a restaurant and the waiter could easily be described as rude, with no acknowledgements of our pleases and thank yous he gave us the impression we were an inconvenience to him and he hurried the whole service with little words or politeness.
Some restaurants let you haggle the set menu's, for instance, last night again, we found a good average priced set menu for two people at £13.50 each which consisted of won ton soup, a prawn dish, chicken in black bean sauce, crispy aromatic duck, vegetables and egg fried rice; our proposition was to change the prawn dish to sweet and sour pork (saving them £3) and to swap the egg fried rice to a house rice (saving us £3). So in general it was a fair trade (bar the slight complicatedness to them, but hey we're paying for food we want to eat right?) so we proposed thsi to the lady outside and she told us that we could swap the prawns for the pork dish but she wasn't sure about the rice swap - obviously because this was not favourable to them. But to give them credit they soon let us have it for the same price. Most other restaurants will allow this too so I definately recommend it, haggling the price is different and I'm sure most restaurants will not allow this, although I havent tried it myself.
When ordering the drinks be careful and look at the menu. Most restaurants have a small choice of beer, for instance, and there is a big difference in price to regular pub and restaurant prices. Carlsberg, for example, costs £3.80 for a pint whereas most places will charge £2.50 so this is a big difference. If you want to have a Chinese beer as I normally do, be even more careful as they can add a further pound to the pint, meaning it is nearly five pounds just for the drink!! If you're having something spicey or thirst quenching then you may have to spend ten pounds per person on that. I recommend tap water to the financially concsious!!
As for the set menus themselves, i highly recommend them, the sea food menus for two people can be as much as £50 per person (!) but as for the others you could potentially save a bit of money. As most people will have experienced, my girlfriend and I always have too much to eat and always leave something which is a shame. It would be nice to order a set menu for two and have three people eat it but unfortunately the chinese restaurants don't work like that, despite the waste it is £X per person - so if there were three of you then you'd pay each for a three person menu. In my experience there is no negotiation in that unfortunately.
The restaurants themselves are surprisingly huge, when you are shown the way in on a busy night you ca be taken for a long and winding walk upstairs passing numerous floors and rooms. Most restaurants are a little cramped and they are very efficient with their space. I quite like it as long as you're not on anyone's lap as it adds to the oriental experience.
---Other sites of interest---
As well as the restaurants there are also amusement arcades for the kids, a club for adults and teenagers which is always busy and despite being primarily an Asian crowd is inviting to all races both musically and visually. Further down Gerrard Street there is also a wholesale market which sells raw vegetables, fruit and salad from the continent so that you can attempt to make your own Chinese meal at home! Also, another addition is an Asian sweet and confectionary shop with interesting brand names such as "Collon" and "hello panda". In my experience I havent been there but i have tried Asian sweets from CyberCandy and found them very nice indeed!
Summary: located near leicester square, a whole town and community of chinese and other asian restaurants!
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