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Jeremy Chan’s guide to London

Chef Jeremy Chan and the London skyline.

Cristiana Ferrauti/iStock

Jeremy Chan’s guide to London

The Ikoyi chef shares his favorite spots in the UK capital, from cozy pubs by the river to innovative pastries close to home.
26 June, 2024

"This is going to sound crazy, but I’m not a big fan of service and going to restaurants [where] too much thought's gone into every aspect of the guest experience. I like going to places where people are friendly and attentive, but kind of just leave you to it. And I think London's good for that."

Chef Jeremy Chan doesn’t get to eat out that often. That’s what comes with running London's two-Michelin-starred Ikoyi, one of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. However, when he does, it’s usually to go to a cozy pub with great food, a casual restaurant with an on-point wine list, or for dim sum, which reminds him of the family meals of his childhood in Hong Kong.

"I tend to stay away from more like fine-dining restaurants. I really love my work, and I love the food that we cook, but I think if I eat complex food on my day off, it reminds me too much of work," he says.

For Chan, who lives in South London, the city’s biggest strengths lie in its variety of cuisines and restaurants, and a lack of stuffiness.

"London has many, really strong, multicultural casual restaurants, but when I say casual, there's still a lot of work that's gone into them. They're casual in that you don't need to go in and be well dressed or it's not like a serious dining experience. There are a lot of restaurants that cook really delicious food with good products. They’re approachable and anyone can go there," he says.

Below, is Chan’s guide to where to eat in London, with an emphasis on the kind of local spots that will give any visitor to the city a taste of the real London.

"All the places I'm recommending are very neighborhood specific,” he says. “I like them all for the same reason: they all give you a slice of life of the neighborhood in which they're in. I think that's nice to feel like you're in an area and you’re seeing how that area lives."

The Baring

A dish at The Baring in London.

JW Howard Photography

“It’s a really good Sunday roast. Sometimes you don't want it to be ‘fine’, you want it to be like when you were a kid, but this one is well sourced, very well cooked, very well seasoned. And you can tell that it's refined, but it's not refined in a way that's cheffy or fine dining. Their starters are more Mediterranean, Middle Eastern influenced. They do a really good quail shish. It's a neighborhood place, but feels like it should also be a destination.”

Brawn

Agnolotti at Brawn in London.

John Carey

“A lot of restaurants are trying to do [what Brawn have] been doing for a while. I wouldn't want to describe their cuisine, but they do pasta, simple plates with anchovies, good simple meat dishes. They have a really nice wine list. It feels very homey. And it's also on Columbia Road, [it’s] nice dining there at night. A good place to eat with friends.”

Dorian

“I'm impressed with Max [Coen], his cooking style has really developed (he used to work with us at Ikoyi). It’s cool to see how successful the restaurant's become with locals in Notting Hill. The food is big flavors and tasty and very well cooked, but it's not fussy. At the same time, it's precise and elegant. It’s also kind of a wine bar that does simple, smallish plates, doing them more heartily, more steakhousey. I think [this] makes it quite cool and original.” 

The Guinea Grill

The Guinea Grill in London.

Matt Austin

“It's a steakhouse pub, kind of neat, a little restaurant in the back. I guess it's sort of comfort food. It's a good spot to go with one other person, or a small group. London has industry restaurants that are on lists, in the press and then it has another tier of restaurants that are not in the spotlight necessarily but still busy, still buzzy, and fun to go to and I think it's one of those places.” 

Kiln

Kiln in London.

Ben McMahon

“I had a meal there recently (I’ve been going for years), and it was amazing. As I was eating, I was thinking, this is probably one of the best restaurants in the country. The ingredients were just really well sourced: mutton, cuttlefish, beautiful pork, beautiful monkfish, mackerel. I think to have really good produce, and to have it cooked in that way, and to have it at that price point is really unique. I think we work with a lot of the same producers.”

Royal China Club

A dish at Royal China Club in London.

“I'm not looking for really innovative, out there dim sum [when I eat out], I'm looking for something homey and family-style. Royal China in Baker Street is probably the one I go to most, because of the location: it’s a good spot to go walking afterwards, around Marylebone, or you can walk up to Regent's Park. The service reminds me of being in Hong Kong too.” 

Toad

Pastries at Toad bakery in London.

Teo Della Torre

“It's a five-minute walk from my house. I really like how fun and welcoming their team is when you go and get a pastry. I really like their croissant. I think it's the fun aspect coupled with deliciousness and the clever way of playing with flavor combinations. Also, a lot of locals go there.” 

The Waterman’s Arms

The Waterman's Arms in London.

Matt Hague

“Again, it's refined but it's not overly worked, it's very comforting, really good Sunday roast. If you don’t live in Barnes, it’s a bit of a destination and it makes it a fun journey to go there. And it's also on the river so you can see the people rowing and you can go for a walk along [it] afterwards. It’s a beautiful old building on the corner. Go with a group of friends and order all the roasts.”