British Chinese cuisine refers to a style of Chinese cuisine developed by British Chinese in the United Kingdom,[1][2][3] typically adapted to British tastes[4] but increasingly inspired by authentic Cantonese dishes.[5] It is considered a major part of British cuisine.[6]


In the early 1880s, Chinese food items and eating houses appeared in London and Liverpool, mainly visited by Chinese seamen and students.[7]

In 1884, Chinese food was made available as part of a 'restaurant' in the International Health Exhibition in South Kensington, London.[8]

In 1907[9] or 1908,[7] the first recorded Chinese restaurant was opened in London. The rise in the number of Chinese restaurants in the UK only began after the Second World War, and has been attributed to returning service personnel from Hong Kong.[8] The restaurants were operated by Hong Kongers who moved to the UK.[10]

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.[11][7]

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[12] as a result of prejudice against Chinese takeaways, based on fears described by the BBC as "unfounded".[12]

Cuisine and regional variations

Chinese food is considered a major part of British cuisine.[6] In 2017, over 80% of Londoners reported having been to a Chinese takeaway.[8]

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.[13] By the late 2010s, the popularity of old fashioned dishes like jar jow have faded in favour of American-style Chinese dishes such as chop suey and Americanised chow mein in Chinese takeaways,[13] whereas many other restaurants throughout Britain increasingly offer authentic Chinese dishes.[5][14]

See also


  1. ^ Bickers, R. (1999). Britain in China: Community, Culture and Colonialism, 1900-49. Studies in Imperialism. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-5697-0. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Roberts, J.A.G. (2004). China to Chinatown: Chinese Food in the West. Globalities Series. Reaktion Books. ISBN 978-1-86189-227-0. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  4. ^ 刘小卓 (2018-08-13). "Britain's love affair with Chinese food - World". (in Chinese). Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  5. ^ a b Dunlop, Fuchsia (2019-09-15). "The UK's Chinese food revolution". The Guardian. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  6. ^ a b "Chinese Food in Britain Has Come a Long Way Since the 80s". Chinese Food in Britain Has Come a Long Way Since the 80s. 9 July 2014. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  7. ^ a b c "British Chinese Food - - 英國中餐 - British Chinese Heritage Centre - British Chinese Heritage Centre". British Chinese Heritage Centre (in Chinese). Retrieved 2020-06-15.
  8. ^ a b c Sukhadwala, Sejal (2017-04-12). "How Long Have Londoners Been Eating Chinese Food For?". Londonist. Retrieved 2020-06-14.
  9. ^ "Chinese diaspora in Britain" (PDF). British Museum. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 June 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2011.
  10. ^ "Chinese restaurants". The British Library. Retrieved 2020-06-16.
  11. ^ "BRITISH CHINESE FOOD CULTURE". Ming Ai London. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
  12. ^ a b Gillett, Victoria Lindrea & Francesca (2020-02-03). "Coronavirus fear hits London's Chinatown". BBC News. Retrieved 2020-06-15.
  13. ^ a b Dunlop, Fuchsia (19 March 2021). "How the British-Chinese takeaway took off". Financial Times. Retrieved 4 April 2021.
  14. ^ "Meet the people shaking up Chinese cuisine in the UK". Hospitality News. 2020-01-09. Retrieved 2020-06-14.