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Definitive list of best Asian restaurants in London

l
livetoeat Jan 19, 2012 02:58 AM

Would love your help - my friends and I want to find the best of the best of the different Asian cuisines, and have thus far concluded that Thai 101 in Hammersmith (for Thai) and Atari-ya in Ealing (for sushi) are unmatched. We're moving on to Vietnamese - what do you consider the best? Heard mixed things about Song Que (but that it might have slipped as of late) or Viet Grill. Would love any and all thoughts/input.

  1. h
    Harters Jan 19, 2012 06:52 AM

    When I'm travelling away from home, the Good Food Guide is my usually reliable guide to good eats. Their highest scores for Asian cuisines in the London area are below (I'm assuming a more precise definition of "asian" rather than a country just being in Asia, so I've excluded the "middle east" countries):

    Chinese - Hakkasan (5)

    Indian - Rasoi & Tamarind (5)

    Japanese - Nobu, Umu & Zuma (5)

    Pakistani - Salloos (3)

    Vietnamese - Viet Grill (2)

    Malaysian - Awana (1)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Harters
      PhilD Jan 19, 2012 01:40 PM

      I feel their (GFG) credibility is somewhat dented by listing Zuma and Nobu as the best Japanese. Posh westernised Japanese yes, but the best...? I fear the same criticism could be levelled at the others on their list.

    2. p
      pj26 Jan 19, 2012 08:35 AM

      It's going to be like comparing apples with oranges on this one, and how does one compare, for example, Hakkasan with, say Gourmet San under the very broad 'Chinese' heading? It's a bit too broad to just boil it down to the 'best' in one cuisine!

      But anyway, for me...I like Song Que for their pho and their bun xao, and Viet Grill/Cay Tre for their shaking beef and quail dishes.

      Chinese: I really like Haozhan, Yauatcha for dim sum and Gourmet San for their meat skewers and crab.

      Pakistani I think Needoo is best.

      I've also recently come across a great Nepalese place on Mare St, who's name has escaped me now, which I love but I have limited experience in Nepalese food, so don't have anything to compare it against, just that it's delicious!

      2 Replies
      1. re: pj26
        zuriga1 Jan 19, 2012 11:22 AM

        Was the Nepalese place called Ghurka Inn? A friend told me about that one after eating some wonderful Nepalese food with me here in Surrey. We have two Ghurka Kitchens, which I guess makes for it being a chain. The food is Indian with a lovely twist!

        1. re: zuriga1
          p
          pj26 Jan 20, 2012 05:04 AM

          Not sure - I will be going past there tomorrow so will keep an eye out, possible the same one.

      2. PhilD Jan 19, 2012 01:37 PM

        I understood 101 Thai was last years thing, now it is The Heron for Thai.

        I suggest you read Klyeoh's posts as he knows his stuff, his one on Sedap is a good example - it must be the best Singaporian/Malaysian

        18 Replies
        1. re: PhilD
          limster Jan 19, 2012 03:01 PM

          Unfortunately no one's reported much tasting of the southern Thai dishes at 101 Thai yet. A prawn curry we had a while ago was excellent; iirc one of the owners is Southern Thai. Won't be able to draw any conclusions without any information. Would be interesting to see how their massaman curry compares with Kaosarn's.

          1. re: PhilD
            k
            klyeoh Jan 20, 2012 08:39 AM

            Thanks for your vote of confidence, PhilD. I must confess that I used to collect GFG's annual publications (as well as every one of Time Out London's Eating & Drinking Guide for the past 29 years).
            In GFG's case, I think they also gave weight to a restaurant's ambience - perhaps taking a leaf out of Michelin Red Guide's approach. In which case, places like Zuma, Nahm, Hakkasan & Nobu would undoubtedly score high.
            Heron, Thai 101, Sedap may come across as being too spartan decor-wise, and much too informal in their service.

            1. re: klyeoh
              huiray Jan 20, 2012 07:46 PM

              Have you (or other Chowhounds) eaten at Awana? I was curious about it and looked it up - the menu seems more Malay with a smattering of quasi-Malaysian-Indian/Malaysian-Chinese, in a place with pretensions of ambience. The reviews on it (not from CH) are a mixed bag, with self-identified Malaysians generally panning the place...

              1. re: huiray
                k
                klyeoh Jan 20, 2012 09:08 PM

                I'm not a *big* Malay food fan, so Awana was not on my radar actually. Maybe I should give it a try the next time.

