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Guess what? I turned 30 this year! To celebrate my birthday, I went on a solo trip to see the Harry Potter play in London and have a foodie weekend here. The only recommendations I asked local friends were for the best restaurants in Soho and Chinatown.
Having been to London before, I wanted to laser focus on Soho’s restaurants instead of spreading myself too thin venturing all over the city. All that was on my mind was food, food, and the Harry Potter play!
For three days, I discovered the ins and outs of Soho and Chinatown by eating at as many Asian restaurants as possible. Sadly, as a solo traveler, I didn’t get to try as much as I wanted to but am still proud and happy with the delicious restaurants in Soho that I went to. Check out these six delicious places to eat in Soho, London, which includes a One Star Michelin restaurant for less than £20 a person!
Update 11/1/18 – I went back to London this August 2018 and ate more Asian food! I added two new places to this list. Woo hoo! These places are my hidden gems in London.
Find Airbnbs in London for your foodie adventure!
Machiya is a Japanese restaurant in Soho, London that serves simple, home-cooking style food. What drew me in here was how crispy and flaky their katsu looked in photos, but what got me to stay were the prices and the wagyu beef!
Everything is reasonably priced under £11 except for the wagyu beef katsu, which is £19– still reasonable. They have a good selection of traditional Japanese food such as donburi, katsu, noodles, and curry, but in addition, they have four different matcha desserts!
I wish I could’ve tried their matcha desserts, but I was too full after I got the wagyu beef katsu, a side of rice, the aurbergine appetizer grilled in miso, homemade ginger beer, and green tea.
The wagyu beef katsu was super tender and tasty! They serve it with salt, lemon, tonkatsu sauce, some other sauce, and beef fat, which you use to grill the wagyu beef with. Normally I enjoy my katsu with the tonkatsu sauce (the brown sauce), but because the beef was so good, I simply ate it with a spritz of lemon and salt after grilling it with the beef fat.
If I went back a second time, I would definitely get the aubergine (eggplant) grilled in miso sauce again, and try a matcha dessert. Since I already had the wagyu beef, I’d probably opt for a traditional pork or chicken katsu to try something else, but the beef is definitely worth a try!
Lastly, if you care about ambiance, then Machiya is clean-cut and minimal, and all your food comes on cute, little Japanese ceramics.
Helpful Info: Website, 5 Panton St
Vibe: Clean / Minimal
After getting out of the Harry Potter play at the Palace Theatre, I headed to Tokyo Diner, an authentic Japanese restaurant in London’s Chinatown. From the automatic door to the menu suggestions, I felt like I was truly in a diner in Tokyo.
The menu gave very cultural suggestions on how to eat the food. For example, it suggested eating sushi with your fingers and making loud slurping sounds while eating noodles to get the best flavor out of it. Also, it highlighted that the servers at Tokyo Diner wouldn’t accept tips because that’s not how it’s done in Japan. With all its authentic tips, I knew I was in good hands.
To warm me up from the cold, I ordered a bowl of udon noodle soup and two salmon nigiri pieces. Despite its inexpensive prices, both dishes were flavorful and gave me much satisfaction. I left the diner a very happy girl!
Helpful Info: Website, 2 Newport Pl
Good to know: No need to tip here.
Vibe: Cosy / Authentic / Casual
Related: Find the best hostels in London here.
Wan Chai Corner
Out of all the places to eat in London’s Chinatown, this was probably my favorite because dim sum– enough said. But seriously, the flavors and texture of this dim sum were authentic.
The only gripe I had was I thought the skin of the soup dumpling could’ve been somewhat thinner, but the spring of the skin was there when you chewed it. You know when you chew on pasta or noodles, and the food sticks to your teeth slightly and springs back? Yesssss– the texture of gluten– be still my heart!
I ordered the soup dumplings, grilled steamed buns with meat and veggies inside, and rice crepes with scallops. They were all so good! I would’ve ordered more but was stuffed. I hope you can order more food than me. 🙂 I want to go back already.
If you’ve never had soup dumplings, order them anytime you see them on a menu. They’re so good. Since there’s soup inside the dumplings, place the dumpling on a spoon so while you eat it the spoon catches the soup, and you don’t miss out on any goodness.
Helpful Info: 3 Gerrard St
Good to know: Dim sum is only available from 12-5PM.
Vibe: Casual / Authentic / You’re here for the food, not the service or ambiance.
One of my Instagram friends from London, the Footprint Files, recommended this restaurant to me! I knew her list of places to go to were spot on after going here so I followed her recommendations from this point forward.
Misato is another Japanese restaurant in London’s Chinatown recommended by the Footprint Files, a London local, and was just what I needed after seeing the second part of the Harry Potter play at the Palace Theatre.
In case you’re wondering, the Harry Potter play is spread over two parts, which for me was over two nights. Sometimes they’re on the same day.
This no-frills place serves exactly the kind of food that I myself would make at home but that doesn’t make it any less desirable. The biggest draw to this restaurant is the price! That huge plate of katsu, curry, rice, and salad you see in the photo above was only £6,50. I would totally skip cooking at home and eat here instead for that price and quality.
While I was eating my food, I thought, “I’d love to open up a place like this. Good food at good prices. I’d love to make lots of people happy too!” Haha– it’s a good sign when a place starts to fire up my entrepreneurial brain.
I also got a tempura maki roll just to try something else, but the star of this place was the cheap and yummy katsu. I got the curry on the side because it’s not my favorite but I still wanted to try it. I enjoyed the katsu on its own.
