Dim sum at Golden Dragon, Chinatown, London, 14/20

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THERE used to be a malign rumour that the chefs in Chinatown just walked underneath the basements from one restaurant to another with the result that you could never be sure of what you might get anymore than rolling a dice. It is not quite true – I have actually been down in the basements and they don’t connect – but where the geography of the Bayswater Chinatown has remained fairly static, Leicester Square has become a conveyor belt of lanterns, stickers and general hotch potch confusions added to by the redevelopment around the easterly car park and a seeming maj jong game of changing ownerships. Since the demise of the mighty Chueng Cheng Ku – now a fast Thai pad thai bar – dim sum off a trolley has been at a premium and now also New World is being stripped out for redevelopment, so it is with a sense of relief to fall on the Golden Dragon, two huge ground and first floor rooms. It is a Cantonese menu – plus Peking duck – in the traditional conservative sense with a photographic menu by way of bridge across to the extremities of the cooking for those not too familiar with the genre, which seems quite a few from the patchy nature of the reviews on TripAdviser. It is not cutting edge as in A Wong’s, in fact it is the reverse, old school dumplings, pork in puff pastry, rice in lotus leaves, paper tablecloths, stainless steel teapots. The dim sum menu divides between steamed and fried, to which we added a couple of safe bets like the Cantonese lacquered duck and crispy roast belly pork. It was all reassuringly what it says on the tin, mostly around the £4 a basket so it is relatively affordable if not cheap anymore – the rents are on the rise because even this corner of the capital is not immune to property inflation. That said you could seek out an inexpensive rice with mushrooms, chicken and wind dried sausage, but better not to mix the styles – dim sum or main menu –  or the numbers start to add up. Most of the complaints on TA – and there are 1500 reviews – tend to suggest it can get overrun at off peak hours which perhaps underlines the shortage of genuine alternatives. If there is a long queue, the Four Seasons – offshoot of the Bayswater branch – opposite is well known for its duck and pork roasts. Both are a cut above…

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