Soho foodie guide: where to eat and drink
Discover our favourite places to eat in and drink in the buzzy central London neighbourhood, from Taiwanese fine dining to pasta joints and intimate cocktail bars
Here are our favourite Soho restaurants. The best foodie spots include Neil Rankin’s barbecue restaurant Temper, afternoon tea at The Ham Yard Hotel, sticky pork buns at Bao and champagne at the press of a button at Bob Bob Ricard.
Check out our ideas for eating and drinking in Soho from Brewer Street to St Anne's Court, from Old Compton Street to Chinatown (here are the best restaurants in Chinatown).
Here are our top places to eat and drink in Soho...
Bubala, Poland Street – for Middle Eastern small plates
The second spot from Marc Summers (Berber & Q) and Helen Graham (Palomar) is decked out in the same earthy-chic style as the original Spitalfields restaurant. Gather round the table at the back to get a slice of action from the open kitchen and peruse jars of ferments and infusions that make their way into dishes and cocktails. Peanut-infused bourbon is stirred with chocolate bitters for a warming old fashioned, blood orange syrup is shaken up with tequila in a rose petal and Persian salt-rimmed margarita, and citrus syrups are topped up with sparkling water and fresh herbs in the non-alcoholic gazoz options.
To start, order fresh laffa flatbread to dip into silky baba ganoush, followed by charcoaled leek swirl skewers and corn ribs, slathered in a punchy chipotle, Aleppo chilli, black garlic and cumin sauce. Lip-smacking mains include buttery hispi cabbage coated in a dried orange, nori and sesame crumb, and deep-fried, brined cauliflower served with caramelised spiced spinach bkeila. Potato latkes are given a modern twist, pressed with garlic butter into stacks and fried to order, and fresh vesuvio tomatoes and mango are soaked in a sweet and tangy tamarind and date syrup dressing. Finish with coconut and tahini fudge, subtly laced with blood orange and coated in crackly sesame seeds. bubala.co.uk/soho
KILN, Brewer Street – for Thai food
Ben Chapman’s latest outpost has all the ingredients for yet another frustratingly brilliant Soho restaurant – small, no-reservation policy, sterling reviews. But, it’s worth any queue. Grab a spot at the pass, where the flames of the charcoal fires will keep you as warm as the spices from the confidently succinct, regional Thai menu. As well as delivering on atmosphere, Kiln actually offers the lesser-known and ever rarer phenomenon of good value in London. Aged lamb skewers, delicately fragrant with cumin and Szechuan pepper and cranked-up in flavour with the lick of those flames, are £2.90 for two. A delicious main of clay-pot baked glass noodles with Tamworth pork belly and brown crabmeat, which comes with an intense, zingy herb dip on the side, is a highlight. We’re warned about the heat of the roasted long pepper and Tamworth pork shoulder curry but its tingle was just the right side of numbing, mellow and spicy sweet. Wild mushroom salad seasoned with soy and lime, inspired by the region of Isaan, in the northeast of Thailand, was precisely the sort of plate that the term umami was coined for. kilnsoho.com
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Bébé Bob, Golden Square – for rotisserie chicken and champagne
Bébé Bob is younger sibling to Bob Bob Ricard (of champagne button fame), so high glamour is the name of the game. Ultra-comfortable and gorgeous to look at, the venue is a clever backdrop to what is essentially a menu centred around roast chicken (Vendée or Landes). But, what roast chicken. Rotisseried and served with roast potatoes (chicken fat, of course) and/or chips, and a salad, if you like. Super-luxe starters include three types of caviar or VSOP prawn cocktail, and desserts offer an option of lemon-infused vodka served at -18C, or a perfectly formed paris-brest. Drink champagne, or choose a wine, of which there are a commendable amount served by the glass. bebebob.com
Nessa, Brewer Street – for a modern, seasonal menu
