Classic Chinese Restaurant in Soho – Orient London Review:(invited press review)
Chinatown in Soho London is full of bakeries, supermarkets and of course Chinese restaurants. Other than the old trick of looking for a packed restaurant with queues of Asian diners, it can be hard to work out which Chinese Restaurant in Soho to pick.
Despite having worked in the area when I first moved to London I still love finding a special Chinese restaurant. So, when I was invited to visit Orient London, a name I didn’t recognise (although, at an address where I’m sure I’ve dined in the past, I was delighted. A Cantonese restaurant, the classic dishes are delicate and seldom overly spiced so this is perfect for those who want to avoid the hotter Chinese cuisines. Number 15 Wardour Street is at the intersection of Wardour Street with Lisle Street so just a few minutes’ walk from Leicester Square or Picadilly Circus.
On meeting the grandson of the original restaurant owners I discovered that the place had been refurbished and rebranded about three years previously. I’m sure I used to go to the old restaurant regularly for Sunday Dim Sum. But that would have been twenty years ago or so. Orient London now is rather elegant – with teak furniture, white linen and matching monogrammed china. And with the prettiest black and gold monogrammed chopsticks, I’ve seen in a while. There is something charming about a restaurant which has evolved with the times, is still buzzing with customers and yet which has stayed authentic to its culinary heritage.
We ordered tea, wine and water while we looked through the menu, but in the end, asked for advice about what we should order. A basket of steamed dim sum was an obvious start to the meal along with one of my personal favourites, deep fried soft shell crab.
The steamed dim sum was a classic basket with a twist; prawn har gau, wild mushroom dumplings, scallop, prawn and chive. I particularly liked the pretty, light, scallop dumpling and the rich wild mushroom dumpling.
Deep fried soft shell crab came in chopstick friendly sized pieces with spicy chilli, caramelised onion and spring onion garnish that added a real kick to the plate.
Next for us, a stunning plate of Lobster and Ginger with Spring Onion on Noodles. Again the noodles came at the suggestion of the restaurant. At this point, despite the fact that the lobster was nicely cracked for us, I did give up trying to navigate the food with chopsticks. It was far too delicious, perfectly cooked and tender with a sweet and gently spiced sauce that infused the noodles with a rich and silky sauce.
Orient London call this stage of dining an ‘intermediate’ course. All I can suggest is you arrive hungry!
For our main course, we’d been encouraged to try the Dover Sole, a chef’s speciality at Orient London. We learnt that the fish was filleted, bones removed and deep fried and then the flesh of the fish was wok fried with vegetables. A stunning dish, I’d encourage everyone to try it
Alongside the spectacular Dover Sole, we enjoyed Chinese broccoli and the owner’s recommendation of Prince fried rice made with egg white and seafood for a lighter version of the classic fried rice.
On to desserts, more for the sake of a complete review than any need of extra food.
I personally loved the black sesame balls with their sweet oozing filling
The osmanthus jelly with wolfberry was light and fragrant, though had we not been full anyway, I might have found the little pieces rather insubstantial. They actually reminded me of one of the sweet part of our afternoon tea at China Tang
All in though, a splendid meal and a venue that I will go back to. There are a selection of set menus starting at £16.90 per person and Orient London also serves a full dim sum menu at lunchtime until around 4 pm
15 Wardour Street
020 7989 8880
Disclosure: We dined as guests of Orient London but all content is editorially given.