Over the past couple of decades, London’s restaurant scene has been utterly transformed, and today rivals New York for the unofficial title of food capital of the world. In every corner of the city you can find top notch grub of every kind, from delicious cheap eats to the very best in fine dining, and with every ethnic cuisine you can think of available.
Along with buzzing Soho, the hip, artsy district of Shoreditch has been at the epicentre of London’s foodie renaissance. And perhaps the food that can most commonly be found here is Asian, with entire enclaves given over to the continent’s culinary offerings. In short, if you’re seeking great food from the east, head east to Shoreditch. Here’s out pick of the neighbourhood’s best Asian restaurants.
Since the first Nobu opened its doors in Beverly Hills in 1987, it has grown to become one of the world’s most acclaimed high-end Japanese restaurants. Located on the lower ground floor of the eponymous Nobu Hotel, the Shoreditch outpost fits effortlessly into this esteemed global portfolio, with its mix of opulent luxury, authentic Japanese design flourishes, and world class cuisine. During our visit we sampled the restaurant’s Wagyu Whisky Wednesday offering, featuring Japanese-whisky infused cocktails and a range of ‘Kushiyaki’- mouth-watering skewered and grilled chicken and meat dishes, including cuts of the prized Wagyu beef. Soft lightening, a glamorous clientele and a menu that showcases the kitchen’s talents at their very best make this Japanese destination dining in London at its finest.
10-50 Willow Street
There was plenty of buzz when Som Saa opened its door to its first sprinkling of guests in 2006, and that sprinkling soon turned into a cascade. Located within an old fabric warehouse, the menu here is influenced by street food from the north of Thailand. Ideal for groups, there are large tables and booths, and a seriously enticing cocktail list. As for the food, dishes like tamarind grilled chicken and whole deep-fried sea bass are full of flavour, and for those who can take their spice, the papaya salad and jungle curry are serious headblowers.
43A Commercial Street
Kêu Banh Mi Deli
One of several branches dotted around the capital, the Shoreditch outpost of this casual deli style eatery serves up a range of authentic Vietnamese dishes, including steamed buns, noodle and rice bowls, and the famous Bánh mì baguette – the latter being one of Vietnam’s greatest gifts to the world (be sure to ask for Maggi sauce seasoning with yours). The venue itself is bright, airy and welcoming, with the décor featuring distinctive wood finishing. It can get busy, but service is quick so you rarely have to wait for long.
332 Old Street
When the original Smoking Goat opened in Soho in 2014, it rapidly became the hottest ticket in town. Three years later and the purveyors of Thai barbecue food opened a new venue in Shoreditch, inspired by the late night canteens of Bangkok and focusing on ‘Aharn Glam Lao’ — food to eat while drinking. Wok-cooked Massaman goat curries, soy-braised chicken, grilled meats and Cornish seafood cooked on open charcoal grills, and d’tom yam nam sai’ – a sour, spicy variant of tom yum – are just some of the outstanding dishes on offer. A word of caution: the food here comes with a serious kick.
64 Shoreditch High Street
On The Bab
This vibrant, quirkly-named takeaway and café-restaurant serves up mouth-watering Korean food in the heart of Old Street. Kimchee pancakes, bulgogi beef and spicy seafood and tofu stew are some of the perpetual favourites among patrons at this street food-inspired store, which opened in 2013 and is helmed by Linda Lee, doyenne of another renowned Korean restaurant, Koba, in Fitzrovia. Don’t ignore the drinks menu either, with Soja, a popular Korean distilled beverage, available by the glass, carafe or bottle.
305 Old Street
Sông Quê Café
If London had its own official Little Vietnam, there’s no question that Kingsland Road would be its capital. The busy street stretching from Shoreditch High Street to Dalston is lined with casual Vietnamese eateries, and standing out from the crowd is the exceptional Song Que. Consistently packed with diners, the large restaurant has grown to become a veritable institution since opening in 2002 – not least for its serving up of what many connoisseurs claim is the best Pho noodle soup in London.
134 Kingsland Road
Most Vietnamese eateries in London tend to be on the more informal end of the scale, but if you’re looking for a more traditional restaurant set-up, then Cây Tre is the place to come in Shoreditch. The menu is designed for group dining, with plenty of large sharing plates available. Among the highlights are the delectable beef pho, which has an 18-hour prep time, while the salt-and-pepper squid is something to write home about too.
301 Old Street