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A diner cuts into a plate of turbot with green courgettes, two glasses of wine in the background.
Turbot with courgettes and butter at Cadet, Newington Green
Michaël Protin

The 38 Essential Restaurants in London

Eater’s recommended restaurants in London, from the most nourishing stews and curries to the smokiest, most succulent jerk this winter

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Turbot with courgettes and butter at Cadet, Newington Green
| Michaël Protin

The Eater 38 hopes to answer any question that begins, “Can you recommend a restaurant?” It’s a curated list that covers the entire city, spanning more than 20 cuisines, neighbourhoods, and price points. It’s a list that tells the story of the London food scene: It documents the dim sum, Sunday roasts, curries, pizza, sinasir, rarebits, banh mi, udon noodles, pepper pot, and more: All that which makes London among the very best and most diverse places to eat in the world.

The Eater London 38 aims to reflect the best food and most important restaurants in capital at the beginning of 2023 — with new venues making their mark and older establishments having rediscovered their pre-pandemic groove once more. The list will continue to showcase a mix of over three dozen restaurants, which have all done outstanding things in extraordinary times, restaurants which have emerged, survived, thrived, and continued to enrich the city and its food culture as it finds its feet and emerges from more than two years of turmoil.

A monthly updated primer to the best new restaurants in London complements this guide. Please share all tips, ideas, and suggestions with Eater editors by contacting us here.

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Durak Tantuni

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As Jonathan Nunn wrote in his guide to north London’s best-value restaurants, “Durak, a tantuni salonu run by Dogan Yesil on West Green Road, is the superior late night snack template London.” Only the tantuni, a speciality which originates in the city of Mersin on the southern coast of Turkey, is served here. Beef is boiled, seasoned with the likes of tomato, pul biber, sumac, and cumin and subsequently fried in cotton oil before being loaded, meat juices aplenty, inside a thin lavash with chopped parsley, tomato, and onion. It is then given a pleasing bend before being eaten; a selection of high-acid accompaniments — pickled chillis, lemon — provide the necessary cut-through.

The tantuni is ready to be rolled
The tantuni is ready to be rolled
Michaël Protin

Bake Street

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This small Stoke Newington cafe seriously over-delivers, preparing some of London’s best American diner-style smashburgers, Nashville hots, playful samosas, and the inimitable chicken makhani sandwich come the weekend, with a solid core menu for weekday visitors. Its sweet offering isn’t half-bad either; do not miss the ingenious crème brûlée cookie developed by pastry chef Chloe-Rose Crabtree from a recipe by Los Angeles’s Dough and Arrow, or the seasonal ice cream from Crabtree and co-founder Feroz Gajia in warmer months.

NB: One of Bake Street’s patrons, Feroz Gajia, who is also a freelance food writer, restaurant consultant, and “chicken hypebeast,” has contributed to Eater London’s 5 to Try and Best Dishes columns.

Bake Street’s chicken makhani bun
Bake Street’s fried chicken with makhani sauce, American cheese, and coriander chutney on brioche.
Adam Coghlan

Xi'an Impression London

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Wei Guirong’s original joint venture, Xi’an Impression by the Emirates Stadium in Highbury, is a tiny caff-like restaurant which has rightly earned cult status among lovers of regional Chinese food. As at Guirong’s solo restaurant, Master Wei, the focus is on the region’s flour-foods, mianshi: peerless biang biang noodle dishes, with vegetables or beef and hot chilli oil; fine liang pi, cold skin noodles with a refreshing, umami-rich dressing, and the chef’s inimitable burgers with a cumin-spiced beef or pork filling.

hand-pulled noodles at xi’an impression, a classic London restaurant
Xi’an Impression’s biang biang noodles.
Xi’an Impression/Instagram

Westerns Laundry

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Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell’s Westerns Laundry (the pair also oversees Primeur, the various Jolenes, and Big Jo) is one of London’s best seafood restaurants, a notable champion of English and especially Cornish suppliers. It’s still serving glorious plates like fideo pasta rich with cuttlefish, squid ink, and aioli; monkfish friggitelli and mojo verde; and John Dory, peas, braised gem lettuce, and pancetta. A covered terrace and stellar wine list, with low-intervention and classic options, add to the reasons to visit this outstanding warmly lit and carefully designed Holloway restaurant.

