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Nov 16, 2009 07:16 AM

Authentic/Good Takeaways in London - Do they exist?

Well of course they do. Especially Indian takeaways. And pizzas. But what about East Asian food? I have yet to find one good, nay acceptable, Chinese takeaway in London. There will be some, at the very least some decent quality Cantonese food. Although if anyone knows of a place that will deliver excellent mainland Chinese food, northern or Sichuanese, I'll happily deliver your baby in return (not that I'm at all qualified to do so).

Moving on, Vietnamese? I bet there's some great Vietnamese delivery services out there. Korean? Japanese? Thai? etc. I have had some ok stuff before, but never felt "wow, I'm gonna be ordering this in next Saturday when I'm too hungover to go to the shops" with any sort of East Asian takeaway.

Let's keep this open beyond my Asian cravings. A discussion of all good takeaways with the area they're based for reference. For the record I'm up in north London (Islington-y way).

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  1. I'm a NYer w/ young family in London so a subject near and dear to my heart and one cultural difference I've questioned on this board before. Anyhow, my go to delivery options in W2/W11

    Thai - Market Thai
    Lebanese - Al Waha
    Indian - Durbar Tandoori
    Mexican - Santo
    Pizza - I hoof it to the Oak or Portobello Pizza for takeaway

    The above are all really solid choices and definitely good enough to feed a hang over. My
    Chinese of choice for delivery is Gourmet Oriental in Maida Vale - It's not always good but the best I've been able to find that brings it to my door.

    I work in Farringdon and get Chinese delivered by Kung Food - better then my w2 option above, but still pretty standard fare.


    13 Replies
    1. re: NYLONDave

      Nope. Sorry. Even the best ethnic restaurants seem to put slop in the takeaways and anyway by the time it's got to you...There are some OKish ones I know but in south london so a million miles from you. Other option is eating out on Friday, going large, and therefore having bulging doggy bags for the next day. Same issue with crispy things no longer being so, but on the whole find the stuff you get served in-house is better so if you order carefully eg stews, curries it should survive reheating.

      If anyone on here has found some genuinely good takeaways I would be extremely happy. And by takeaway that's not picking fish and chips or kebabs up immediately and eating on the go - it's home delivery of Indian/Chinese/whatever.

      1. re: helen b

        I used to love Vamaji Indian in Raynes Park for delivery, it's changed hands to Mumbai Kitchen and I'm yet to try it. Again, RP is miles from the OP.

        I've got to say I love a decent, properly made shish kebab and the ones at Cappodocia in Kingston are wonderful. I've had great kebabs at a Turkish cafe on Holloway road, but I can't recall the name.

        1. re: Nii

          Where is Cappodocia in Kingston? I need a change from my regular lunch places!

          1. re: zuriga1

            Cappodocia is opposite Kingston station on Fife road.

            1. re: Nii

              Thanks, Nii - will get there.

        2. re: helen b

          Actually I should've mentioned one option, I got too caught up in ranting about the paucity of Chinese takeaways. It's actually one of my favourite Indian restaurants around - Bengal Lancer in Kentish Town. To be honest its not the cheapest of takeaways but it is very good Indian food. One example of a good takeaway if you happen to live there or thereabouts.

          1. re: chief1284

            101 thai kitchen (best thai in london imo) delivers but of course that's only if you live in west london

            1. re: t_g

              Last time I checked 101, which I love, wouldn't deliver to W11/W2. If that's changed it would be a major score. Though it is a great option for those closer to Hammersmith


          2. re: helen b

            I'm living in Teddington and was formerly in Richmond - I agree Chinese in particular can be deeply underwhelming - however Good Earth/Good Earth Express in my opinion does an extremely fresh/high quality takeaway - admittedly it is a bit pricey but the mandarin chicken/szechuan chicken are excellent and as close as I've gotten to good 'NYC'-style Chinese - they have a few locations in London - I'm not sure if all do takeaway but I've seen them scattered around West London (they're in Richmond & Wimbledon as well).....

            1. re: sunyata

              Sunyata - how does "NYC-style Chinese" compare to China style Chinese?

              1. re: PhilD

                I don't know about sunyata's experiences with Chinese food in NYC, but it always seemed to me that just about every restaurant there serves Cantonese-style dishes. Times change and there is probably more variety now than in the past, but I think the typical menu in Manhattan is lacking things from other provinces. Maybe sunyata knows some good mandarin or szechuan places back there... I personally wouldn't call them 'NYC' style.

                1. re: zuriga1

                  Huh? The NYC Chinese scene is almost entirely regional now. We've got major Xi'an, Xinjiang, Sichuan, Hunan, Dongbei, Qingdao, Beijing,Taiwanese, Fujianese, Gansu style, and of course Canto. I love the London Chinese scene but I personally think NYC has it completely and utterly beat for the time being.

                  Manhattan is mostly Canto, but Flushing and Brooklyn are 95% regional. There's even a Yunnan place in Brooklyn now.