                IMO, the best Malay food in London is undoubtedly at the Malaysian govt-owned Malaysia Student Hall canteen at 30-34 Queensborough Terrace, Bayswater. The food's cheap, but it's really self-service canteen-style with spartan decor & sticky tables. The whole place smells "Malay" - you'd know what I mean, that unique and somehow indescribeable scent you get when you step into a Malay home anywhere in Malaysia or Singapore.

                Other exclusively ethnic Malay places (they do NOT serve Chinese-Malaysian or Indian-Malaysian dishes) I'd tried before in London were Satay House (off Edgware Road), Melur (on Edgware Rd itself), Jom Makan (Trafalgar Square) and Melati (Great Windmill St, Soho). None served really outstanding food. What sets Awana apart from those other Malay spots (which catered mainly to Muslim-Malays & other Muslims) is that it has a full bar, besides the fact that it's fine-dining Malay, catering to the Chelsea clientele.

                1. re: klyeoh
                  howler Jan 21, 2012 04:47 AM

                  bestest sambal i ever had was at the student hall canteen.

                  1. re: klyeoh
                    huiray Jan 21, 2012 06:58 AM

                    Thanks.

                    Yes, I know what you mean. :-)

                    I took a closer look at Awana's menu - and would now amend my view of it to more a Malay-like/Malaysian-Chinese-Indian mixed bag. I recall what one reviewer on another board meant when he said his Malaysian friends had no idea what they were eating.

                    1. re: klyeoh
                      o
                      ophie Jan 21, 2012 09:16 AM

                      Do you need to be a malaysian citizen to eat at the Malaysian Student hall? I read a review saying you needed to be, but I'd REALLY like to go (I'm half indonesian but don't think I could pass for Malaysian as my Dad's very strong irish genes have had their way with me!)

                      1. re: ophie
                        howler Jan 21, 2012 04:23 PM

                        no.

                        you approaches the servers, you picks your fancy, you pays and then happily scarf.

                        your citizenship aint got nothing to do with it.

                        1. re: ophie
                          k
                          klyeoh Jan 21, 2012 05:41 PM

                          Technically, the canteen was meant for Malaysian students (and their visiting family/friends) as the place is subsidized by the Malaysian govt. But they'd never ever enforced that ruling, so many a times I'd been there, I see non-Malaysians there, mainly Muslims looking for good, halal food - Arabs, Turks, etc.

                        2. re: klyeoh
                          k
                          klyeoh Nov 11, 2012 11:03 PM

                          Update: Melati in Soho's closed, and in its place is ramen spot, Bone Daddies, helmed by an ex-Zuma chef.

                          BTW, has anyone tried the new Rasa Malaysia at Berjaya Eden Park Hotel, Inverness Terrace? It offers ethnic-Malay cuisine & its chef is a Penang-born "mamak" (Indian-Muslim) which would guarantee a degree of authenticity with regards to its "mee goreng", which is of Indian-Muslim origin in Malaysia, the best versions to be found in Penang. Recent article in the Malaysian media on Rasa Malaysia:
                          http://www.nst.com.my/nation/general/...

                        3. re: huiray
                          k
                          klyeoh May 29, 2012 05:33 PM

                          Front page news on the Sun Malaysia papers today - Awana Chelsea will close down and turned into a sushi bar by its new owners. It's been bleeding £££ since Day 1:

                          "According to the Auditor-General's report tabled last year, Pempena's venture of opening a Malaysian restaurant in London brought "dismal results", raking in only £13,000 in 2007, far behind its annual target of £520,692."

                          For full article, read here:
                          http://www.thesundaily.my/news/391974

                          1. re: klyeoh
                            huiray May 29, 2012 05:43 PM

                            Heh.

                            Somehow I am not surprised. Not when one reads of the befuddlement of diners about what it was that they were eating...

                            1. re: huiray
                              p
                              PigsOnTour May 31, 2012 08:46 AM

                              Have heard Awana is relocating but we shall see.

                              The menu at the new Sushi des Artistes on that site is .. interesting.

                              http://media.city-eating.com/menus/42...

                              1. re: PigsOnTour
                                huiray May 31, 2012 09:31 AM

                                I got a headache reading through that menu. "Interesting" is a polite way of describing it. **Not cheap**, but I suppose befitting Sloane Ranger & Hooray Henry territory. :-)

                          2. re: huiray
                            b
                            brokentelephone May 31, 2012 01:55 PM

                            Awana was my least favorite restaurant in all of London.