Best seafood restaurants in London: Prawns, cuttlefish, and natural wine at Westerns Laundry, one of the best restaurants in Islington
Prawns, cuttlefish, and natural wine at Westerns Laundry.
Patricia Niven

Eater London’s Restaurant of the Year 2022 is comprised of three discrete yet intertwined endeavours. Downstairs in the basement kitchen, George Jephson butchers whole animals, repurposing them as immaculate charcuterie, while upstairs, chef Jamie Smart prepares simple plates of a Franco-southern European leaning with excellent ingredients — think trout poached in butter with roe and sorrel; or a roast game bird with quince and bitter leaves. Alongside him, sommeliers Tom Beattie and Fran Roberts, the duo behind the wine importer bearing both names, run the bar and the floor with a small team. Cadet is a wine bar, a restaurant, a charcutier, and a shopfront; one that feels French; that feels London; and, from the moment it opened, has always felt just right.

A group of people mills around outside Cadet on Newington Green.
Outside Cadet on Newington Green in north London
Michaël Protin

Mangal 2

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Mangal 2 is probably Dalston’s most famous restaurant, preparing excellent Turkish food from a historic ocakbaşı — grilled chicken, lamb, and quail kebabs, pickled chillies, and a classic grilled onion, sumac, and pomegranate molasses salad. Ferhat Dirik, the charismatic general manager and son of the restaurant’s founder, has run the room with expert ease and humour for over a decade. Now, he’s been joined in the kitchen by his brother Sertac who’s brought verve and low-intervention wines; together they have reinvented and modernised one of east London’s most iconic, reliable, and fun restaurants.

Sertaç Dirik, right, at Mangal 2, east London
Sertaç Dirik, right, at Mangal 2, in Dalston.
Michaël Protin

Bánh Mì Hội-An - Vietnamese Street Food in London

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This diminutive shop on Hackney’s Graham Road serves one of the city’s best sandwiches — inside one of the city’s best baguettes. Although the spot has just one table and three or four seats, it’s difficult to think of warmer hospitality than at Bánh Mì Hội-An. The duo behind the counter prepare fresh sandwiches to go, and while the pork classic is excellent, don’t sleep on the turmeric-heavy fried catfish on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays — with fragrant coriander, mayo, fermented chilli paste, sriracha, and pickled vegetables, this is an object lesson in flavour, texture, and balance.

Banh mi with a chicken noodle soup — a perfect, restorative winter lunch
Banh mi with a chicken noodle soup — a perfect, restorative winter lunch
Adam Coghlan

Trullo’s elegant dining room and simple, seasonal food  makes it one of London’s best Italian restaurants and one of its finest neighbourhood restaurants. Dark wood, low lighting, white tablecloths, and straightforward plating make Trullo decidedly anti-Instagram. Its spiritual parents are the two most important restaurants of a generation, the River Cafe and St. John, so dishes marry Italian traditions with British (and Italian) ingredients — fashioned into antipasti, fresh pastas, and secondi, dishes which often do a little time on the charcoal grill. Where sister site Padella is cheaper, faster, and increasingly difficult to get into, Trullo, which offers the same signature beef shin pappardelle and other Padella hits, is more of a grown-up place to eat and relax. A largely Italian (and natural-leaning) wine list is just as considered as everything else.

Trullo, in Highbury & Islington, is one of London’s best Italian restaurants
Lemon tart at Trullo
Trullo [Official Photo]

F.K.A.B.A.M. (Formerly Known as Black Axe Mangal)

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15 years ago the existence of a restaurant like B.A.M. would have been unimaginable in London, but chef Lee Tiernan has pedigree (St. John), and London has changed. Here, Turk-ish (sourdough) flatbreads and kebabs by a British chef in Islington are prepared in a wood oven decorated with graffiti tributes to KISS et al. Tiernan closed the restaurant for much of 2020 and 2021 but has returned, a la Prince, with a new name and many of the old classics, including squid ink flatbread with smoked trout roe; lamb offal flatbread; and various well-travelled hunks of grilled protein imaginatively and judiciously seasoned.