Nessa is a sophisticated bistro situated right in the bustle of London’s Soho. Enter the striking horseshoe bar and you’ll see a range of UK producers on display, including no- or low-alcohol options – as well as the option to order snacks and small plates. The space has been fully renovated with the style of the neo-baroque building in mind – it’s stylish with lots of marble, oak and brass fixtures, and fittings on the art-lined walls. In the dining room, you’ll find booths and an open kitchen, where Executive Chef Tom Cenci (formerly of Loyal Tavern and Duck & Waffle) has devised a menu of British influences with global flavours, focusing on seasonality. The ‘bread & snacks’ include the BBQ spiced crisps, and cheese and onion croquettes with a grape mustard mayo. Small plates range from aged beef tartare with beef fat and charred sourdough, to a deeply pleasing, Insta-friendly black pudding brioche with brown butter noisette, and Nessa’s signature celeriac carbonara with pancetta, confit egg and winter truffle. There are sharing plates on offer, too – a whole roast chicken with fries and gravy or rib of beef on gravy-soaked bread. Desserts lean towards the classics: baked alaska, jam roly-poly, and the ‘Nessabockerglory,’ all given an indulgent, modern, twist. nessasoho.com
Kricket, Denman Street – for Indian small plates
Contemporary and cool, Kricket specialises in Indian small plates using local vegetables along with fish and meat sourced within the British Isles. Expect to queue at these no-reservations restaurants but dishes like samphire pakoras and Keralan fried chicken are more than worth the wait. We have the recipe for Kricket's kichri. Kedgeree as we know it was an adaptation of the original recipe for kichri, which consists of rice and lentils. You can use poached eggs rather than raw egg yolks, if you like.
NOPI – for Ottolenghi's vibrant small plates
When Yotam Ottolenghi opened NOPI in 2011, it was quite a departure from the more casual cafés he was known for, and reviews commented as much on the glamorous mirrored loos, marble floors and burnished light fittings as the quality of its Med-meets-Middle-Eastern menu. The small plates tick all of the Ottolenghi boxes; fresh, vibrant, veg-rich dishes, including a Szechuan tingle from char sui cauliflower, grilled aubergine adorned with pomegranate, black garlic and pine nuts and chargrilled tenderstem broccolini tossed in a citrusy sesame sauce. Crisp-fried sea bass is lifted with a spicy saag aloo, while Georgian tkemali plum sauce lends a sweet-and-sour umami hit to the grilled pork belly. Finish with the kataifi; an elegant muddle of pistachio, rose, caramelised pistachios, rose, crème fraîche and crisp kataifi pastry strands. There’s a more casual arrangement downstairs, where diners share a large farmhouse-style table that offers a front row seat to the open kitchen. ottolenghi.co.uk
Speedboat Bar, Chinatown – for fiery Thai cuisine
Despite London having possibly the best nightlife in the UK, it feels rare to get a spot like Speedboat Bar. Open until late on the weekend (you can get your fill of fiery cuisine and party vibes until 1am), this Thai canteen in Chinatown, brought to you by Plaza Khao Gaeng’s Luke Farrell, has décor almost as bombastic as the flavours. Once you’re done looking at the framed pics of the Thai royal family or playing a game of pool, get your tongue tingling with a menu that would satisfy any chilli fanatic. And don’t forget to cool down after with a creamy cocktail or a tower of beer. speedboatbar.co.uk
Maresco, Berwick Street – for fish-focussed, modern tapas
Following successful openings in Crouch End and Stoke Newington, the team behind local favourites Bar Esteban and Escocesa has ventured into central London with this intimate 48-cover space in the heart of Soho. Billed as a modern tapas bar (with a more formal dining room on the basement floor), expect a seafood-focussed menu at Maresco, featuring top-quality Scottish produce served with Spanish flair and (a lot) of Spanish wine. maresco.co.uk
Manzi’s, Bateman's Buildings – for fish and seafood dishes
Latest off the block from the Wolseley Hospitality Group, Manzi’s is as glamorous as nautical comes. Set over two floors and with bright, airy blue and white interiors, this is a place of comfort and attention to detail. Head chef Christian Turner’s menu encompasses a beautifully executed monkfish wellington and cioppino fish stew, as well as oysters and dressed crab, Galician-style octopus, fish finger sandwiches and lobster rolls. Non-fish dishes are also available, including leeks mimosa and devilled egg, and roast Landes chicken. manzis.co.uk
