Why We Love: #7, Panda Dim Sum Café

The prices are wait-did-I-read-that-right great, says Miranda Eason of this tasty High Road joint

Dim sum. Photo: ME
Dim sum. Photo: ME
One of our favourite places for a low key weekend lunch or any-night-of-the-week dinner, Panda specialises in Chinese dim sum with a couple of Sichuan dishes thrown in for good measure.

The interior style is no-frills London house rental with Chinese touches: magnolia walls, red Chinese lanterns, an oversized cherry blossom decorated fan, mother of pearl panels depicting birds and trees, you know the kind of thing. An open kitchen is at the back, and simple wooden chairs and tables are dotted about.

There are blown-up pictures of the dishes in the window, and on the menu, but if that’s giving you teenage-holiday-in-the-Med flashbacks, don’t let it put you off.

Fried vegetable dumplings. Photo: ME
Fried vegetable dumplings. Photo: ME
The menu is divided into steamed dumplings, fried dumplings, soup, noodles and rice, and house specials. It’s a family run business and the staff are, without exception, super-friendly.

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On a recent visit for a late Saturday lunch, when it was quiet, but not uncomfortably so, I ordered the pork and prawn siu mai steamed dumplings (four, perfectly cooked and so good I could easily have eaten a second portion), fried vegetable dumplings (four, huge, lightly crisp and stuffed with veg) and a portion of special fried noodles (I was post-parkrun hungry, and possibly a little hungover, ok?).

While the noodles were perfectly fine, to be honest it’s all about the dim sum here. The ideal scenario is to go with a bunch of mates who are happy to share and leave those types who prefer to keep their food to themselves at home. Order (at least) one of everything from the dim sum menu. You can’t go wrong.

Noodles. Photo: ME
Noodles. Photo: ME
Prices are wait-did-I-read-that-right great. The dim sum are mostly around the £3-£3.50 mark and the most expensive dishes – Sichuan sliced fish or the intriguing sounding stewed seafood balls with vegetables and sweet potato noodles – are £12 and £15 respectively.

My two portions of dumplings, noodles and Diet Coke came in at a very reasonable £13.70 but if you stuck to dim sum you could easily have dinner here for under a tenner. I’m not sure how many places you could do that anywhere – at least to eat food that’s so damn good.

This is box title
Find Panda at 767 High Road Leytonstone E11 4QS. Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 5pm – 11pm; Friday, Saturday, Sunday 12pm – 11pm. Monday closed. Telephone 020 3652 4781.
  • Show Comments

  • Ben Smith

    I love, love, love this place. Fully deserved success.

  • Anna Carney

    We adore this place but it does use frozen ready-made dim sum U0001f615

  • Henry Suchar Suchanek

    Did anyone else feel like in a David Lynch film when eating there? One song on repeat, nice but awkward staff and a surreal feeling to the whole place. I liked it:)

  • Leytonstoner

    Bought in or made by who we wonder?

  • Katy Baron

    Trish this is the place recommended to us a few weeks ago

  • Gemma Hughes

    We enjoyed the dim sum but the stir fry was made with frozen garden peas and carrots which was a big let down….

  • Max Anthony de Courcy-Wilson

    Yo Den take your cousins here then innit.