One of the best things about living in London is that there are lots of yum cha options which was not so easy to find in Switzerland, or to a lesser extent, Southampton and the Netherlands where I used to live. I have already talked about Ping Pong as a more upmarket and modern choice in London but I'm going to take us through some of the more traditional Chinese Dim Sum/Yum Cha options.
There are 3 places I have tried and would recommend: Imperial China and Gerrard's Corner in Chinatown, and Royal China who have restaurants across London and overseas. All of these restaurants are different to the yum cha I am used to in Sydney where food comes by in trolleys, so the experience is a little different but the food is still pretty good. There is one restaurant in London, New World, which has the traditional service of the trolleys, but I was disappointed with the quality of the food so I would recommend sticking with the paper orders for the sake of better dim sum that is more fresh.
Imperial China was the first yum cha I had in London and was good in terms of the variety and quality of the food. The service is good and the restaurant has a nice feel to it. I have also had dinner here with a big group of friends to celebrate Chinese New Year which everyone enjoyed, but being Chinese, the restaurant meals were not as traditional as I had hoped. Nevertheless, I do recommend Imperial China for yum cha as it is easy to get a table (especially if you are in a large group) and the food is fresh and of good quality.
Gerrard's Corner is very similar to Imperial China although the restaurant has a more relaxed and casual feel to it and the menu is smaller than Imperial China or Royal China. The food is very good though and is extremely good value with most dishes costing less than £3 each. Gerrard's Corner was recommended to me by our fellow Asian-foodies Alastair and Patricia and they were right as always - we will definitely be making this a regular.
Finally there is the Royal China group, the biggest and most upmarket of them all. We have only eaten here once as it is not as convenient as Chinatown, plus it's extremely popular and busy on weekends, but the food was excellent. We went with Dave's colleague Jason who is a big fan of Royal China. Jas is a fellow Malaysian who was working in the UK but has now returned to Singapore where there is also an upmarket Royal China restaurant within Raffles Hotel. We had some very good dim sum with the highlight being the lobster noodles which was a real treat and not too expensive when shared between the four of us. I have yet to try it but based on the noodles, I would guess that Royal China is also a good option for a Chinese meal although being more upmarket, it is also the most expensive of the group.
Speaking of upmarket, it is worth mentioning Yauatcha as another option if you are looking for simple Chinese food but of very high quality, in a modern and cool setting. It is the restaurant version of Ping Pong and serves other dishes in addition to dim sum. Yauatcha is also the sister restaurant of the very trendy Hakkasan which Jack has tried as we were drawn to the Hakka aspect of the restaurant! Both places are excellent but you pay much more than normal Asian prices.
I think by now you should be able to find somewhere to go to satisfy your dim sum/yum cha cravings which is what I am going to do now...