5 London Restaurants I Enjoyed

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To tell you the truth, I’m not a “foodie.” I do love to eat and try out different cuisines. But only once or twice in every city do I purposely make reservations for specific restaurants. Most of the time, I enjoy sightseeing, museums, history, culture, and architecture more, so I have to make room for food in a very practical way.

Therefore, my criteria for a restaurant I would personally recommend to travelers is as follows:

  • Food taste and quality.
  • Location. It’s close to places that a tourist would visit.
  • Value for money. I don’t look for the cheapest meals, but when I leave a restaurant, I don’t like feeling that my money was wasted. Ideally, the service, quality, ambience, and serving sizes are adequate for the price paid.
  • Seating. I walk all day while traveling, so it’s nice to have a comfortable seat for meals.
  • Walk-in availability with minimal wait. The last thing I want to do while exploring a city is wait in line.

I got to eat at a lot of restaurants and cafes during my visit to London. I’m not saying these are the best restaurants in London; I’m no food critic and I was only there for a week. But from the restaurants I tried, these are the ones I most recommend based on the criteria above.

Note: I’m including Zomato’s price approximations for each restaurant. Upon reviewing our receipts, I found that they’re eerily accurate—within £2 of what we actually paid—except for Condesa.

Rasa Sayang

N- and I stayed at an Airbnb close to Chinatown. When I asked our host for restaurant recommendations, he mentioned Rasa Sayang, a Singaporean/Malaysian restaurant. This was fantastic; I never would have thought of looking for Singaporean food in London myself. Singaporean is my favorite cuisine in the world (and it overlaps with Malaysian because of the the two countries’ proximity and history).

We had dinner at Rasa Sayang on our first night in London. It was a crowded, noisy, no-frills kind of place—in other words, just the kind you might find in Singapore. Here’s what we ordered:

Curry laksa at Rasa Sayang in London

Curry laksa — Spicy noodle soup made with egg noodles, seafood, bean sprouts, bean curd puffs, hard-boiled egg, kangkong, and sambal. This didn’t have the strong coconut milk flavor I prefer in laksa, but it was a hearty, filling bowl of noodle soup nonetheless. Also it had bean curd puffs that absorbed the broth like a sponge and exploded in a delicious burst of flavor in your mouth. Can’t complain.

Char kuay teow at Rasa Sayang in London

Char kuay teow — Stir-fried flat rice noodles with egg, seafood, bean sprouts, and chives. Char kuay teow is the king of greasy noodle dishes (it’s usually stir-fried in pork fat and comes with pork lard croutons). This version was extremely satisfying in that regard.

Hainanese chicken rice — The star of the show (i.e. our dinner). Hainanese chicken rice is one of Singapore’s national dishes and my personal favorite. This one had slow-cooked chicken, bean sprouts, and coriander for the main dish; rice cooked in the chicken stock; and, of course, chicken soup. It also came with ginger sauce and chili garlic sauce. Unfortunately there was no sweet thick soy sauce to complete the usual trifecta. Still, the chicken was moist and tender, resting in a pool of very light soy sauce-infused chicken broth, steamed so perfectly its skin was sliding off. It was exactly as chicken rice should be, and getting to try this after so many years was wonderful.

The food was cheap, the servings large, the menu extensive. I wanted to order everything—and I would have eaten here again if we’d had the opportunity.

Nearby places — This restaurant is a 10-minute walk or less from the following: Chinatown, National Gallery, West End Theaters, Regent Street, Fortnum & Mason, Trafalgar Square, St. Martin-in-the-Fields

Rasa Sayang / Singaporean, Malaysian / Website / Yelp (£) / TripAdvisor / Zomato (£30 for two people)

Golden Dragon

We had dim sum for brunch at Golden Dragon. It was one of those large, lively, air-conditioned Chinese restaurants that big families love to go to. There were no small tables, so we got a big round one with plenty of room for all the dim sum we ordered.

They had a large dim sum selection—all the basics and then some. The dim sum was of good quality, delicious, and affordably priced.

Surrounded by boisterous families, pink tablecloths, and wooden wall panels decorated with Chinese art, I felt like I was back home at a family reunion. All in all, I definitely recommend this place for brunch. Come hungry.

