The Eater 38 aims to highlight London’s essential restaurants. It includes a range of prices, spans 19 cuisines and features time-honoured restaurants whose class and quality have resisted a frenetic, fad-fascinated culture as well as those that have more recently made the city a better place to eat.
This list — for the first-time visitor and the lifelong Londoner — makes one thing certain: In London, it is now possible to eat as well as anywhere in the world.
Singburi, as well as being the best restaurant in Leytonstone, is one of the top Thai restaurants in London. A full, a la carte menu is available, which includes many recognisable Thai classics, yet the reason Singburi is special is its regularly changing, blackboard specials. From there, one or two never change, including the exceptional, twice-fried moo krob — chunks of crisp and sticky pork belly served with chilli and basil. Beyond that, there’s almost always a salad, like mangosteen with chilli, citrus, and cucumber; a whole fish, steamed with ginger and soy; and, occasionally, an intense and delicious chicken liver curry.
2. Xi’an Impression
Tucked on a little side street facing Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, chef Wei Guirong’s Xi’an Impression might look innocuous. Inside, this small, minimalist and welcoming Chinese restaurant proves first impressions can be wrong. Hand-pulled Chinese noodles are their thing: pale pappardelle-like ribbons in, for vegetarians, a deep, umami-rich sauce of soybean paste and zinging Sichuan peppercorns (one between two is good as a main). Fine salt and pepper squid is a textbook starter; garlic and ginger Chinese greens are almost always the correct side.
3. P. Franco
The carousel of rotating chefs at this Hackney wine bar and shop are currently responsible for some of the capital’s most arresting gourmet artistry. This is the pared-back playground for some of the world’s most innovative and movable chefs. Amazingly — given use of only three inductions hobs — over the past two years, chefs William Gleave, Tim Spedding, George Tomlin and Giuseppes Lacorazza and Belvedere, respectively, have positioned P. Franco as one of the most exciting and ‘now’ showcases in town. River Cafe and Rochelle Canteen alumna Anna Tobias followed, with new chef Túbo Logier now turning out the likes of white asparagus with fish sauce “caramel” and chicken skin; pigs brains on toast with sauce gribiche; golden beetroot, blood orange, egg yolk sauce, and lardo; and a tarragon and white chocolate popsicle.
4. Westerns Laundry
A relatively recent emphasis — in no small part because of a growing relationship between London restaurants and Cornish suppliers — is being placed on English waters. Westerns Laundry, by the same operators, Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim and David Gingell, of Primeur and Jolene, is one of London’s best seafood restaurants. The cuttlefish and ham croquette was one of 2017’s standout dishes; langoustine with bloody marie rose is as good as minimal shellfish service gets.