I would say that it is now, in the last four to five years. Before then, it didn’t quite have the depth and breadth of a city like New York, but now you can get great Korean and pizza and burgers, and all the high-end stuff too, which New York has always done brilliantly.
I’d say that London has better high-end choices than New York, and it has the street food scene too. If you’ve eaten at night markets in South East Asia, that’s where you really need to experience what street food really is, because it’s so authentic, as well as cheap, whereas street stalls in London can be expensive. But a restaurant like Hoppers, which is Sir Lankan in the middle of Soho, absolutely blew me away, and it’s inexpensive too. You can finally get good Mexican food in London too.
There are very few cuisines that aren’t covered in the city, the same as it is in New York. There are a lot of really exciting young chefs doing interesting, dynamic things with food, especially in east London. Twenty years ago, a chef like Fergus Henderson defined Modern British food with his ‘nose to tail’ food, but now it’s the likes of Isaac McHale at the Clove Club, which evolved from a supper club, and James Lowe at Lyles, which are both in Shoreditch. London attracts chefs and restaurateurs from all over the world. Mitsuhiro Araki recently relocated his three Michelin-starred Tokyo sushi bar The Araki to Mayfair. Another three-star chef, Elena Arzak from San Sebastian, opened a place called Ametsa With Arzak Instruction in Belgravia, and another feted Spanish chef Eneko Atxa has just opened in Covent Garden.
And like any great world food capital, you’ll find great restaurants, cafes, bars, delis, markets and food retailers in every neighbourhood. Twenty-five years ago, the food scene and, in particular the restaurant scene, was focused in the West End and to eat well, you had to pay a lot of money. Now you’ll find it in Dulwich, Battersea, Peckham, Clerkenwell and of course Shoreditch. Borough Market is London’s most famous food market but there’s also Maltby Steet in Bermondsey and Broadway Market in Hackney.
London also stages some impressive food festivals throughout the year including the massively popular Taste Of London in Regents Park, an event that has been franchised around the world; Meatopia barbecue festival and the London Restaurant Festival.