A lamb offal flatbread and pork crackling at Black Axe Mangal, featuring flowery tablecloths
A lamb offal flatbread and pork crackling at F.K.A Black Axe Mangal
Ola Smit


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East Ham is home to London’s largest Kerala community, and its greatest concentration of South Indian restaurants. The pick of them is Thattukada, run by chef-owners Biju and Preeti Gopinath. Curries and roasts have a depth of flavour and spicing that belie their simple descriptions, and should be mopped up with crisp parottas or snow-white appams. But it’s the legendary fries that are unmissable: half a chicken cut into segments, then aggressively and skilfully fried with chilli and crispy onions; little netholi (anchovies) cooked and eaten whole; or battered mussels that pop thrillingly in the mouth.

Chicken fry at Thattukada in East Ham, an outstanding Kerala neighbourhood restaurant Tomas Jivanda/Eater London


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This elegantly designed wine club beneath a Haggerston railway arch now firmly belongs in the top bracket of (French) restaurants in London. Chef Seb Myers and his modern-ish, playful take on French country cooking fits perfectly with the fascinating and broad wine list owned by patron Jonathan Alphandery. With dishes such as a red mullet tartine; grilled leeks vinaigrette with Tunworth cheese; a duck offal choux farcis; and mackerel with coco beans and greens; as well as a caramel tart with blue cheese, Planque has nearly everything that makes a great modern European restaurant great.

Planque, now closed for Christmas Michaël Protin

Bright is the first restaurant-proper from the team behind seminal wine bar P. Franco. It sits at the base of the multi-use Netil House, near London Fields in Hackney, a light and airy space with an open bar area up front, and a kitchen responsible for some of the most satisfying and imaginative cooking in town right now. It has slowly evolved from an improvisational, global kitchen to being comfortable enough in its own skin to take a more directly Italian focus, with pastas — particularly a mainstay cuttlefish fregola — and the fried elements of the snack section, including panelle and pizza fritta, being real hits.

Update: March 22, 2023: Bright and P. Franco have closed.

Andrew Leitch/Eater London

Hill & Szrok Master Butcher & Cookshop

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Master butcher-turned-lockdown provisioner par excellence, Broadway Market’s Hill & Szrok doubles as a restaurant and wine bar, which features just one stool-high sharing table (it doubles as the butcher’s counter during the day). When open in the evenings by candlelight, chef Ella Gibbons’s kitchen is preparing simple, seasonal mains from prime ingredients and large joints of meat to share — 1 kilogram of cote de boeuf for £100, for example — alongside clever sides such as confit potatoes and onions cooked in stock.

Hill and Szrok butcher and cookshop, Brodway Market, east London
Hill and Szrok butcher and cookshop, Broadway Market, east London
Michaël Protin

Cafe Cecilia

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If Sessions was the most glamorous restaurant opening of 2021, then Cafe Cecilia was the hottest. And the trendiest. Since it opened in the autumn, it has maintained a steady flow of plaudits from all the coolest places — in part because of chef-owner Max Rocha’s connection to the world of fashion (father John and sister Simone are designers). However, there’s a surfeit of substance as well as style in this stark, minimalist cafe-bistro. Rocha and his staff are direct descendents of the ingredients-obsessed River Cafe, Rochelle Canteen, and Quo Vadis. Like peer Anna Tobias’s cooking at Cafe Deco, Rocha’s can be a bit beige, but it’s deserving of the attention it has received this year. Do not miss the steak and chips with peppercorn sauce, nor fruit tart at dessert.

