With a population of well over a billion it's no surprise that China has some fantastically diverse cuisines to offer. Whether you're partial to crispy duck pancakes or you go dizzy for dim sum, see in The Year of the Rooster with our pick of the best restaurants for Chinese food in the UK, from cool Cantonese to spicy Sichuan.
The best Chinese restaurants in the UK – by regional cuisine
Characterised by the sweetness of hoisin, plum, and sweet 'n' sour sauce, Cantonese is the world's favourite Chinese takeaway, and comes from the southeastern Guangdong province. Dim sum is another popular style of Cantonese cuisine, traditionally served for brunch.
Cantonese restaurant pick: Launched by Alan Yau, founder of wagamama and Hakkasan, Soho's The Duck and Rice cooks up stylish, tongue-in-cheek dishes that elevate classic Cantonese dishes to new heights, like their Chicken Chow Mein – this is an old favourite like you've never tasted it before. You'll find firm, handmade noodles, fresh julienned vegetables and spot-on seasoning.
Known for its face-numbingly fiery use of peppers, Sichuan cuisine is not just tasted, but felt. Sichuan folk cooking had a bit of a moment in the 90s when it was reinvented with more Western tastes in mind, and since then it has spread like wildfire across the country and our tastebuds.
Sichuanese restaurant pick: Get your sweat on at one of the best Chinese restaurants around, London's Barshu. Food critic Jay Rayner proclaimed that 'Sichuan cooking this good will breathe fire back into London's Chinatown'. Don't miss the dish that inspired him, a pleasantly tongue-tingling plate of crispy fried chicken almost obscured by a mound of crispy red chillies.
The food from the capital of the People's Republic doesn't shy away from bold flavours – as befits the home of the impressive imperial palaces of the Ming and Qing dynasties, it's also the home of one of the most iconic dishes in Chinese cuisine: mouthwatering Peking duck and crispy pancakes.
Beijing restaurant pick: Beijing's bustling pavements have also given rise to dumpling-centric street food, showcased at Brixton-born Mama Lan. Owner Ning Ma's mother and grandfather ran a dumpling and snack stall shortly after The Cultural Revolution, and the food now on offer at Mama Lan pays tribute to the humble stall by keeping it simple.
Where: Mama Lan, London.
Hong Kong cuisine
Hong Kong is known as the 'world's food fair', and rightly so – the variety of cooking on offer is mind-blowing, reflecting its long history as an international hub of trade. It's mainly influenced by the kinds of classic Cantonese flavours mentioned above, but you'll find a whole host of other cultures in the mix.
Hong Kong-style restaurant pick: Cha Chaan Teng is a case-in-point – a diner inspired by the Hong Kong diners of the 1950s that were themselves inspired by American diners. Describing itself as 'genuinely inauthentic', they revel in the lost-in-translation Chinese interpretations of Western dishes, with Macaroni Soups, Bao Burgers, and Popcorn Chilli Beef.
Where: Cha Chaan Teng, London. For slightly less eclectic Hong Kong cuisine outside of the capital, head to Brighton's Gars. As a nod to the high proportion of veggies in the city, try the crowd-pleasing Aubergine Kung Po Style – stir-fried in a subtly sweet chilli and garlic sauce, then garnished with crushed peanuts.
The Shanxi province is a well-known noodle nirvana, cooking up a huge variety in typically sour sauces. Dishes are hearty, but with the right amount of spice to put a spring in your step.
Jin restaurant pick: Taking its name from the province's capital, Xi'an Impression brings the gloriously unique flavours of Shanxi street food to London. The dish to try is their signature liangpi cold rice noodles in a sharp dressing.
Where: Xi'an Impression, London
A political hotbed, Hunan province was the birthplace of Chairman Mao Zedong, who famously said "you can't be a revolutionary if you don't eat chillies." Given the liberal doses of chilli in Hunanese cooking, then, it's little surprise how things turned out. Hunanese cuisine favours the sourness of vinegar-pickled chillies to bring the heat.
Hunanese restaurant pick: Get your Hunanese heat fix from Bashan, owned by the same team behind Barshu. Try their take on a Hunanese classic, Chairman Mao's Red-Braised Pork, with rich melt-in-the-mouth pork in a braised jelly sauce.
Where: Bashan, London
Tickled your tastebuds for a Chinese feast? You don't even need to head down to Chinatown to experience it – you can get it delivered to your door through Deliveroo. Find great Chinese restaurants near you on Deliveroo now.