I cannot tell you how elated I was to find an excellent dim sum place in central London. I’m Asian and from Vancouver so no surprise that dim sum is my absolute favourite type of weekend lunch. Lido Chinese Restaurant is in the heart of Chinatown next to Leicester Square. I won’t deny that this area is a tourist trap. And it’s even in the main strip with all of the red lanterns. But trust me on this, I’ve eaten a lot of dim sum in my day, and this place is both delicious and best of all, it’s CONSISTENT. I’ve now been here more than five times and it never fails to impress guests and my insatiable appetite for dumplings.
When I mention dim sum to the uninitiated, they tell me they’ve never tried it because they don’t know what to order. In traditional dim-sum places, there will be people pushing around carts of food which you can then order straight off the cart. But you have to know what you are looking for or it just becomes a case of pointing and eating. The dim sum menu at Lido is very handy indeed – illustrated colour photos and English descriptions. Oh you shouldn’t have. Every time we go, we literally just tick off everything our little heart desires and it never comes to more than £15-20 per person including beers and tip. BARGAIN. And I guarantee you will come away very satisfied. What stands out for me are the turnip cakes, Har Gau (prawn dumplings), Siu Mai (pork dumplings), mixed meat glutinous rice in lotus leaf, Prawn Cheung Fun, Shanghai dumplings and Char Sui Buns.
You can order off both the dim sum and the a-la-carte menus so you can get a nice mixture of both. This is great if you have vegetarians on your table. I won’t lie and say that dim sum is great for vegetarians because it’s not – the best things on the dim sum menu have meat or prawns/seafood in them. We ordered the Beef & Vegetables Fried Ho Fun noodles (sorry, vegetarians) to accompany our meal and it was delicious. There is a “dry” option for this dish but the sauce adds so much flavour to it and is not overwhelming at all. When it arrived we thought we weren’t going to touch it (HAH!) as we had already filled up with dumplings but this disappeared pretty quickly despite everyone groaning about how their zippers were about to pop.
If you have room after your dumpling feast I urge you to try some dessert. The best two items on the menu are the mini egg tarts and the mango pudding. OMG. I wasn’t expecting much for some reason as dessert in Chinese restaurants often disappoint me. But we exclaimed about these the entire time we were devouring them. The mini egg tarts are the perfect size, regular ones would be much too heavy to eat post dim sum. These arrived warm and the crust was perfectly light and flaky. The mango pudding wasn’t overly sweet and had pieces of actual mango in it. And best of all you can make a reservation in advance. Because queuing outside a restaurant for more than an hour is for eggheads obviously. Hallejujah.
Lido Chinese Restaurant
41 Gerrard Street
London W1D 5QJ