A chef plates a dish at Cafe Cecilia. Michaël Protin

Chef Mitshel Ibrahim’s Vyner Street trattoria cannily slants mainstays of Italian cuisine to create a restaurant that feels like the London Italian that it is, rather than the Venetian bacaró that inspires it but to which it isn’t really to be compared. The dining room and ample terrace await faithfully with Roman artichokes; pillowy gnocchi fritti anointed with mortadella; carne salada paired with shimeji mushrooms alongside Parmesan; and quality rotating pastas. The tiramisu is deservedly legendary.

Drinks al fresco on the terrace at Ombra in Hackney, late October 2020 before the second national coronavirus lockdown in England in November Michaël Protin/Eater London

Roti King

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The area around Euston station is replete with no-frills, delicious places to eat. This little Malaysian basement setup from chef Sugen Gopal on Doric Way may be the best. Two pieces of freshly made, high-moisture roti canai — to eat in or take away — are best served with curry dal. That speciality costs only £4.50, though round two is likely, and a newly introduced online queueing system has added a new seamlessness to the experience.

roti canai and daal at Roti King, a classic London restaurant

Chef Ed Wilson’s hearty French Italian menu is a showcase for his own personal love of food. To eat here is to share that passion, especially now with an increased emphasis on fresh pasta and spectacular comfort food. Wines are predominantly natural and biodynamic. Illustrated wine posters, art, and curios on whitewashed brick walls also make the two relaxed dining rooms on Columbia Road among London’s most handsome and cool. Here also lie the city’s smallest and most beautiful bathrooms — among the very first to use Aesop, to boot.

Brawn, on Columbia Road in Hackney, one of the best restaurants in London

Kate's Cafe and Restaurant

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At chef Kate Armah’s outstanding East London neighbourhood Ghanaian restaurant, the sharing platter, which includes tsofi, chicken wings, kebabs, plantain, and more, is a manifestation of bountiful hospitality. Other highlights include akonfem (guinea fowl), red red (fried plantain with black eye bean stew and gari foto), and any of the soups — which come served with choice of starchy sides such as fufu, kenkey, kokonte, or rice.

Takeaway boxes on top of the counter at Kate’s Cafe, one of London’s outstanding Ghanaian restaurants
Kate’s Cafe serves some of the city’s outstanding Ghanaian cuisine
Michaël Protin/Eater London

Quality Wines

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After a refurbishment of both kitchen and premises, this haven on the Farringdon Road is back to the form that has made it one of the most essential of the city’s essential kitchens in recent years. Chef Nick Bramham’s cooking now leans more towards the Aegean, with the likes of giouvarlakia bringing herbed meatballs bobbing in avgolemono. The menu will change weekly and will travel across southern Europe, but look out for Bramham’s clever riffs on BLTs, lobster rolls, and perfectly seasoned pasta dishes after peerless gildas, before flawless sour cherry cannoli.

Pig fat cannoli at Quality Wines in Farringdon, the Eater London dish of the year in the Eater London Awards 2019 Mason Noteboom/Quality Wines

Michelin-starred Brat, which lives above Smoking Goat in Shoreditch, is named after the old English colloquialism for turbot. Grilled seafood (including whole turbot) sourced from Cornwall is the focus. Lamb from Wales, beef from the English southwest, and mostly grilled seasonal fruit and vegetables from all over are given plenty of attention, too. Chef Tomos Parry differentiates himself slightly from other grill chefs, aiming to emulate methods used in the north of Spain — namly the use of wood fire to cook his range of ingredients slowly. A comparatively classical 100-bin wine list has been organised by the team from Noble Rot, which is another way of saying it is very good.

This handsome, minimalist, blond wood-and-concrete Shoreditch restaurant is a marriage of its co-owner James Lowe’s British heritage (St. John Bread & Wine) and his many stints across the globe, including one at Noma. Lowe is a gifted chef and one of London’s foremost proponents of quality British produce. His relaxed brand of fine dining regularly celebrates mutton, game, and goat, as well as wood-fired seafood and seasonal English vegetables.

