Food

From sushi to pad Thai: the best Asian restaurants in London

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Alessia Armenise
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Everybody is obsessed with Asian food – fragrant Pad Thai, fresh sushi, heartwarming ramen, spicy Sichuan-style duck or mouth-watering dan dan noodles – but where can you find the best in the business?

Here in the capital, we are blessed with some of the finest Asian food around.

From North to South, from okonomiyaki (a traditional Japanese pancake) to spicy Sichuan duck, here are the best Asian restaurants in London. 

North London

  • Hot Stone, Islington

    Hot Stone London

    Just a few minutes away from Angel station, Hot Stone is a little piece of Japan in the heart of North London.

    Their speciality? The traditional Japanese art of hot stone cooking. You will be presented with a boiling hot lava stone and your raw dish – tuna, salmon, sirloin steak and fancy Japanese wagyu beef – that you can cook at your liking.

    While you are waiting for your main to be ready, don’t forget to try some of the delicious sushi and sashimi made fresh in front of the customers by chef Padam Raj Rai. With 17 years of experience in Japanese cooking, having worked for the likes of Nobu and Zuma, you can trust him to deliver a great tasting experience. 

West London

  • Wild Rice, Soho

    Wild Rice Soho

    A heartwarming and delicious menu made of fragrant sharing plates, Wild Rice gives tapas an Asian makeover.

    Succulent Japanese aubergine, spicy tofu nuggets, traditional fried chicken or mouth-watering baked prawns - there is something tasty for everyone.

    The little bonus? A secret bar located on the bottom floor. The perfect place to end the night sipping on a Thai-inspired cocktail.

  • Sushi Samba, Covent Garden

    Sushi Samba Covent Garden

    At the heart of London’s busiest neighbourhood, Covent Garden, Sushi Samba is very much a locals favourite.

    Located on the top of the The Market Building, the restaurant offers al fresco dining on their terrace overlooking the buzzing square – the perfect set up to kick off the weekend, sipping addictive sake spritz and snacking on delicious bean tempura and crunchy nori crackers.

    On the food side, the Asian meets South American fusion cuisine promises an incredible experience. Make sure to try the mouth-watering mushroom gyoza, the crispy lobster taquitos or their incredible black cod.

  • Aqua Kyoto, West End

    Aqua Kyoto Covent Garden

    The warm days call for a terrace and Aqua Kyoto is here to deliver. Located in the centre of the London hustle and bustle, Regent Street, this sleek Japanese restaurant boasts an amazing terrace overlooking the city.

    A contemporary take to Tokyo’s Ginza district cuisine led by Executive Head Chef Paul Greening, the restaurant recently launched their ‘wabi sabi’ menu. The idea comes from the Japanese ‘wabi sabi’ concept of appreciating imperfection – concept transferred to the kitchen by using ‘imperfect’ ingredients, like ugly vegetables.

    Fragrant ramen, fresh sashimi and mouth-watering Japanese egg rice – the ingredients might be ‘ugly’, but the taste is definitely a 10/10. 

  • Akira, Kensington

    Hidden on the first floor of Japan House London, in the heart of Kensington, Akira is an exquisite hidden gem for Japanese food lovers.

    Executive Chef Shimizu Akira brings the diversity of Japanese cuisine – as well as the elegant style and impeccable service – to London. From the most-loved classics like the fragrant miso soup, fresh sashimi and crunchy tempura to a Japanese take on fish and chips, Akira’s menu is a culinary experience you should add to your wish list. 

  • Din Tai Fung, Covent Garden

    The latest addition to West London’s buzzing food scene, Din Tai Fung is the Chinese temple where dim sums are worshipped – and we are definitely converted.

    The menu is full of delicious comfort food, from the classic (but never boring) dan dan noodles or the heart-warming wonton soup, to Din Tai Fung’s signature dishes like the xiao long bao, freshly made dumplings filled with meat, fish or vegetables and fragrant broth. The lovely staff will prepare a ginger, vinegar and soy sauce mixture for you to dip your steaming hot dumplings in. They are full of flavour and dangerously addictive – after trying one, it’s impossible not to go back for more. 

  • Sakagura, Soho

    If you are after an Autumn-themes treat, Sakagura has got you covered.

    For the next few months, leaves will cover the bar and the outdoor terrace to honour the Japanese maple leaf season and transform the restaurant in a cosy autumnal retreat.

    To celebrate the new season, the restaurant (In partnership with Gekkeikan-Sake and KIRIN ICHIBAN) created 4 special cocktails using seasonal ingredients. Fellow matcha lovers, the Midori no Gishiki – a blend of matcha and condensed milk mixed with Kinobi gin and Belvedere vodka, topped with a touch of chestnut syrup – will become your new favourite drink.

    If you want something fresher to accompany the delicious sushi and crunchy tempura served at Sakagura, Aki – a refreshing Japanese version of a classic Pisco sour – will work dangerously well with your dinner. 

  • Hakkasan, Soho

    Tucked in a small street in the heart of Soho, hidden away from the crowd and the hustle and bustle of the city, Hakkasan is a lavish temple of taste.

    Going inside through a small door, the stairs lead to a sleek reception. In the restaurant, lights are dimmed and the atmosphere recalls a James Bond film: Hakkasan looks like the perfect spot to meet your nemesis.

    For the next few months, the restaurant is also getting a fashion makeover. Stilettos take over the space and flats are displayed under glass domes but also a delicious cocktail and a curated menu that celebrates the collaboration between the Chinese restaurant and the shoe designer Lucy Choi.