                  On the topic of takeaway, you're pretty close to Red Bar which has good Hangzhou food (though you have to talk them into cooking some of the dishes now as their Hangzhou menu was sorta discontinued due to lack of interest.) Their Sichuan is also A LOT better than Gourmet San's. Also, you're pretty close to some really good Turkish pickings on Green Lanes as well as Pizza Bianca (Albanian run pizzeria that took over from previously Italian owners though they're keeping it alive and kicking.)

                  1. re: JFores

                    I was really referring to Manhattan. And I left quite awhile ago now, so I'm pretty much out of touch. I almost never got to eat in the boroughs but I know things are different in them.


          The other day I was in South Kensington, and having read loads on how good No 10 Chinese Restaurant was in Earls Court, I ventured over. The Sichuanese stuff on the menu was 9/10 quality. The service was a little surly, the surroundings very plain, but the food excellent (and I consider myself a Sichuanese connoisseur). And guess what? They deliver! Within 3 miles!

          The terrible news for me is that I'm too far away up north, but I'm not bitter enough to not share this with the rest of you.

          One note of warning...they have a large menu of mostly very ordinary English Chinese food, which looked uninspired on other tables. The main menu features some Sichuan food, but a lot is on a whiteboard (in Chinese). The takeaway menu features no Sichuanese food. So...either take note of the names of some good dishes while you're there, or have some Sichuanese classics on the ready when you order.

          Also note - I suspect a variety of Sichuanese dishes wouldn't come as a takeaway cos they're too saucy - ie. shui zhu niu rou (water boiled beef), dan dan mian (dan dan noodles), ma la zi yu (don't know how to translate that). Think of dry dishes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chief1284

            no, no. both dan dan and water boiled beef travel well - they are wrapped up in plastic and don't spill at all.

          2. Depends on where you are. I pretty much regard Needoo and Red Bar as my local takeaways and both are extremely good (the former is Pakistani and was much talked about of late while Red Bar has some pretty good Sichuan food and a great Hangzhou menu in Chinese only. Also, their noodles are a massive bargain. If you don't live near or in Whitechapel or Bethnal Green then this probably doesn't help you much...)

            Where do you live? Taste of Beijing would do takeaway. Cay Tre or any of the other Old St Vietnamese would take away. Delivery not so much (though Needoo delivers if you live close by and they're not being invaded by an army of Metro readers.)

            Drat I just saw you're in Islington. Ok I have no idea.

            7 Replies
            1. re: JFores

              needoo do takeaway. gourmet san do takeaway. anyone with an E at the start of their postcode should check if they deliver to them.

              1. re: alexdz

                I've fully converted from Gourmet San to Red Bar. Literally everything is better... and there's a mysterious yet hilarious Chinese club upstairs!

                Neither has a Sichuanese chef, but Red Bar's Sichuanese food is world's better and their Hangzhou menu is reeeeally good.

                1. re: JFores

                  You wouldn't have a copy of that Hangzhou menu, would you? Jiangzhe food fanciers heading for London for a very brief visit soon. ((Their website refers to Northeastern and Sichuan food, nothing about HZ).

                  1. re: buttertart

                    Limster might be able to recite some of it from memory... I can remember a sliced fish with pickled vegetables dish, dragon well duck tongues, dragon well prawns, an amazing crispy tofu and pork roll, two types of pork ribs, etc.

                    1. re: JFores

                      Ooh ooh ooh, adding this one to the list. Ever since having West Lake vinegar fish along with other amazing stuff in a restaurant overlooking Xihu have been on the hunt for HZ cuisine. Do they pass out the HZ menu or do you have to ask for it? It's at 132 Bethnal Green Road, correct? Can't wait!

                      1. re: buttertart

                        It's only in Chinese and it's back on the wall by the kitchen. They sometimes keep on out in plastic on one of the tables. I suspect that the dish my be West Lake vinegar fish. It's white fillets in a light sauce with a slight vinegary tang. The entire arrangement is surrounded by pickled vegetables and also had a variety of pickled and non pickled vegetables throughout including chillies and carrots. I think it's on the bottom left of the HZ menu.

                        1. re: JFores

                          Will keep an eye out (we read Chinese). The version of vinegar fish I know is a whole freshwater fish steamed with black vinegar, scallions, and ginger among other thinks, served swimming its sauce. The dish you describe sounds great too.

            2. We had a significantly better than expected pizza delivered to a pub a few weeks ago from Base Pizza on Essex Road.
              Also, we get Thai take away (they also deliver) from yum yum in stoke newington when we are in that too drunk/lazy to cook. I'm rather embarrassed by that one because the decor is so over the top, but the food is quite good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: relizabeth

                Firezza Pizza is quite good as well and serves a fairly large area for home delivery. Not as good as you will get at say Franco Manco or even the Oak but they deliver to your door and it is at least woodfired.