Chung’dam, Greek Street – for modern Korean cooking
Named after the bustling Cheongdam-dong district in Seoul, Chung’dam is a contemporary Korean restaurant combining modern Korean cooking with traditional cooking techniques, paired with the finest ingredients in a sleek and refined space that’s designed to facilitate an interactive dining experience taking you on a journey through all your senses. With an impressive cocktail list that features rice wine and soju alongside a global wine list, Chung’dam attempts to live up to the vibrant reputation of its namesake. chungdam.co.uk
The Seafood Bar, Dean Street – for quality, sustainably sourced seafood
Already a raging success in the Netherlands because of its commitment to serving quality, sustainably sourced seafood at a reasonable price, this is the first international branch to open in London on Dean Street, Soho. The restaurant occupies the ground floor of a Georgian townhouse and the grand dimensions, pale wood and white interior and high ceilings give the space a luxurious but airy feel. The menu is comprehensive with several different sections covering hot and cold starters, crustaceans, oysters, fruit de mer platters, mussels, mixed seafood grills, caviar and even fish and chips. We almost go for the full bells-and-whistles giant double-decker fruit de mer platter that every table seems to be ordering, but our waiter after a hunger check-in advises a smaller platter, plus a couple of hot starters, which are both winners; sweet, juicy clams in a delicate wine and garlic sauce, and plump creamy, gratinated scallops in the shell. Our fruit de mer platter is a shellfish-lover's dream with some more unusual offerings such as razor clams, periwinkles and whole brown shrimp alongside mussels, cockles, clams, prawns, crab, seaweed salad and oysters. Everything is served simply on ice with lemon and mayo allowing the freshness and quality of the seafood to shine through – a perfect pairing with a crisp glass of Grüner Veltliner. theseafoodbar.com
Yeni, Beak Street — for wood-fired modern Turkish food
With most dishes at Yeni given the funk of fermentation or seasoned with smoke, this is food that’s big on flavour but handled with enough respect to let the quality of the ingredients shine. The open fire kitchen is centre stage in the tall-ceilinged room, start with a G and house-made T (tonic meets kombucha) then it’s all about choosing sharing plates for the table or letting the chef choose for you with a daily changing tasting menu. About half the menu is creatively vegetarian – beetroot is almost sticky from being slow braised in olive oil then punctuated with sour cherries, salty galomizithra cheese and a crunch of hazelnuts. Choose a filling of either beef or dried aubergine for the Turkish manti dumplings which come in a broth made so complex and creamy from using double-fermented yogurt that you’ll be ordering more wood-fired puffy tava bread to mop the bowl clean with. yeni.london
Humble Chicken, Frith Street — for nose-to-tail yakitori and modern cocktails
Humble Chicken’ name gets straight to the point. This intimate Soho restaurant, the first from chef Angelo Sato — ormerly head chef of Michelin-starred Restaurant Story — is all about grilling every part of the bird (from gizzard to thighs) over binchotan charcoal (a high-quality charcoal used in Japanese cooking). Start with a selection of refined snacks, including a delicate, umami miso foie gras tart and creamy freshly made tofu with tangy kimchi, before diving into the yakitori menu with gusto. Skewers — smoky, juicy, delicious — arrive speedily from the open kitchen, with highlights including meatball with salty tare sauce and egg yolk for dipping, rib with spicy miso and chives, and (our favourite) absurdly tender chicken oysters with smoked garlic and ponzu. Larger plates include crispy chicken leg with rice, and save room for dainty desserts such as deconstructed strawberry cheesecake, and purin, a Japanese dessert akin to a creme caramel, and just as delicious.
