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Chinese Takeaways

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Chinese Takeaways

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Chinese Takeaways

Although Chinese settlers have lived in England since the 19th century, it is only fairly recently that their cooking has become so familiar. The very first establishment to cater to a Western clientele was Maxim’s in Soho, opened by a former ship’s chef, Chung Koon, as early as 1908. That was followed by the Cathay, just off Piccadilly Circus, soon to become a landmark in London catering.

It was only in the years after the second world war that the Chinese restaurant became an established feature of the high street, after soldiers who been posted to the Far East returned home with a taste for the cuisine. It was around this time that London’s Chinatown, centred on Wardour Street and Gerrard Street, came into being.

The two types of Chinese cooking that became popular were Pekingese, typified by the famous roast duck, and Cantonese, as in sweet-and-sour chicken and pork. Chinese caterers got into the takeaway business long before the curry houses did, noting how important a role fish-and-chip shops played in our national life. They have been sustaining generations of malnourished students and hungry pub-goers ever since.

Read about South Asian food here.


Your comments

Wherever one lives the Chinese Takeaway is ubiquitous in England. Not that anyone visiting from China would recognise the anglicised fare on offer in these iconic establishments. Whether you grew up in the metropolis or a rural town or village the chances are that this was your first introduction to exotic foreign food and changed our palates forever.

Steve Palmer



My favourite Icon of England has to be the Cornish Pasty.

Ian Baldry