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Jan 19, 2012 02:58 AM

Definitive list of best Asian restaurants in London

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.

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  1. 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

      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. 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

        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

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

      2. 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

          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

            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

              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

                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

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

                  1. re: klyeoh


                    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

                      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


                        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

                          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

                          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:

                        3. re: huiray

                          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:

                          1. re: klyeoh


                            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

                              Have heard Awana is relocating but we shall see.

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


                              1. re: PigsOnTour

                                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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                  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:

                      2. 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. 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!