There’s Asahi on draft and a small selection of sakes, wines and Japanese whiskies, but it’s the cocktails that deserve most attention on the drinks list, including a tangily fruity lychee martini; a silky Nikka whisky, coconut milk and oolong highball, and a sultry miso and coffee old fashioned. humblechickenuk.com
Imad’s Syrian Kitchen, Kingly Court — for Syrian sharing plates
Imad Alarnab’s story is a remarkable one. After spending years as a successful restaurateur in Damascus, his businesses were destroyed by the war, and he was forced to flee the country for safety. Shortly after arriving in London in 2015, he began cooking Syrian food at supper clubs and pop-ups (at which he raised thousands of pounds for refugee charity, Choose Love), before crowdfunding for his own permanent restaurant. Located on the top floor of Soho’s Kingly Court, the restaurant has the feel of a family-run taverna, with white walls accented by bright blue windows and tiles, dotted with heart-warming photographs from Imad’s past. As for Imad’s food, its every bit as uplifting as his story. Every dish we tried from his sharing-style menu of Syrian dishes was a hit, from the super-crisp, perfectly seasoned falafel with lightly pickled, sumac-dusted red onions, to the pool of chickpea-topped hummus with hot, fluffy pittas for dunking. Other highlights include the fattet macdous – a dish of silky soft baby aubergines filled with cumin-spiced minced lamb, served with tahini, crispy pittas, pine nuts, herbs, and juicy pops of pomegranate – and the shish tawook, which combines beautifully tender, charred chicken with homemade paprika crisps, tomato mayo and pitta. imadssyriankitchen.co.uk
The Palomar, Rupert Street — for Israeli small plates
The term small but mighty applies perfectly to The Palomar. The greeting is warm, the music lively, the cocktails potent and the wait to be seated at the counter a long one if you haven’t booked ahead. And wait you should, as eating at the bar is where the party’s at. Highlights of head chef Omri McNabb’s Israeli small-plates sharing menu include the spiced lamb cutlets featured, as well as crab kofta and wild seabass sashimi. For a quieter evening, take a seat at one of a handful of cosy tables in the back. For a great-value introduction to The Palomar, pop in for lunch Monday-Friday and order the three-course set menu for £24. thepalomar.co.uk
Block Soho, St Anne's Court — for quality meat cooked over coal
Block Soho is a new kid on the block recently opening on the intimate St Anne’s Court in the heart of Soho. Billed as a “reimagined chophouse for a new generation”, there is unsurprisingly a focus on quality cuts of meat cooked over coal. However, equal attention has been paid to the seafood and shellfish offerings. Expect dishes such as smoked pulled pork with sourdough toast and apple gravy, swordfish chop with samphire butter and fresh shellfish platters, as well as classic steaks sold by weight. There will also be Sunday roasts and a breakfast menu with a “hangover” burger, as well as a daily “Cocktails & Croquettes” happy hour. With its industrial décor, an abundant cocktail menu and a wine list from small producers, Block Soho is looking to make its mark in the heart of the city, and bring a bit of fun to tradition. blocksoho.com
Ino — for playful riffs on classic Greek dishes
Billing itself as a gastrobar, this compact venue has two snug, buzzy counters upstairs and some (slightly) calmer seats below and outside. Take a place at the bar to watch the action at the grill and get instruction on how to swipe a finger of pitta bread through the taramas topped with a slow-cooked egg yolk and bottarga without mixing it first. Like the taramas, the rest of the dishes are modern, playful riffs on classics — ceviche is dressed with avgolemono, souvlaki made from Iberico presa and octopus makes its way into a taco.
Drinks include a mastiha (a mastic liqueur) G&T with a hint of resin, an excellent selection of Greek wines and a range of barrel-aged cocktails. Don’t leave without trying the Greek salad, a juicy mix of tomatoes, olives and capers topped with chunks of 12-month barrel-aged feta. inogastrobar.com
Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza, Wardour Street — for impeccable pizzas in laidback surroundings
London is no stranger to a good pizza — from Yard Sale to Homeslice, Theo’s, Vicoli dio Napoli and Voodoo Ray’s (and many more), there’s stiff competition for who serves the best slice in town. Rudy’s latest outpost in Soho (they have pizzerias scattered across the north of England, including Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Leeds) makes a worthy addition to the scene.
Start with an aperitivo of Campari and soda, which arrives premixed in a dinky little bottle alongside a bowl of salted crisps for snacking, before moving onto generous sharing platters loaded with deli treats and house-baked bread.
