Last Updated on December 28, 2020 by Fiona Maclean
Great Seafood in Chinatown
A wide choice of fish and shellfish is on offer at Orient London, a contemporary Chinese restaurant specialising in seafood. The standard way to pick a restaurant in China Town is to duck and dive away from the restaurant staff trying to lure you into their own place and start looking for a packed restaurant with queues of Asian diners. But, if you enjoy fish, Orient London might not be a bad place to start.
Orient London is easy to find, at the Leicester Square end of Wardour Street on the intersection with Lisle Street and right next to Chinatown’s newest gate. Decorated in Qing Dynasty style, the gate was finished only in 2016 and is apparently the largest Chinese gate in the country. The Cantonese restaurant serves classic dishes are delicate and seldom overly spiced so this is also a perfect place for those who want to avoid the hotter Chinese cuisines.
We settled down to dissect the very long menu over drinks. I went for a Chinese restaurant favourite, the Tsingtao beer. My companion was more adventurous and picked the Vermentino, one of the white wines available by the glass here. A French wine from the Languedoc, the Vermentino has light fruity notes of peach, pear, mango and pineapple and my friend declared it highly drinkable and well chilled.
Feeling a little greedy and wanting to sample as many starters as possible, we shared the seafood mixed hors d’oeuvres for two: a heaving plate of seaweed, chilli and pepper squid, satay prawn skewers, crispy scallops and sesame prawn toast served with satay sauce and a sweet and sour dipping sauce. The star of the show was the tender squid, which came with crispy nibs of salted garlic and spring onion as well as chilli and we couldn’t stop ourselves picking until they were all gone. Orient London’s take on the familiar prawn toast was particularly good too, unctuous with a good sesame crunch.
My companion had announced herself full after the starters but was immediately revived by the arrival of our mains. We had chosen the sea bass steamed with ginger and spring onion from a huge list of enticing fish options. The sea bass was huge, more than enough for a whole table of diners let alone just two of us. It was expertly filleted and deboned at the table by our helpful waitress. The juicy flesh and tender taste of the fish weren’t drowned out by the delicious sauce. I was still thinking about this dish the next day and would be very tempted to order it again next time I visit Orient London despite there being so many other interesting fish dishes on the menu.
Orient London may be a seafood specialist but there are plenty of dishes for meat lovers and vegetarians too. The sizzling duck in black bean and chilli sauce was indeed sizzling dramatically when it arrived at our table. The rich sauce plus the green pepper and onions were a good match for the duck and full of flavour. The meat itself was a little hit and miss with some pieces beautifully tender, while others were a little too chewy for my taste. Otherwise the dish was very successful.
Our choice of pak choi with garlic and ginger was crunchy and fresh and a good foil for the rich duck in particular. There is a quite a choice of unusual rice dishes on offer here but we were both in the mood for the classic egg fried rice. This was a particularly good example – moreish, not at all greasy and the perfect accompaniment to our other dishes.
Sadly, our appetites were defeated when it came to time for dessert. Next time!
Orient London is a stylish, modern restaurant, refurbished about four years ago and currently well laid out for “pandemic” dining. Perspex screens have been erected to section off parts of the restaurant, for example. Staff here were all in masks and our temperatures were checked on arrival.
I am looking forward to returning to Orient London soon and gradually working my way through some of the other tempting dishes on the menu and to try their daytime dim sum offering. This lovely restaurant is recommended for anyone who likes good seafood and Chinese cuisine. While like many of ChinaTown’s restaurants it’s currently closed, we hope it will emerge phoenix like from the ashes very, very soon!
15 Wardour Street
London W1D 6PH
020 7989 8880
The team from London-Unattached has reviewed Orient London a year or so ago and we rated it no less highly then. We also love The Duck and Rice, a Chinese Gastropub in Soho which is also temporarily closed.