"Clearly something of a Chinatown institution"Review Rating: Reviewed by Laurel
Sundays are made for eating. Fact. From breakfast in bed to a boozy brunch to serious comfort food suppers, food is the constant across my weekend activity. While I’m a staunch supporter of a pub roast of a Sunday, if you can bear to tear yourself away from the lure of a delicious joint with all the trimmings and brace the craziness of the West End, Orient London - a bastion of Chinatown - has something of an impressive Dim Sum menu available that makes for the perfect Sunday feast.
Book ahead; we arrived to a queue out of the door, always a good sign. The restaurant was buzzing with Chinese chatter, every table heaving under the weight of the gargantuan menu and the air filled with scents that would make any stomach grumble. Orient London is famed for its unique Szechuan and Cantoese cuisine and show-stopping Dim Sum menu; it’s also one of the only remaining Dim Sim menus in Chinatown to be freshly prepared and handmade on site every day.
It’s worth noting all of the food looked absolutely delicious (with the possible exception of the beef honeycomb tripe…) and I’ll certainly be back soon enough to get my fill of the rest of the menu, but this particular Sunday feast was all about the Dim Sum. Baked mini roast pork buns arrived glossily glazed and pillow soft, filled with sweet and tender pork in a juicy glaze. I was torn between whether those or the roast pork puffs would be added to my fantasy death row meal menu.
The menu is, typically, fairly pork and prawn heavy, with both appearing in many delicious little disguises. The Crystal king prawn dumplings with black truffle had a dose of X.O. chilli sauce to give it a pleasing kick, while the cheung fun - fat prawn stuffed rice noodles - in their tangy sweet soy marinade were delicate and delicious, despite being slippery little buggers impossible to eat tidily. I admit we weren’t brave enough to sample the various chicken claw dishes on the menu, nor the duck tongues, though you may be a bigger person than I am.
The Thai style squid cakes were the only downer of a dish, slightly too spongy to be pleasant in texture and a little underwhelmingly bland on flavour, they’re not recommended.
Given that the restaurant was heaving - and with a mostly Chinese clientele - it’s clearly something of a Chinatown institution that’s stood its ground as a generation of new upstarts pop up around it. I’ll be back for the main menu for sure, but for now book yourself a Dim Sum-day lunch with a difference.
Laurel reviewed Orient London on Tue 26 Mar 2019