Pizza toppings are crowd-pleasing, from parmigiana with roasted aubergine to spicy calabrese with ‘nduja sausage and cinghiale with wild boar salami. Our lavishly topped capricciosa with creamy fior de latte, prosciutto, mushrooms, Kalamata olives and artichoke hearts ticked all the boxes, but it was the base that really impressed — well-flavoured and pillowy while still being satisfyingly chewy. All of Rudy’s pizzas — baked daily using 24-hour fermented dough — are made by trained and accredited pizzaiolos and it shows. rudyspizza.co.uk/soho/
Sucre, Great Marlborough Street — for South American classics
There’s a lot to take in at Sucre: huge chandeliers made from glass decanters, a vast open kitchen with chefs cooking over charcoal, a very lively soundtrack and excellent cocktail lounge. But, nothing detracts from the food, centred around ‘fire cooking’. On the snacks and small plates menu, South American classics like empanada (cheesy pasty-shaped pastries) and scallop tiradito (raw) with jalapeño rub along with white beans with morcilla and romesco, and burnt aubergine with lemon and herbs. Monkfish tail cooked on charcoal with a punchy XO sauce and black beans, and veal ossobuco with saffron risotto are the main course highlights, along with black squid fideu (a kind of paella made with skinny pasta instead of rice). The peach and melon pudding sounds simple, but looks spectacular, and the must-try cocktail is the Campari di Spuma, made with Campari, egg white and gin. sucrerestaurant.com
Bar Termini, Old Compton Street – for negronis and espresso
Fifties-style Italian café-bar Bar Termini is known for its pre-bottled negronis, but pop in during the day to sip an espresso at the marble-topped counter or recline on a green-leather banquette with a bicerin espresso, stirred up with thick chocolate and foamed milk.
Dishoom, Kingly Street – for Indian food
Breakfasts at Dishoom, the small chain of Bombay-café-inspired restaurants, have won a cult following. Not least for the bacon naan rolls – crisp bacon wrapped in tandoor-charred naan with a dollop of chilli tomato jam and cream cheese. Pair with a breakfast lassi or house chai. Here are our favourite Indian restaurants in London.
Lina Stores deli, Brewer Street – for Italian produce
Pretty Italian deli Lina Stores has been a destination for local foodies since 1944. The mint-tiled corner store is packed with anything from metre-long pasta frills to pretty bottles of passata – perfect for stocking fillers. There’s also a fresh pasta bar and a counter piled high with ’nduja, finocchiona and gorgonzola.
Lina Stores restaurant, Greek Street – for pasta
Head chef Masha Rener has kept the menu simple and seemingly authentic at the Italian deli's first restaurant opening, with every ingredient hailing directly from Italy – from bright and buttery Cerignola olives right down to the sugar used in exemplary Italian desserts and cakes. Fresh pasta, handmade an hour before service, is given pride of place, served as the main event rather than traditional pre-main primi. Bright yellow strands of pappardelle soak up light, gamey rabbit ragu, perfectly formed gnocchi is brightened up with popping peas, and a vibrant mint and courgette mixture is stuffed into little tortellini parcels. Pici alla norcina is the highlight, though – springy worms of pasta in a creamy, nutty sauce of porcini mushroom and Norcia sausage (often celebrated as the best in Italy). The antipasti menu includes silky aubergine fritters in a crunchy golden shell, crisp radicchio salad with anchovy dressing, and little bowls of almost-too-pretty-to-eat baby artichoke hearts. Creamy lemon sorbet refreshes after so many comforting carbs, the little half-lemon bowl a nostalgic nod to Italian holidays, and is served with a shot of limoncello to send you merrily on your way.
Duck Soup, Dean Street – for date night
For a post-shopping drink or two, head to wine bar and restaurant Duck Soup. It’s pared-back but cosy, and super friendly. Its range of natural and biodynamic wines, served by the glass, changes weekly, as does the short menu of European dishes chalked up on a board. You can even browse the in-house vinyl collection and choose your own soundtrack. ducksoupsoho.co.uk
Blacklock, Great Windmill Street – for a chophouse
Go for the ‘all in’ option at cool and casual restaurant Blacklock and you’ll be faced with pre-chop bites (duck rillettes, kimchi, pickle) followed by huge sharing platters of skinny chops (including short rib beef, lamb cutlets and pork loin) plus chargrilled flatbreads to soak up the juices. The £5 cocktails are fab, too. theblacklock.com
Swift, Old Compton Street – for cocktails
From the team behind Nightjar and Oriole, Swift is a classy spot that covers all your cocktail needs. Stand at the slick upstairs bar for a pre-theatre aperitivo (we love the refreshing lemon sorbet, prosecco and Italicus sgroppino) or sink into a sofa in the basement for your whisky of choice from an extensive list.
