A British Chinese love affair: London Edition

Chinese cuisine as we know today has gone through substantial changes in tastes and methods over the past few decades. With the introduction of Chinese cuisine in Britain as early as the 1600s as a result of the Anglo-China trade, understandably, the tastes and varieties of Chinese cuisine in a British context has been refined to suit the Western palate, but nonetheless, it is the traditional Chinese cooking methods and flavours that have captivated the nation’s endless love for Chinese Cuisine.

In 1880s, London’s first Chinatown was established in the Docks surrounding Limehouse area in East London, where many Chinese sailors settled there. At this point, Chinese cuisine was very much still a novelty (if you can even refer it as that), so understandably, British people had little to no knowledge (and future potential and prowess) of Chinese cuisine. However, it wasn’t until the International Health Exhibition in 1884 that Chinese cuisine was widely introduced to the British public. In fact, in 1908, the first recorded opening of a formal Chinese restaurant was located in Piccadilly Circus where, shockingly, was named ‘The Chinese Restaurant’ – fair enough.

It wasn’t until 1951 that there had been more introduction, commercially speaking, of different regional dishes from China into the London restaurant scene in Soho. This was regarded as a risky move, particularly when the British didn’t have much knowledge of the Chinese cuisine in itself, let alone specific regional dishes like Fujian and Sichuan.

Following the swinging 1960s, a cultural shift within British society has meant that Londoners were less reluctant and more willing to experiment Chinese cuisine, with the introduction of Western-style three-course meals in order to accommodate local needs whilst using the time efficiently. By the 1970s, however, the term ‘Hong Kong Style’ had emerged, describing Cantonese cuisine that integrated exotic or expensive ingredients with Western catering.

As previously mentioned, Chinese cuisine has gone through exponential changes in tastes over the decades, favouring Western palates over traditional ones to accommodate local needs; With the gradual introduction of regional dishes like Hunan-style and Dongbei-style among others overtime, Chinese cuisine has evolved backward in British society, in that it started by accommodating local needs and slowly going back to its original roots.

Today, we can see endless types of Chinese cuisine in London that boast other Asian restaurants which, collectively, have made Chinatown what it is today – an iconic ethnic enclave. At AllEat, we have every type of Chinese cuisine to cater to your needs, with an abundant choice of various types of Chinese cuisine near you.

All you need to do is download our app, and enjoy discounts up to 50% off at All Eat


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