The dining room at Lyle’s, in Shoreditch Ola Smit

Sushi Tetsu

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Clerkenwell’s Sushi Tetsu might be the hardest reservation in London, in part because there are only seven seats. It also pound-for-pound serves the best (value) sushi in the city. To observe Toru Takahashi’s knife skills and to eat his omakase menu while receiving Harumi Takahashi’s gently flawless hospitality (the two are married) is to experience one of London’s most complete and completely brilliant restaurants. Send an email to receive information on how to book.

Otto's French Restaurant London

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Here is a restaurant that unashamedly and decadently revisits the past, where cooking theatrically is done tableside and one can marvel at the (traditional silverware required for the) preparation of canard à la presse (pressed duck). This is Otto’s trademark, dressed with a rich brandy-heavy gravy made from the pressed carcass of the duck and served alongside the world’s most otherworldly carbohydrate: pommes soufflées. When a restaurateur opens an eponymous restaurant, especially in the possessive, it can be narcissistic or lazy — or both. In the case of Otto’s, it could not be more appropriate.

Otto and his duck outside Otto’s.
ALL the duck, as they say.
Ola Smit

Sessions Arts Club

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Florence Knight’s Sessions Arts Club pairs one of the city’s most stunning dining rooms with one of its low-key best and cleverest kitchens. No dish better demonstrates Knight’s skill and ingenuity than the fried potato, smoked eel, and cod’s roe, which sees the eel embedded inside the carbohydrate like a smoky fish-and-chip millefeuille. Other must-tries include the squid with calamarata pasta; crab croquettes; and rabbit, cotechino, cabbage, and mustard. If a Diptyque candle became a room, then this would be it.

Dishes being carried into the dining room from the kitchen at Sessions Arts Club, chef Florence Knight’s spectacular Clerkenwell restaurant
Dishes being carried into the dining room from the kitchen at Sessions Arts Club
Michaël Protin

St. John Bread and Wine

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While the original St. John is rightly regarded as the most important British restaurant in a generation, Bread & Wine, the sister site in Spitalfields, is a better and more interesting restaurant today. If food were a religion, then this would be its church. Welsh rarebit, bone marrow and parsley salad, foie gras on toast, mussels with cider, devilled kidneys; half a dozen madeleines; and a whole roast suckling pig are classics. Lunch here is one of the purest, most heavenly restaurant experiences in London.

Welsh rarebit, liver toast, and madeleines at St. John Bread and Wine

Koya Soho

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Shuko Oda’s little bar in Soho is among London’s most acclaimed Japanese restaurants. Over a long, blond wooden counter, chefs calmly and politely pass hot bowls of steaming broth containing noodles made on-site, topped with proteins like tempura prawn or smoked mackerel, or seasonal green vegetables from Sussex farm Namayasai. The specials board of small plates changes every day and exhibits some of the city’s best modern British cooking; the traditional Japanese breakfast is the most steadying in London.

Food House

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One of the comparatively recent new wave of Sichuan and Xi’an restaurants in Chinatown, Food House (風味食堂) is run by a younger generation of chefs and restaurateurs. Indeed, it might be the hippest restaurant in central London. Hordes of immaculately dressed shoppers and students gather for hot pots, whole fish in chilli oil, numbing Chongqing noodles, cumin-studded grilled skewers, and Chinese hamburgers while competing with the staff for the coolest look. This extremely trendy restaurant is a scene all of its own, but not unwelcoming; it’s perfect for either a date or a group booking.

Inside Food House in London’s Chinatown
Inside Food House in London’s Chinatown
Ejatu Shaw/Eater London

Ben Chapman is a learner and perfectionist, and curiosity took him to northern Thailand on a research trip in 2016. The findings have been on exhibition at Kiln in Soho ever since, most recently via the prodigious talents of chefs Meedu Saad and Kim SongSoo. In-house butchery of rare-breed British meat means prices are unusually fair; day boat fish means seafood curries are extra fresh. Thai veg and herbs are grown for him in Cornwall and Devon with all cooking is done not with electricity or gas, but over charcoal.