Koya Soho, Frith Street – for noodles
Duck through the curtains at Koya Bar and you’re transported straight to Tokyo. A wooden counter spans the narrow space: punters huddle over bowls of springy udon noodles on one side, while chefs add eggs to breakfast bowls, and slip noodles, prawn tempura, tofu and miso pork into hot broth on the other. koyabar.co.uk
Daroco, Manette Street – for great Italian food in glitzy surroundings
Pizza isn’t hard to come by in Soho, but truly great pizza is more elusive. Daroco’s menu of elevated Italian dishes features amped-up classics like tonnato, arancini and tiramisu, but it’s the pizza menu that really shines. The super-soft, charred crust (less ‘crust’, more a pillow) is a masterclass in dough work, while toppings are simple but just that little bit extra – we had the “mortadelight” with mortadella, Stracciatella and pistachio cream. Pasta dishes are luxurious and included paccheri with lobster bisque and pappardelle with venison Genovese. Our chocolate mousse pudding was rich and finished with sea salt and olive oil, while the cannoli was served deconstructed with serious flourish. Speaking of flourish, the Daroco aesthetic is fun and just a little ostentatious, with a buzzy open kitchen, plenty of mirrors and velvet – a hidden gem feel and a very memorable pizza oven covered in blue ceramic butterfly frieze. In short, it’s the place to go if you want to eat a really huge, delicious pizza but feel a bit extra while you’re doing it. daroco.com
Robata, Old Compton Street – for Japanese robata grill cooking
Located on Old Compton Street in the heart of Soho, Sonny Huang’s Robata restaurant specialises in robata grill cooking, a Japanese tradition that was first introduced by ancient fishermen who took boxes of hot coals with them on their boats to cook the food that they gathered from their day’s catch. The menu is broken down into five sections – small plates, raw and sushi, bao buns, robata skewers and robata large – and diners are encouraged to share dishes. Stand-out plates include miso aubergine topped with pickled shimiji mushroom and red chilli; sweet soy glaze and spring onion pork belly skewers; and Chilean wagyu smoked and cooked over burning hay. Robata also serves an extensive selection of sake and sake-based cocktails including the Umetini (Roku gin, umeshu plum sake and orange bitters). Head chef Charles Lee worked in a number of Michelin-starred restaurants during his career before arriving at Robata, and his menu shows the diversity of Japan’s food, highlighting traditional cooking techniques and contemporary flavours, along with using high-end British produce.robata.co.uk
Berenjak, Romilly Street – for Iranian food
This is a buzzy casual restaurant and tables are a tight squeeze. Out front, the open kitchen spills out its sights, sounds and smells onto the counter diners – there’s a flaming tandoor (oven), mangal barbecue, and vertical rotisserie. The menu at Berenjak is broken down into mazeh that are designed to be mopped up with house-made flatbreads – either taftoon, seeded sourdough, baked in the clay tandoor, or whole wheat sangak cooked on hot pebbles – kababs and khoresht (stews), and sides, including various pickles, rice and beans. It’s hard not to order everything but we’re reliably informed by our enthused German waitress that jigar (mangal-grilled calves liver) is a good place to start. She was right, as were all her recommendations. Served on soft and blistered lavash bread with mellow sliced red onion, a wedge of lemon to squeeze over, and shredded mint, the offal was burnished, buttery and blushing.
Hoppers, Frith Street – for Sri Lankan dishes
Named after the lacy, bowl-shaped pancakes that are a staple of Sri Lanka, Hoppers has quickly established itself as one of London’s hippest hangouts. From the can-do-no-wrong team behind Michelin-starred Gymkhana, Hoppers references the food of southern India and Sri Lanka. There’s a succinct menu starring traditional hoppers: light fermented rice and lentil pancake bowls, with a softly steamed egg and a selection of confidently spiced karis.Load up on the ‘short eats’, though. Mutton rolls are like crunchy cigars – with a golden crumb, shredded gamey meat and lightly spiced tomato chutney. Bone marrow is so seductively sauced that you would be forgiven for refusing to share. The best, perhaps, are buttered devilled shrimps: juicy and fiery. There a fab and refreshing cocktails also.hopperslondon.com
Try our egg hoppers recipe here…
Bao, Lexington Street – for Taiwanese buns
Bao began life as a tiny bar in Hackney, selling pillowy soft ‘baos’ (steamed milk buns) stuffed with various fillings. Following its success, the team opened a restaurant in Soho. Husband and wife team, Shing Tat Chung and Erchen Chang, alongside Shing’s sister Wai Ting Chung are behind the venture, and it was the trio’s travels across Asia that inspired the menu.Their signature bao take centre stage – try classic braised pork and panko-crumbed daikon radish bao – but there’s also xiao chi (small eats) on offer. As for drinks, expect hot oolong and cold foam tea, plus cider, sake and whisky. It’s a cosy space with shelves lined with homemade pickles – including golden kimchi.
