7 Asian restaurants to visit in London

restaurantes de cocina asiática en Londres - Viaje de Steve Anderson y los cocineros de Ma Khin Café

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” Samuel Johnson, essayist, 1777

London has been a pivotal place for me throughout my life. I was born there in 1964, in the heart of Bethnal Green. So that makes me a pure Londoner (if such a thing exists), a real cockney, if you bear in mind that the strict definition of a cockney is someone who was born within the sound of the bells of Bow church.

My father hated London, so when as a newly qualified doctor he was offered his first posting in Wales he hopped at the chance to uproot his offspring from London and took us to Newport, where we all remained until we came of age. After graduating from university, I returned to London to work as a physics teacher at a secondary school in Brixton. And from there I set sail for Valencia, also to work as a teacher in 1991, an adventure I expected to last no more than a couple of years. FThrough a series of coincidences, I returned to London to train at Alistair Little’s restaurant in Soho. In 1996 I came back to Valencia to open Seu Xerea, my first restaurant in the city.

And true to Samuel Johnson’s famous quote, as I’ve never grown tired of life, nor have I grown tired of London. This January I went there with Fernando Núñez and Javier Lajara, the head chefs at Ma Khin Café, as intrepid foodie reincarnations of the explorer Phileas Fogg. Seven restaurants in four days!

So if you are planning a trip to London this summer, here’s a few Asian restaurants worth checking out:


Tofu Vegan, inspired by Sichuan, Canton and Dongbei food

If you can get over the initial reaction to the not exactly exciting name, this little gem inspired by Sichuan, Canton and Dongbei food really impressed us. Though Tofu Vegan focuses on dishes in which seitan and tofu simulate meat (the spicy tofu is excellent), they pay particular attention to their vegetable dishes. Worth highlighting are their cloud ear fungus salad, steamed vegetable dumplings, hot and fragrant fried cauliflower and pan-seared padron peppers.

Dishoom, new Indian cuisine

The first Indian restaurant in London, The Hindoostane Coffee House, opened its doors back in 1810. Since then cuisine from the Indian subcontinent can be found even in the smallest and most remote corners of the United Kingdom. Dishoom takes a new outlook on Indian cuisine in a space inspired by the cafés of Mumbai run by the Iranian diaspora, though the chili broccoli salad with mint transported us directly to Ma Khin Café! We loved their chole puri, a spicy dish of chickpea and black tea with sweet halwa (made from almonds) and puffed puri (fried bread). And don’t leave without trying the sheekh kabab, succulent skewers of minced lamb marinated with green chili and spices.

Som Saa, traditional Thai at its best

With its regional cuisine, Som Saa is a fantastic introduction to traditional Thai food. Its massaman curry is incredibly tasty: a fantastic balance between spices and sauce, at once creamy and tangy. And don’t forget to order fish cakes with red curry. Here the food is, to my mind, a little less daring than Kiln (see below), but you are guaranteed good food in a warm welcoming setting.

Sambal Shiok, a must for soup lovers

As our trip to London was during winter time, the laksa soups at Sambal Shiok proved the perfect antidote to the cold wet and windy English weather. But be warned, this is not for the faint-hearted when it comes to hot and spicy.

Cay Tre, Vietnamese food you’ll fall in love with

I fell in love with Vietnamese food on my first trip to the country ten years ago. In general Vietnamese cuisine is fresh, light and healthy. The phø soup at Cay Tre has everything this signature dish should have: a lightly tangy broth, perfect balance between savoury, sweet, spicy and sour, with chucks of brisket that melt in your mouth.

Kiln, an explosion of tastes for daring foodies

Personally speaking, this was the standout from our trip. This barbeque restaurant is so small that you get the feeling that all the signature flavours of Thai food have been concentrated in their dishes due to lack of space. A visit to Kiln is an explosion of tastes, for the most daring foodies only. Particularly tasty was the Issan style pork offal laap (as hot as fire) and the Cull Yaw (a breed of sheep), mutton curry with cumin.

Lah Pet, contemporary Burmese cuisine

Well worth a mention is the Burmese restaurant run by my good friend Zaw Mahesh. You can count the number of Burmese restaurants here in Europe on the fingers of one hand. It is a largely unknown cuisine but in London, a cosmopolitan city with a place for everyone, it has found its public. Here you can try all the classic dishes from Myanmar: start with lah pet fermented tea salad, and crispy fried chickpea cakes. And make sure to try the noodles, mohinga and khao swe. Just as good as anything I had in Yangon

Ma Khin Café, open in August for anyone staying put in Valencia

And if, for whatever circumstances, you are staying in Valencia this August, Ma Khin Café is open for you! Here you can find refuge from the heat and enjoy a little bit of Soho in London without leaving the city, because what we do is the result of all our gastronomic trips and research: a restaurant where Asian food is perfectly balanced with fresh Mediterranean produce.

Happy holidays!