In a corner of Leicester Square that is forever Manzi’s, a new Vietnamese has moved in. But for how long, asks Jay Rayner
1 Leicester Street, London WC2 (020 3696 6460). Meal for two, including drinks and service: £120
How can an entire street corner lose its way? How can it simply stop being a place anyone wants to visit and become instead the subject only of deep sighs and shrugs? For decades the corner of Leicester and Lisle Streets on the southern edge of London’s Chinatown was definitely a place people frequented – until they didn’t. It was occupied by a legendary fish restaurant called Manzi’s, with gingham tablecloths and swollen plaits of bread made of plastic hanging over the bar. You went there for oysters and Dover sole, and for Italian waiters straight out of central casting. They did stewed eels with mash, and something worrying called curried halibut and a strawberry tart everyone swore by. Manzi’s was a great London restaurant when the city didn’t have enough of them.