Temper, Broadwick Street – for BBQ
Blink and you’ll miss Neil Rankin’s new barbecue restaurant in London’s Soho. From ground level it looks like just another wine bar, but head underground and it’s a dark den of mezcal, smoke, meat and, er, Pickled Onion Monster Munch.
Temper is cavernous, with booths and tables filling every corner, but if you want a piece of the real action, grab a counter seat around the open kitchen where tacos are hand-pressed, flatbreads are blistered, and whole animals are butchered and roasted over glowing coals. It’s not for the squeamish but this waste-little, love-food attitude did it for us. (As did the surprisingly ergonomic bar stools and Irn Bru spritzes and mezcal negronis).
Click here to read our full review of Temper, Soho
Baozilnn, Romilly Street – for Chinese food
Baozilnn takes it culinary cues from all corners of China, from a roster of hearty northern street-food dishes to dim sum with Sichuanese and Hunanese accents. Set over three floors, kitschy Mao-era propaganda posters adorn black walls, and diners sit on red leather chairs and benches. Service is brisk and efficient.
Expect plenty of jiaozi (dumplings) on the menu, served plain, slathered with chilli sauce or floating in a broth, as well as lots of dim sum and grilled dishes, from meat and fish skewers to sea bream in XO sauce and red-braised pork.
Head chef Francis Law is a dim sum expert and this part of our meal proved to be the highlight. Watercress prawn dumplings – the pastry tinged bright yellow with turmeric – were delicately made, the peppery watercress matching the subtle astringency of the turmeric. Beetroot and prawn dumplings, prettily pink, were also well balanced, the earthiness of the vegetable a faint back note that didn’t overwhelm the crustacean. Our favourite, though, was a fat, pork-filled bao zi lurking in its own lake of spicy, deeply savoury hot and sour broth. Chengdu dumplings were impeccable, silky and generously drizzled in chilli oil, while our skewers – cumin lamb and grilled king prawn – could have been a little more tender. Dan dan noodles lacked the requisite fiery heat.
There’s a quirky choice of beers on the menu (from Belgian to Chinese), a globe-trotting selection of wines and a selection of baijius, rice wines and sakes.
Pastaio, Ganton Street – for pasta
Chef Stevie Parle’s latest venture brings handmade pasta and affordable wines to Soho. The agnoli was a triumph of pared-back cooking; perfectly cooked and crafted pasta, a generous game filling and a seriously moreish sage-butter sauce.
The Good Egg, Kingly Court – for brunch
After the success of their first site in Stoke Newington, The Good Egg crowd-funded to their second site in Soho’s Kingly Court. This café-cum-restaurant, inspired by the Jewish café-culture of Montreal, serves all-day brunch Monday to Sunday. Take a seat on one of the dark-teal wooden chairs and watch chefs at work behind the metal counter. Walls are covered in jars of pickles and bottles of wine and blackboards list names of the meat, fish and veg producers that feature on the menu.
Mr Ji, Old Compton Street — for Taiwanese chicken, small plates and cocktail twists
This small Soho joint is, as it states on the brushed concrete walls, ‘a modern Asian eatery, all about chicken, small eats and cocktails’. Bottles of Taiwanese whisky sit on the minimalist shelves above the counter bar, while hanging plants juxtapose industrial piping at the back. Share a few small plates to start — unusual daikon cake drizzled with confit garlic soy paste, panko-crusted chicken hearts with a mild katsu curry sauce, and a deep-fried prawn toast brick topped with parmesan fluff that melts into a creamy sweetcorn, prawn and bechamel filling. There are four main chicken dishes to choose from, accompanied by fresh and zingy 24-hour fermented golden kimchi. Traditional Taiwanese tapioca-fried chicken breast is served with scissors to cut into manageable pieces as well as piccalilli mayo to offset the chilli heat. Tender chicken nuggets are slathered in a crispy chilli sauce, and silky poached soy chicken is livened up with a ginger and spring onion dip.
