Immediately north of Leicester Sq – but a world away in atmosphere – are Lisle and Gerrard streets, focal points for London’s growing Chinese community. Although not as big as Chinatowns in many other world-class cities – it’s just two streets really – this is a lively quarter with Oriental gates, street signs in Chinese characters, red lanterns, restaurants and noodle shops, great Asian supermarkets and gift shops. The quality of food varies enormously, but there's a good choice of places for dim sum and other cuisine from across China and other parts of Asia.
To see it at its effervescent best, time your visit for Lunar New Year in late January/early February. Some 20 years ago you would only hear Cantonese spoken here, but these days you'll hear Mandarin and other dialects, from places as far afield as Fujian, Sìchuan and Shanghai. London’s original Chinatown was at Limehouse in the East End – Sherlock Holmes shopped for his opium there – but moved here after heavy bombardments in WWII.