If I came back, I’d definitely go after having a few beers with friends. It seems like that kind of place!
Helpful Info: Website, 11 Wardour St
Good to know: This place is cash only.
Vibe: Casual / Authentic / You’re here for the food, not the ambiance, but do expect good service. They’re quick!
Dishoom is a trendy Indian restaurant with various locations in London. I first went to the Dishoom in Shoreditch for dinner on my first trip to London, but quickly learned that this is a hotspot for brunch! However, the lines for brunch were too long, and I missed out.
Luckily, there was a Dishoom in Soho right near where I was staying so I met up with Charlotte (who I met on Instagram) and had a lovely breakfast. We went as soon as it opened so there was no line.
I ordered a breakfast naan with award-winning Shropshire pork sausages and free-range eggs while Charlotte ordered the Vegan Bombay with was full of heavily-spiced and tasty beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, and more. Both dishes were so good and quite filling.
Usually skeptical of chai drinks because they’re usually made from powder, I thoroughly enjoyed masala chai drink, which, to my surprise, came with unlimited refills!
For a trendy Instagrammable place with quality-sourced ingredients, attention to varying diets (gluten-free, dairy intolerance, and vegan), great service, and of course, tasty food, this is the place to go!
Helpful Info: Website, 12 Upper St. Martin’s Lane / Multiple Locations
Good to know: They have a separate vegan menu and are very mindful of dairy and gluten intolerances!
If you’re visiting London with kids, if your kid aren’t picky, this would be a good place to go because the staff is so nice and there’s a good amount of space.
Vibe: Oh so Instagrammably trendy / Casual
Find Airbnbs in London for your foodie adventure!
I’m a sucker for Michelin restaurants, and when I found out there was a Michelin restaurant that had a tasting menu for less than £20, I had to go!
From Monday to Thursday from 2:00 – 5:45PM, Yauatcha Soho has a eight-course tasting menu with tea for £19! See the Taste of Yauatcha menu.
The only caveat is that you have to go with a minimum of two people. I went here on my first trip to London but not recently since I was flying solo.
In addition to the eight-courses and tea, you also get to choose one of their sweet macarons for dessert! Yes, this is all for £19. So worth it– don’t you think?
Helpful Info: Website, 15-17 Broadwick St
Vibe: Upscale / Chic
Wow everything about the ramen at Bone Daddies was perfectly executed from the noodles to the broth, and best of all, even their vegetarian mushroom soup is delicious. The pork broth got quite heavy after having so much of it that by the end of my meal, I thought that next time I would get the mushroom broth, which is extremely flavorful.
Helpful Info: Website, 31 Peter St
There are two other locations too.
Vibe: Casual, Hip
If you love dumplings, then you must eat at Beijing Dumplings, which is a Michelin guide restaurant! Everything is freshly prepared and each dumpling bite is so juicy and succulent. Even the vegetarian dumplings that my friend got were delicious and flavorful.
Know that the service is horrible but you don’t go for the service. It’s solely for the food. It’s pretty laughable. While the server was filling my water cup, he decided to also spill a good amount of it on the table and didn’t even bat an eye or try to wipe it up.
Helpful Info: Website, 21 Lisle Street
Vibe: Hole-in-the-wall, Casual, Street Food Style
Other Local Recommendations
The worst part about traveling solo is that there’s no one to share food with meaning you can’t eat out as much! #firstworldproblems As a result, I didn’t get to try all the restaurants that were recommended to me, but maybe you can!
Here are other local recommendations for places to eat in Soho and Chinatown in London given to me by locals:
- Clos Maggiore for upscale French cuisine
- Gail’s Bakery for English baked goods with clotted cream*
- “Try the pink lavender looking cake,” says my friend!
*Update 11/1/18: I went to Gail’s three times on my third trip back to London. The location in Soho is small and doesn’t have the scones with clotted cream all the time so check out the other locations too. Everything is delicious.
Where I Stayed in London
Having been to London twice, I got to know the Shoreditch and Soho neighborhoods and have loved them both. They both serve different purposes.
Shoreditch is like New York’s Williamsburg and is full of trendy places and street art whereas Soho is a great neighborhood to be in to be close to tourist sites, Chinatown, and Broadway plays. They’re both great for food.
In Soho, I stayed in a charming private room Airbnb (suitable for one person). The host was so warm and kind, and the apartment itself is beautiful in an old-school kind of way. It’s actually a Type 2 building (not exactly sure what that means) but it’s historical so they’re not allowed to make adjustments or upgrades to it.
Above all, the bed was sooo comfy, and the location was fantastic. Everywhere I went was only about a 10-15 minute walk from Christine’s Airbnb.
In Shoreditch, I stayed at the Ace Hotel, which was fantastic. I loved the minimal design, service, and the community feel the hotel fosters. They invite locals to hang out and work in their lobby amidst the tourists so it’s a very open environment.
I also liked how there was a record shop, restaurant, and juice store attached to the hotel so it was almost like going to a resort, but in a city. It’s a very comfortable and chill hotel to stay at.
I hope my most recent foodventure helps you decide where to eat in Soho and Chinatown! I’d love to hear what you thought about those restuarants too so make sure to reach out to me after you go.
Enjoy your time there, and eat an extra plate of food for me! Why not?
Thanks for making it all the way down to the end of the post. I’d love to connect. Come say hi to me my Instagram @sarchetrit, especially if you found any part of this post to be helpful.
Till then, thanks for stopping by, and have a great day!