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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Big trouble in little Chinatown as rent rises force restaurant owners out

Londoners and tourists have enjoyed the oriental food and ambience in this city centre enclave since the 1950s. Now the red lanterns may soon vanish for ever


Jon Man points at the busy KFC a few doors along from his own restaurant on Wardour Street, one of the small number of bustling streets that make up London’s Chinatown. “That’s the best business around here,” he says. “That’s the one I would choose.”


Man’s parents emigrated from Hong Kong in the 1950s to work in Britain’s growing restaurant trade, bolstered as it was by the willingness of those freshly returned from foreign frontlines to taste new foods. His mother washed up while his father made Shanghai noodles, because few others could, before turning his hand to supplying foodstuffs from Covent Garden to the burgeoning number of local restaurants.


Related: Gentrification is ripping the heart out of communities


Related: The Observer view on the threat to London’s Chinatown: its loss will be no one’s gain | Observer editorial


Related: Food For Thought, London's iconic vegetarian restaurant, set for closure


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