Nearby places — This restaurant is a 10-minute walk or less from the following: Chinatown, National Gallery, West End Theaters, Regent Street, Fortnum & Mason, Trafalgar Square, St. Martin-in-the-Fields

Golden Dragon / Dim Sum, Chinese / Website / Yelp (££) / TripAdvisor / Zomato (£35 for two people)

Punjab

I wanted to try Dishoom for dinner, but it was full and had a long line outside. Ain’t nobody got time for that. This was our alternative: Punjab, an Indian restaurant in the same neighborhood. No regrets—we loved it.

This place was a house converted into a restaurant—it had a second floor and a weird layout more suited for residential purposes. The tables were very close together in the narrow room we dined in, but it was comfortable enough when we actually sat down.

Punjab Indian restaurant in London

We ordered specialties they’d highlighted in their menu. I don’t remember the dishes exactly, but they were stews/curries. One had chicken and one had lamb. We also had some papadam with chutney as appetizers. Everything was lip-smackingly delicious.

Fair warning: You’ll smell like Indian food afterward. It’s worth it.

Nearby places — This restaurant is a 10-minute walk or less from the following: British Museum, West End Theaters, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Covent Garden, Courtauld Gallery

Punjab / Indian / Website / Yelp (££) / TripAdvisor / Zomato (£35 for two people)

Condesa

We had brunch at Condesa. They had no other customers at that time, so I’d guess it’s more popular in the evening. The food was rather pricey for the serving sizes, but delicious overall.

Here’s what we had:

  • Pork belly with crispy shallots, fennel, and sweet chipotle
  • Slow-braised pig’s cheek in Pedro Ximenez (Spanish wine) tacos
  • Chipotle chicken and mozzarella quesadillas in blue corn tortillas
Pork belly with crispy shallots, fennel, and sweet chipotle at Condesa in London
Pork belly with crispy shallots, fennel, and sweet chipotle
Slow-braised pig’s cheek in Pedro Ximenez (Spanish wine) tacos at Condesa in London
Slow-braised pig’s cheek in Pedro Ximenez (Spanish wine) tacos
Chipotle chicken and mozzarella quesadillas in blue corn tortillas at Condesa in London
Chipotle chicken and mozzarella quesadillas in blue corn tortillas

I suggest visiting later in the day for the full tapas bar experience.

Nearby places — This restaurant is a 10-minute walk or less from the following: West End Theaters, Covent Garden, Courtauld Gallery, Trafalgar Square, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, National Gallery, Household Cavalry Museum

Condesa / Tapas Bar / Website / Yelp (££) / TripAdvisor / Zomato (£25 for two people with alcohol*)

* I disagree with this approximation; it was more like £25 for two without alcohol.

Brigade Bar & Bistro

We went here early for dinner, which was a great idea. The restaurant filled up quickly later in the evening.

Brigade Bar and Bistro in LondonBrigade Bar and Bistro in London

We ordered duck confit spring rolls, rump of lamb, and beer-battered fish and chips with tartar sauce and mushy peas. The fish was perfectly cooked: crispy outside and tender inside.

Duck confit spring rolls at Brigade in London
Duck confit spring rolls
Rump of lamb at Brigade in London
Rump of lamb
Beer-battered fish and chips with tartar sauce and mushy peas at Brigade in London
Beer-battered fish and chips with tartar sauce and mushy peas

This restaurant had excellent food, a fun vibe, and roomy seating (which is always a plus).

Nearby places — This restaurant is a 10-minute walk or less from the following: Tower Bridge, The Shard, Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge

Brigade Bar & Bistro / British, Bar / Website / Yelp (££) / TripAdvisor / Zomato (£60 for two people with alcohol)

All in all, dining out in London was a great experience. It’s a diverse multicultural city, and its restaurant options reflect that. In other words, don’t just go there to eat British food. There are many cuisines to enjoy.

In terms of cost, the prices ranged from affordable to expensive depending on the restaurant. The general ranges were on par with San Francisco’s when we visited. However, the British Pound is lower these days, so it’s a good time to visit and give the London food scene a try.

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