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British Chinese cuisine is a style of Chinese cuisine developed by British Chinese in the United Kingdom, typically adapted to British tastes, but increasingly inspired by authentic Cantonese dishes. It is considered a major part of British cuisine and one of their most popular foods. It often consists of fried food with the inclusion of chips and curry sauce, which are not known for being traditionally Chinese, but are food staples in the UK.
In the early 1880s, Chinese food items and eating houses appeared in London and Liverpool, mainly visited by Chinese seamen and students.
From 1841 to 1997, Hong Kong and the New Territories served as the final colonial stronghold of the British Empire for a significant period spanning. This region became an integral part of an established trade route, attracting numerous European shipping companies that would enlist Southern Chinese men as seafarers, who in turn traveled and resettled in the United Kingdom. While these sailors and subsequent generations of Chinese migrants were not bestowed with citizenship or granted complete rights, many of them, driven by impoverished circumstances and the pursuit of improved livelihoods, established their homes in Britain. To sustain the burgeoning Chinese communities and cater to the needs of the transient sailors, they resorted to setting up informal noodle shops. This practice reached its pinnacle between the two World Wars.
London had its first recorded Chinese restaurant open in 1907 or 1908.
During the mid-1900s, after the Second World War, a significant shift occurred in UK immigration policies, permitting increased migration to address the post-war demand for labor. As a result, a "restaurant boom" emerged within the Chinese community. Between 1957 and 1964, the number of Chinese food establishments experienced a twofold increase, with a considerable portion of these establishments catering to the tastes and preferences of non-Chinese clientele. The restaurants were operated largely by Hong Kongers who moved to the UK.
In 2011, the Ming-Ai (London) Institute launched the British Chinese Food Culture project with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, aimed at exploring and tracking the changes in Chinese food throughout its history in the United Kingdom.
In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic negatively impacted many Chinese restaurants in the UK, with a number of restaurants in London's Chinatown in particular facing financial difficulty as a result of prejudice against Chinese takeaways, based on fears described by the BBC as "unfounded".
Chinese food is considered a major part of British cuisine. In 2017, over 80% of Londoners reported having been to a Chinese takeaway.
Some Chinese takeaway restaurants in Britain have developed original recipes such as jar jow, a stir-fried dish of sliced char siu, bamboo shoots, onions and green pepper seasoned with chilli powder and tomato paste. By the late 2010s, the popularity of old fashioned dishes like jar jow had faded in favour of American-style Chinese dishes such as chop suey and Americanised chow mein in Chinese takeaways, whereas many other restaurants throughout Britain increasingly offer authentic Chinese dishes.