Diners at a New Malden Chinese restaurant found themselves in the middle of an immigration enforcement raid last night.
Police and Home Office officials raided Noodle Express in Coombe Road, moving on two workers before arresting another.
Confused punters were still allowed in for dinner, sharing the restaurant with burly enforcement officers wearing stab vests.
A 24-year-old Chinese man is arrested at Noodle Express.
A 43-year-old Chinese man, who the Home Office later said was a failed asylum seeker, and a 26-year-old Sri Lankan man who had overstayed his visa, were led out of Noodle Express.
Another Chinese man, aged 24, was arrested for working in breach of his visa conditions – he is now in immigration detention pending removal from the UK.
Noodle Express manager Joey Lam said: “It’s definitely a misunderstanding. We do our job.
“We’ve been here for 15 or 20 years. We never get people working without permits and things like that.”
Officers also wandered down to the nearby Ephesus kebab shop, finding another man thought to be working illegally.
Sgt Eddie Armstrong, from Kingston police, said: “As [officers] entered a male was seen to run off.
“A short time later the male was located and arrested.”
The man, a 22-year-old from Pakistan, had overstayed his visa. He was put on immigration bail and could be removed from the country if he is found to have no right to remain in the UK.
Officials said the man had been living in a disused kitchen space.
Both businesses could be fined if they cannot prove they carried out checks on the workers.
A visit to the Royal Gurkha curry house earlier in the evening did not turn up any illegal workers.