I love Chinatown – it has Asian supermarkets which loyally contain my instant noodles and Hello Panda biscuits. It also boasts rows of Chinese restaurants with names as stereotypical you can get.
Loon Tao Chinese Restaurant (Loon Tao = Dragon Island)
It had the shortest queue among most restaurants on a Saturday evening, when my company and I were wandering around Chinatown hoping to get some decent Chinese food for dinner.
The interiors were nothing much – hanging red lanterns and random oriental posters up on the wall – it was a very simple place. I seemed to be the food consultant of the evening, explaining that, yes, porridge was indeed savoury, er yes I guess it's sort of like rice pudding, and that Singapore noodles is a phony dish. The latter is fried vermicelli noodles with curry powder, which is virtually served no where in Singapore. This dish is like improvised mi-fen with the wrong ingredients within reach of the chef. It is a legit, edible and tasty dish, though. I got a simple beef porridge (a.k.a 'congee') with peanuts which tasted good and authentic, although no porridge can ever surpass my mum's home-made beef porridge.
The restaurant served the staple deep-fried appetizers such as spring rolls and prawn toast, which were not too popular in Southeast-Asian menus.
Overall, the food was tasty and not a bad quality, with reasonable prices and lots of helpful staff walking around. We were served free slices of really good, juicy orange after the meal. Loon Tao is definitely a reliable place to go in Chinatown.
31 Gerrard Street
The Dim Sum in Dumplings' Legend is of high standards for a Chinese restaurant in Europe. The famous pork soup dumplings (£6 for 8 dumplings) were good, but could have been served hotter, like most of the dishes I had. The Pork buns (3 for £2.50) and crystal prawn dumplings (8 for £6) were good. What I think was Fried Vermicelli Noodles & Hofen with mixed seafood and scrambled eggs had a few hard, uncooked bits, and the sauce was over-gooey – that dish did not impress me. Otherwise, Dumplings' Legend is a great place to go for acceptable-quality dim sum with a wide variety of dishes.
15-16 Gerrard Street
Phone: (020) 7494 1200
Nearest Tube Station: Leicester Square