Chinese cuisine has long been beloved in the UK and has actually been rated the second favourite takeaway, just losing out to pizza, during lockdown. No real surprise when many people opt for Asian dining before or after anything from the theatre to cinema or live shows. And why wouldn’t you? There’s very little that’s more satisfying than sitting around a table with family or friends and gorging ourselves as we share plates of sticky pork or lemon chicken. Watching that one friend struggle with chopsticks and fighting over fortune cookies (and who’s paying the bill). Those memories might feel like a lifetime ago, but not being able to head to your favourite restaurant at the moment doesn’t mean you can’t make new memories at home as you grab Chinese to go.
With a focus on colour, smell and taste, Chinese cooking is traditionally approached with respect to the ingredients, knifework, cooking time and seasoning and we think these six restaurants can tick the box to each one of those. So if you’re ready, let’s dive into the best Chinese takeaway in Bristol.
Mayflower is another one of those restaurants that don’t immediately grab your attention and the chances of passing this unassuming establishment by, is pretty high. However, the saying don’t judge a book by it’s cover has never been truer and those in the know can tell you that all of Mayfair’s magic lies within it’s doors. And it has done for over decades now, as owner and chef, Chong Vai Kuan first established it all the way back in the 90s. Of course it was first opened in Kings Square and traded there for many years before making the move to the city centre where it’s tucked away in the Bear Pit.
Regardless of location, this authentic, family-run restaurant stuck true to its roots and serves an impressive range of Cantonese favourites in a relaxed environment with friendly service. Well respected, especially amongst the Chinese community, Mayflower stalwart for traditional cuisine.
Normally, you’d have over sixteen pages of menu to choose from, which also includes a number of set menus for the more indecisive diners, but the takeaway menu is a little more whittled down. Lucky for all of us, minimal doesn’t mean boring and their menu, however selective, is still brimming with exciting and finger licking options. Sectioned into chicken, beef, duck, seafood, prawn and pork and vegetables, there are sweet and sour options, proteins with Chinese leaf or cashew nuts, and satays. There’s roast duck Cantonese style and duck with plum or orange sauce, lemon chicken, Char Siu roast pork and crispy shredded beef. Squid in black bean sauce, fried tofu with mixed vegetables and a plethora of other sticky, spicy, sweet or salty dishes to choose from.
Kind as they are, Mayfair have also kept the set menus as part of their takeaway service, so choosing a complete meal – starters, main, sides – is as easy as selecting A, B, C or D.
If there’s a prize for ‘great location’ up for grabs, Wongs would take it. Situated in the centre of Bristol with the Hippodrome only a stone’s throw away, this is a pretty fantastic spot for a pre or post-theatre meal under normal circumstances. However, for the time being anyway, you won’t be able to enjoy the luxurious interior of Wongs, but that doesn’t stop you from indulging in their tantalising takeaway menu.
Specialities include Beijing carved roast duck and barbeque crispy pork, but it’s the Sichuan chilli boiled sea bass that really draws the eye. Sichuan is one of the most popular Chinese dishes and with good reason; by using this preparation method and boiling the protein with a coating of egg white and starch, they ensure that it not only keeps fresh and tender, but also bursts with flavour when you bite into it.
Elsewhere on this abundant menu, you’ll find starters of spring rolls, salt and pepper pork spare ribs, chicken satay skewers and dumplings. There’s crispy lemon chicken, Hong Kong style sweet and sour chicken, fried rice, Kung Po king prawns, and if you ever wanted to try jellyfish, now’s your time, because they even serve crunchy jellyfish with garlic vinegar.
If you have a sweet tooth, you might want to add a couple servings of the banana or pineapple fritters to your cart, too. Better yet, try both alongside the BBQ pineapple with cinnamon and if beer is your thing, they have Tsingtao from the second largest brewery in China.
Featured on BBC Two’s ‘Best of British Takeaways’, Wongs is celebrated by customers and critics alike for great food, welcoming service and a well thought-out menu that draws inspiration from all regions of China. The authenticity of their menu also trickles down into the decor of the restaurant which, together with the dark wood, room dividers and lanterns, makes the experience at Wongs really immersive.
One look at their Instagram page perfectly encapsulates Cathay Rendezvous; traditional, but with a modern flair, their food looks bright and alluring. On one picture glossy dumplings sit within a dim sum bamboo steamer, on another golden spring rolls are stacked next to a punchy chilli sauce and there are plenty of images where prawns or chunks of chicken play hide in seek in a mountain of egg noodles. It’s a pretty mouthwater experience just looking at it, so imagine actually being able to enjoy these dishes from within the comfort of your own home.
With a mixture of Cantonese, Szechuan and Mandarin food, there’s a broad enough variety for even the fussiest of eaters. Dumplings, chicken satay, Won Ton soup and sesame prawn toast all make an appearance under the starter section of the menu. Getting into mains, you’ll find everything from aromatic crispy duck to sweet and sour chicken, crispy chilli beef, king prawn Szechuan style, bean curd in a black bean sauce and favourites like chicken Chow Mein and Singapore vermicelli.