Inside the kitchen at Kiln — hot woks over charcoal with two chefs either side of the burners
Inside the kitchen at Kiln
Michaël Protin


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Chef Normah Abd Hamid and her family team offer a Malaysian comfort menu that makes the restaurant one of the best in the city from a nook of a unit in Queensway Market. Sour, hot assam pedas; roti to rival London’s King in Euston; and beef rendang or nasi lemak to go alongside. Normah’s is quaint and Normah is brilliant — this remains one of central London’s best restaurants to visit with a small group of friends; one to take out-of-towners visiting the city.

Curry prawn laksa at Normah’s in Bayswater, one of the best-value restaurants in London
Curry prawn laksa at Normah’s
Michaël Protin/Eater London


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Mayfair’s Michelin-starred Indian restaurant Gymkhana is one of a few places in London that manages to straddle the line between celebrity hype and quality cooking. Tandoori masala lamb chops, chicken butter masala, and the trademark wild muntjac biryani remain stand-outs. The prices match the level of cooking and the surrounds, making the this one for special occasions.

Muntjac biryani at Michelin-starred Gymkhana, a favourite of the fashion crowd. Gymkhana [Official Photo]

40 Maltby St

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A treasure. Unmoved by the comings and goings of trends, Bermondsey’s 40 Maltby St is a 40-cover answer to the question, pejorative as it may often be: What is British food? Steve Williams is a chef’s chef — cited by James Lowe, Brett Graham, and Florence Knight in their top five in the city. Raef Hodgson of distributor Gergovie Wines — which features low-intervention styles — runs the front of house without hubris. Check Instagram for the menu, which is always going to feature in-jokes and delicious dishes such as pork schnitzel with raw celeriac, mustard, and braised potatoes, onion, and thyme, or a chestnut and brown sugar meringue.

Kaieteur Kitchen

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Chef Faye Gomes’ peerless Guyanese market stall has relocated to Castle Square following the controversial demolition of Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre next to which Gomes had traded for 17 years. For the chef’s trademark, long-prepared and slow-cooked traditional dishes like pepper pot, garlic pork, and cow foot souse, check in advance on Gomes’ Instagram. Or turn up for a surprise, to try dishes which draw on the many culinary influences and colonial legacies of Guyana: dal puri roti; pholourie; fried fish with tomato; potato, green mango, okra, and coconut curry; stewed brown chicken which, like the pepper pot, is coloured and enriched with cassareep, a liquid extraction from cassava root, as well as clove and cinnamon; and stew pumpkin.

Guyanese meat and rice at Kaieteur Kitchen in Elephant and Castle, one of the best value restaurants in central London Tomas Jivanda/Eater London

Saikei Chinese Restaurant

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This vast restaurant dining room sits quite inexplicably on the ground floor of a Holiday Inn Express budget hotel just off the A102 on the south exit of the Blackwall Tunnel. But this is a destination dining room of tremendous pedigree, which is built for midweek and weekend lunches, preferably with large groups. A mid-length, high-quality dim sum menu features a must-try fried prawn and Chinese chive number which stakes a fair claim to being the best single-bite hot item in the city — a crispy, fatty, sweet, salty umami nugget. Among the noodle plates to share, king prawns are excellent, with the noodles taking on the requisite smoke from the wok, seasoned judiciously. Saikei is a close-to-perfect family and group dining experience.

Saikei’s spacious dining room — with a green carpet, large round tables, and restaurant patrons sitting down to eat with waiters walking the room, taking orders
Saikei’s spacious dining room

Alhaji SUYA (Peckham)

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Alhaji Suya serves some of the best Nigerian barbecue in London: superb chicken, lamb, beef and tozo — a meltingly fatty beef cut — suya, electric with Aliyu Dantsoho’s own yaji, a fierce, invigorating blend of chilli, peanut, ginger, and other secret seasonings. The beautiful smoky meat is wrapped in brown paper and served simply with chopped fresh white onions, and chunks of tomatoes. Truly, a West African-London speciality. He’s also serving kilishi, a jerky ori