London’s Chinatown is located right in the heart of the West End, and as you might expect, it’s a bustling area of restaurants, food stores, and Chinese culture.
Centred on Gerrard St, the area is quite compact, hemmed in between Charing Cross Road, Shaftesbury Avenue, Wardour St, and Leicester Square.
It wasn’t until after WWII that the area started to become a Chinese Quarter, and even then it didn’t really get established until the 1970s. Being a part of Soho, the area already had a colourful history, but London’s Chinese community, who had traditionally worked in the docks at Limehouse, found themselves bombed out by the Luftwaffe, and then locked out by the Dockers unions after the end of hostilities.
What they lost on the swings, they gained on the roundabouts as they say, because an influx of immigrants from Hong Kong and a British liking for Chinese food enabled the Chinese community and the British public to live in harmony right in the centre of London. The seedy back street dodgy businesses were gradually replaced by an ever increasing number of Chinese restaurants, and at the last count, there were over 80 in this fairly confined area.
It would take a far better man than me to recommend which are the best places to eat, but you don’t have to eat anything to enjoy London’s Chinatown.