In business since 1986, Cathay Rendezvous is one of the longest standing Chinese restaurants in Bristol. Situated in an old library, the elegance of this Grade II listed building makes it inside where beautiful art adorns the walls and vases and drapery complete the look of a Chinese restaurant without venturing into kitsch.
Wonderful setting aside, the true test is always flavour and they deliver it in spades here at Cathay’s earning them a spot in our list of the best Chinese takeaway in Bristol. Besides, if it’s good enough for Richard Ayoade who’ve been spotted among the patrons, it’s certainly good enough for us.
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There’s something a little different about Suyuan that’s instantly recognisable with one look at their menu. A vegetarian’s dream, the idea for this restaurant originated from a visit to Foshan, China. Here the Buddhist Temple, Foshan Zumiao inspires the ideals of eateries in the city who’ve all perfected the art of healthy, vegetarian cooking.
The idea was brought back to Bristol and Suyuan was born. To this day, they continue to base their menu on Hainan cuisine from Southern China whilst also taking inspiration from Northern China to create dishes like Gan guo hua cai, which is a cauliflower stir fry with dry chilli, garlic and soya sauce. Elsewhere you can find potato, butternut and mushroom curry, braised aubergine cooked in a fragrant homemade sauce and taro and kidney beans cooked with coconut milk.
Because the food is so delicious, you might even want to sample more of it, in which case you might want to try multiple starters to share. You’ll be tempted by options like potato onion cakes served with a spicy sauce, pumpkin soup with pine seeds or aubergine stuffed with tofu, chives and egg.
What the team here at Suyuan are trying to achieve is total rejuvenation for mind and body, which is a completely different approach to the other restaurants on this list, offering a very unique experience. When you do dine in at this charming spot in Queen’s Square, you’ll find yourself surrounded by rich woody tones and soft yellow lights that give the illusion of floating paper lanterns. Immersed in a relaxed environment, you can partake in Chinese teas that perfectly complement the menu.
Overall, Suyuan have perfected the balance of tasty and healthy and with them being Tripadvisor’s ‘Travellers’ Choice’ of 2020, you’ll do yourself a disservice by not ordering a cheeky takeaway tonight.
Hao Wei takes a slightly more modern approach to their interior, sticking to wood, black and white to complete a very minimal aesthetic. The mural of the Great Wall of China is also a really sophisticated way to remind you that this is in fact a Chinese restaurant. Though no reminder is more powerful than their food. With a menu inclusive of oriental favourites, Pho and traditional home cooked dishes, Hao Wei have earned praise by serving really delicious food to the nearby student village and beyond.
Kick back with some of the chef’s specials; pan fried sea bass with Szechuan sauce or grilled king prawns in ginger and rice wine sauce. Or let your eyes wander further down the menu where you’ll discover all sorts of wonderful options including crispy fried wontons filled with prawn and served with a sweet and sour sauce. There’s also crispy and aromatic duck served with pancakes, spring onions, cucumber and duck sauce, king prawn chop suey, pork balls served alongside a generous amount of sweet and sour sauce, sliced beef with pak choi and plenty more.
A highlight here are the sweet steamed buns they offer for dessert, but there’s also mango and passion fruit bavarois and a mint ice cream bomb to choose from if you’re in the mood for a three course meal.
Like Mayflower, Hao Wei also offers set meals for two, three or four diners to make your life a little simpler when ordering for takeaway. All three options contain prawn crackers, crispy duck, sweet and sour chicken, pork hot bean sauce and egg fried rice -the menu for three and four diners build on that. At lunch they also do chicken, beef or lobster pho and Vietnamese spring rolls.
With three of their four locations currently closed, the Queen’s Road noodle and bao bar is a saving grace at the moment. With collection and delivery available, the team are still serving up small plates, noodles and boa to whoever’s in the mood for Asain food. Popular dishes include their famous Korean fried chicken, but there’s also plenty of fillings to choose from for the fluffy baos on offer. Main dishes include king prawn XO pad thai and beef and onion XO chow mein. There’s also sweet and sour chicken, katsu and red curry on offer and it all looks vibrant and bold in flavour.
But flavour shouldn’t be an issue for a former MasterChef finalist. Taking part in 2013, Larkin Cen’s MasterChef journey began with a quick decision to enter during his lunch break. Fast forward several months and he found himself cookin off against Natalie Coleman and Dale Williams in the final as they battled for the title of MasterChef. Natalie took the win in the end, but the other two gained something valuable too and went into partnership to establish Woky Ko.
From there they’ve gone from strength to strength expanding their little empire of restaurants across Bristol, with another opening in Cardiff, and everything about their brand is engaging. Definitely leaning into a more playful side of Asian cuisine, they still respect traditional flavours by putting a modern twist on a classic flavour profile. If inventive, high quality food doesn’t earn them a spot as one of the best Chinese takeaways in Bristol, we don’t know what will.
That’s it. These restaurants might be our top picks, but we want to applaud each and every restaurant serving takeaway right now. Without the decor, service and atmosphere of the restaurant experience, it really comes down to incredible food and there’s so many shops around Bristol who are nailing it.
Fancy something different? Maybe Pizza? Indian?