    The menu features Hakkasan’s most famous dishes, such as the delicious crispy duck salad, the classic dim sum and the juicy spicy prawns, topped off with an added touch of femininity thanks to a special cocktail and dessert created in collaboration with the famous designer. 

  • Zela, West End

    If you are craving a traditional Japanese supper, Zela is not the place for you. The restaurant’s menu, located in the heart of London’s West End and loved by the stars, is far from a classic Nipponic feast.

    A concoction made of fresh Mediterranean products and traditional Japanese cuisine techniques, Zela is the place to go if you like experimenting while having a great time.

    The cocktails are curated and scenographic and the food can be enjoyed Spanish tapas-style. Classic dishes like homemade Pekin duck gyoza are served next to inventive miso black cod gnocchi while a dj is getting the party started, hidden between the lavish greenery that invades the room. A great place to start off the weekend.

  • TOKii, Marylebone

    If you are searching for a secluded spot for a chilled night to catch up with friends or a romantic dinner, then TOKii is exactly what you need.

    Tucked away in a tranquil alley in Marylebone, housed is the newly opened hotel The Prince Akatoki, TOKii is still an unexplored London gem.

    The chef offers a great selection of Japanese tapas with a western twist. From the classics of Nippon cuisine such as crispy tempura, fresh sashimi and heart-warming miso soup to lamb cutlets, pumpkin and honey monkfish and ox cheek croquettes - a first-class trip around the world for your tastebuds. 

  • Rosa’s Thai Café Carnaby, Soho

    Rosa’s Thai Cafe Carnaby, Soho

    If you want a comforting, delicious and fuss-free dinner, Rosa’s café is your safe harbour in London.

    Their authentic – but, thank god, less spicy – Thai food is never disappointing. The chefs take the best recipes of the Thai tradition and tweak them using locally grown British crops.

    The perfect dinner at Rosa’s always includes crunchy fried spring rolls, a fresh papaya salad, a classic fragrant pad thai or a heart-warming massaman curry and, to end on a sweet note, the mango and sticky rice pudding. A gorgeously stress-free dinner. 

East London

  • Uchi, Hackney

    Uchi Hackney

    Uchi must be one of the coolest restaurants around Hackney. Divided into two rooms, one with a traditional Japanese table set up, reserved for big groups, and one with smaller tables, this Japanese restaurant keeps the tradition alive with a modern approach to food.

    Miso aubergine that melts in your mouth, sushi made with white or black rice filled with the freshest salmon, crunchy soft-shell crab but also broccoli tempura, asparagus or halloumi for a funky twist on the classics. An East Londoners favourite.

  • Pacific Social Club, Clapton

    Pacific Social Club

    Not your average Japanese restaurant, the Pacific Social Club is a real hub for Clapton’s locals.

    At Pacific Social Club, it’s not just about the delicious food – people go there for the atmosphere. Incredible cocktails, friendly service and great DJs make it the perfect place to spend a weekend with your friends. The drink to try? Their Japanese take to Britain’s favourite, the G&T.

    While you sip on your cocktail, don’t forget to order a side of avocado fries and a portion of juicy gyoza. But most of all, make sure you try their speciality: the Okonomiyaki or Japanese pancakes made of cabbage. The most delicious cabbage you will ever eat. 

  • Yanji Chinese-Korean BBQ, Bethnal Green

    Yanji Chinese-Korean BBQ

    A newly opened traditional Chinese-Korean restaurant that will satisfy your barbecue cravings.

    Their bestsellers are, of course, the beef and lamb skewers but if meat is not your thing, you will still be able to go home with a full stomach. King prawns, quail eggs, okra or delicious fish tofu can be grilled straight at the table which makes them perfect for sharing.

    On the main menu, make sure you try the mouth watering Korean bibimbap or, if you are not afraid of fiery food, the spicy hot pot with sausage, tofu, pork and noodles: delicious and heartwarming.

South London

  • Hannah, Southbank

    Hannah Restaurant London

    Between the chains, the tourist traps and the street food trucks, it seems difficult to find an authentic Japanese place in the heart of Southbank – that’s what makes Hannah a rarity of the big city.

    Just minutes from the BFI and the London Eye, Hannah is one of those gems that only Japanese-born living in London seems to know about. If you are after real Japanese food, that is not California rolls and tempura, this is definitely the place to visit. 

  • Hutong, Southwark

    Hutong The Shard

    Located on the 33rd floor of The Shard, overlooking the river Thames and the whole of London, a dinner at Hutong is definitely special.

    Before treating yourself to their amazing Northern Chinese cuisine, you must try their cocktail bar and the incredible creations inspired by Chinese medicine. Try the Chinese lantern for an Asian take to the classic Italian Spritz or the Iron Goddess of Mercy for a funky Pisco Sour – so your tastebuds can get adjusted to the intense flavours you are about the experience.

    Onto the food. A must-try dish is the roasted Peking Duck, that comes to the table twice: first, the duck is served with Chinese pancakes while a duck sauté with greens follows to complete the course. Also not to be missed are their spicy Sichuan-style aubergine tempura and the juicy dumplings. The food is so good you will want to devour the whole menu.  

Main image: Unsplash

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Alessia Armenise

Alessia Armenise is picture editor of Stylist and Stylist.co.uk. In her free time you'll find her tasting vegan street food around east London and sharing her (many) opinions on London Fields Radio. Instagram

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