Cocktails provide Taiwanese spins on the classics; the refreshing spritz uses homemade grapefruit and hawthorn cordial to add an Aperol-orange hue, mezcal gives the salted plum negroni a smoky edge, and an umami-packed rum, sherry and fermented rice martini is served pre-bottled direct from the freezer. Mrji.co.uk
Korean Dinner Party, Kingly Court —for Korean flavours and sharing snacks
Head to the top of Kingly Court in Soho to discover this this lively opening inspired by Korean flavours and LA’s Mexican food scene, with menus designed by prolific chef duo Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng of Tata Eatery, and craft sake from London’ only sake brewery, Peckham’s Kanpai. Inside, expect stripped-back interiors with concrete walls, neon lighting and Korean wall art. An eclectic menu covers everything from Korean corn dogs to tacos and kimchi pancakes. There are larger dishes on offer — go for the Korean tacos with 48-hour slow-cooked beef short rib, ssamjang, slae and homemade wrappers — but it’s the sharing snacks and cocktails that especially impress. Bacon mochi, fudgy chewy rice cakes wrapped in caramelised bacon with gochujang caramel are succulently umami, while ‘chikin’ turns out to be a mound of tender nuggets and rice sticks decadently blanketed in garlic cream and parmesan. The drinks list features fresh twists on classic drinks, such as a plum Americano made with Korean plum wine and Kanpai umeshu. We tried the pleasingly fiery Michelada Boilermaker — spiced Korean beer served with a shot of sake alongside — and the sultry and silky burnt rice old fashioned to finish. koreandinnerparty.com
Bob Bob Ricard, Upper James Street – for an impressive dinner
Bob Bob Ricard is a Russian-inspired restaurant in Soho that exudes luxury, with ornate interiors loosely based on the Orient Express (train-carriage style booths, brass rails and coat racks), slick service and iconic ‘press for Champagne’ buttons. It’s all about excess, with hearty portions, theatrical presentation and copious amounts of fizz. The menu focuses on English classics, with Russian influences highlighted in pink (think plenty of truffle, shots of -18 degree vodka and caviar). Highlights include traditional truffled potato dumplings served with crispy onions and shimeji mushrooms, puff-pastry-topped fish pie with chunky pieces of smoked haddock, sole and cod and the perfectly pink 28-day aged Scotch beef fillet wellington accompanied by silky truffled mash. Chocolate Glory’ is a showstopping dessert or keep things lighter with a zesty trio of lime, lemon and pink grapefruit sorbets served with Platinum vodka. bobbobricard.com
Ham Yard Hotel, Ham Yard – for afternoon tea
Expect statement artwork and decor from designer and co-owner Kit Kemp and whacky twists on sweet savoury tea treats. Ham Yard Hotel’s ethos matches its bold name; expect bags of character, typical of all Firmdale Hotels, from co-owner Kit Kemp’s bright and colourful interiors, with patterned textiles, unique finds such as reclaimed African prints and plenty of original artwork.
L’escargot, Greek Street – for a Soho institution
L’escargot was big news in the 80s and is somewhat of a Soho institution but it’s sparkle faded over the years. Now, after a refurb and with a new brunch menu, it’s worth putting on your radar once again. The 280-year-old town house is also a member’s club, and it shows in this room: dark wood and comfortable, red velvet-covered chairs, it hasn’t lost the French bistro charm.
The best Soho hotels
Kettner’s first opened on Romilly Street, in Piccadilly, in 1867. It was one of London’s first French brasseries, and has survived a lot of history over the years, staying open during both world wars and welcoming the likes of Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill and Agatha Christie. In its latest incarnation the design-focused Soho House Group has bought and spruced up this Georgian building, playing on its 1920s heyday in opening an all-day French brasserie, Champagne bar and 33 glamorous hotel rooms.
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