                            The owners would spam london-eating with positive reviews constantly, diluting the genuine reviews which were almost all disparaging.

                            I went and had a disgusting meal; the servers were incredibly rude and the manager was a complete asshole. I wrote a negative review on a site and was contacted by the owner who criticized me for my review (how he got my email address from london-eating i'll never know haha shills).

                            I really like Sedap but havent eaten there in years.

                            1. re: brokentelephone
                              p
                              PigsOnTour Jun 1, 2012 01:13 AM

                              Most of the suspicious reviews have now been removed, along with those for Mango Tree. LE don't give out email addresses - did you book online? They might have got the email from that.

                              1. re: PigsOnTour
                                b
                                brokentelephone Jun 1, 2012 02:53 AM

                                Nope -- twas a walk in. The whole thing was really sketchy.

                                Anyhow its a moot point because they failed (along with my interest of ever going on London Eating -- that site is like yelp without the features, design, intuitiveness, and people).

                                Does anyone ever try Bugis Street? I live nearby but haven't ever tried.

                                1. re: brokentelephone
                                  limster Jun 1, 2012 11:30 AM

                                  It's cheap and very cheerful; the Sunday buffet is popular with Singaporeans and Malaysians, I remember the laksa being pretty good.

                                  klyeoh has a more up to date report: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/828467

                      2. t
                        Theresa Jan 20, 2012 01:59 AM

                        The Mandalay restaurant on Edgware Rd deserves the mention. I'm sure it would qualify as the best Burmese place - but I don't think there is much (if any) competition for that. I reckon it could be fairly high up on the list of best Asian places though.

                        1. m
                          msbkho Jun 1, 2012 03:57 AM

                          I believe you don't need to go to all these fancy restaurants just to have to best food. Being Asian myself, I have tried lots of different places.

                          One place I suggest for Vietnamese food is Banh Mi Bay, extremely reasonable prices. Pho roughly £6-7, £4 banh mi - perfect for lunch. The broth is made with passion and the taste is not too heavy...I was very satisfied. They also have yummy crispy viet spring rolls.... hand made fresh!

                          1. g
                            GreenDragon Jun 7, 2012 10:08 AM

                            Would Turkish/Anatolian qualify as Asian for you? We had a fantastic dinner at Taz one night - best Turkish food I'd ever had. Plus coffee and dessert :)

                            1. h
                              helancox Nov 28, 2012 08:00 AM

                              The best sushi places in London today are sushi tetsu and yashin. They are both very tradition yet do very different things. Fish comes from the same place though so equally as fresh.

                              I prefer yashin, more exciting but both are excellent.

                              1. g
                                globalchow Nov 30, 2012 12:47 PM

                                Ok, I'm going to disclose a hidden gem which I fear will be discovered and packed but I don't think so because it is located in an area that is a culinary desert - Chingford. It's a Chinese restaurant called Good Friends and from the looks of it and the look of the menu (which consist of typical Chinese takeaway items) may seem like something to avoid like the plague. However, for those Chinese people in the know (mainly those who live within a 15-20 mins drive), this is the best Chinese restaurant in East / North London. You need to know what to order and some items are not on the menu. The main specialities is the seafood. The quality is at the same level as Pearl Liang or Mandarin Kitchen. Lobster noodle, steamed scallops, steamed fish / razor clams, etc. This is seriously good seafood from a master chef. Why he is cooking in a restaurant in Chingford is a mystery but get there while he's still there. Become a regular and they will treat you like royalty and always recommend the freshest seafood and what shipments they have in that is fresh, plump, etc.

                                1. w
                                  Will125 Dec 2, 2012 09:17 AM

                                  just ate at song que earlier today. summer rolls were clearly not freshly prepared. vietnamese pancake was outstanding. pho was rather bland. felt like the food was made for westerners. i've had much much better in deptford.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Will125
                                    h
                                    Harters Dec 2, 2012 09:31 AM

                                    Sounds like it wasnt one for "London's best" then, Will. :-)

                                    Although I have no bother with places cooking for westerners. I'm a westerner and most of their customers presumably are, as well.

                                    1. re: Harters
                                      w
                                      Will125 Dec 2, 2012 09:31 AM

                                      Yep, I didn't mean in a pejorative manner as I am a Westerner as well. My point was that it wasn't as good as the Deptford restaurants.

                                  2. l
                                    Littlemoskito Dec 28, 2012 07:11 AM

                                    Asa Kusa for Japanese. I'm very fond of Old Place of Bethnal Green too.

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