Hidden in the heart of Chinatown, Opium Cocktail Bar & Dim Sum Parlour is a secretive spot for late night foodies, boozies, and trendsetters from all around London. Set in arguably the most touristy district of London, Opium is a gem among this area and very worthwhile.
After entering the main entrance of Opium, I was greeted with dim lighting and a winding staircase up multiple floors. This built my anticipation to see what I would see at the top. Each room sets a different mood for guests. After a pre-dinner drink in the Apothecary Bar, I found the rest of the rooms to fulfill its name perfectly: The Attic, The Academy, The Tea Parlour. The restaurant even has a secret bar, Peony, where the bartender sets the menu. The Academy hosts a big kitchen island to give the bar feel very personal and is available for walk-ins only. This setting was perfect for my guest and I to talk to the bartender and waiter and learn more about Opium.
The Food & Drink
If this was a competition between food and drink, I would be at a completely loss over which I prefer. Luckily, the only winner in this situation is anyone that eats and drinks at Opium, because you get to consume both. With such an extensive cocktail menu, deciding on one seems awfully difficult. The waiter brought over two cocktails, Opium #6 (£13) and The Devil Doctor (£13.50), both of which has incredible presentation that stirred conversation enough for the second round and the dim sum to arrive. Before we talk Dim Sum masterpieces, we can’t forget about Opium’s signature Coffe Tequila (£4.50). Maybe I’m biased because these are my two favorite drinks mixed into one swift shot, but this is one thing I’ll never be sick of. As if I wasn’t already on cloud nine, Opium knows dim sum very well. My guest and I shared four baskets of dim sum-- crab and samphire dumplings (£8), pork and prawn dumplings (£6.50), mushroom and truffle dumplings (£6.5), and traditional pork buns (£6). All of which were beautifully presented with taste to match. My personal favorite was the mushroom and truffle because it was the least traditional batch. Opium proves their right to be amongst the best of the best in terms of dim sum with their ability to excel at both traditional and unique plates.
The ambiance of Opium is definitely on the posher side. With the long walk upstairs and exploring all the different areas and rooms of the restaurant, it is hard not to feel like you’ve entered an exclusive den of Chinatown. Although once settling into our own little corner, its clear that Opium has a feel for everyone to get in on. There were couples, groups of friends, and colleagues all there for drinks and sharers. The space is intimate and friendly for all to enjoy. It was easy to strike up a conversation with strangers across the bar or even hear a bit from the bartender.
All in all, Opium is doing lots of things right. The food is both traditional and different for the foodies. The drinks are well presented (did I mention Opium #6 smokes) and strong, both important factors. The venue has a place to dwell for romantics, schmoozers/small talkers, and old friends alike. If you can find Opium hidden amidst the bright lights, colors, and sounds of Chinatown, step inside for a drink (or two) and a few baskets of dim sum. If you’re looking for me, try to find Peony.