The UK’s best Chinatowns: where to explore and what to eat
Getting lost in the red paper lanterns and Mandarin street signs of one of the UK’s five Chinatowns can genuinely make you feel like you’ve been transported to East Asia.
And while a stroll through the stone lions and dumpling houses is always a pleasure, there’s no need to trek around town every time you fancy some authentic tasting chow mein, crispy duck, or dim sum.
We’ve pulled together some of the best places to order from around the UK’s Chinatowns, and even included the Chinese translations so you can check you’re in the right place. You’re welcome.
Manchester – 曼徹斯特唐人街
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Bao-bunned between Mosley and Portland Street, Manchester’s Chinatown is every bit as flavourful as it is colourful.
The country’s second biggest, Manchester’s Chinatown is jam-packed with specialist eateries, groceries, and karaoke bars. And if you’re there don’t forget to check out the beautiful brick mural of a Chinese junk, that’s an ancient sailing ship, in the Faulkner Street parking lot. It’s sure to get you in the mood for some Chinese-style seafood.
Then once you’re done wandering around, order a King Prawn Chop Suey from one of central Manchester’s top rated Chinese restaurants, like Castle Garden.
Birmingham – 伯明翰唐人街
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Chinatown in Birmingham is one of the city’s most vibrant areas. Centred on Hurst Street, the area has been at the heart of Chinese culture since immigrants settled here during the Second World War. It may be the smallest of the “official” Chinatowns, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in style.
Local businesses donated the impressive 7-story stone pagoda, which is guarded by stone dogs. So take a gander at “Pagoda Island,” and then order in some equally impressive Szechuan Style Double Cooked Pork from No.1 Chinese Cafe and Takeaway.
Liverpool – 利物浦唐人街
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Europe’s oldest Chinatown is in Liverpool, which may come as a surprise to everyone except the Liverpudlians. Dating back to the 1850’s arrival of Chinese sailors; the district is also home to the biggest Chinatown Archway outside of China, measuring in at a spectacular 15 metres tall.
Count all 200 dragons on the marble-and-wood structure, and when you’re finished, order some special Salt & Pepper Chicken to develop some fire-breathing skills of your own.
Newcastle – 紐卡斯爾唐人街
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Within the classic Tyneside buildings of Newcastle’s Grainger Town, lies Chinatown. A Chinese arch stands 11m tall on St. Andrews Street, flanked by two Chinese guardian lions. The first Chinese restaurant in Newcastle, the Marlborough Café, here way back in 1949.
In keeping with the historic Newcastle Chinese community is the extensive menu at China Food, where we recommend tasting the crispy aromatic duck and pancakes, with tangy plum sauce, freshly sliced spring onion, and cucumber.
London – 倫敦唐人街
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London’s Chinatown, headquartered in Gerrard Street, wasn’t established until the 1970s. The area now has more than 80 restaurants showcasing some of London’s finest and most authentic Asian cuisine.
The annual New Year’s parade — which this year took place February 18 — features music, firecrackers, martial arts, enormous multi-person puppets for the dragon and lion dances, and acrobats strutting their stuff along Charing Cross Road.
Once you’re done exploring, order some authentic dishes from Sanxia. We recommend the La Zi Ji, for the uninitiated, that’s Aromatic crispy chicken with dried chilli and sesame.
Search the top Chinese takeaways in Sheffield.
OK… you caught us. Technically this one doesn’t count. Yet. Sheffield’s Chinatown at New Era Square will open officially in 2019. Until then, sample the delights of New Wongs Kitchen, which is already representing the neighbourhood. No need to wait until 2019 for your sweet and sour chicken ball, or crispy wonton fix.
Armed with all this information where will you be visiting, and more importantly, what will you be eating first?