LDNReview

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Hainan House image
8.2

Hainan House

Chinese

IslingtonAngel

$$$$Perfect For:Catching Up With MatesCasual Weeknight DinnerDate Night
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In a world of increasingly Infinite Jest-like restaurant concepts and boisterous big-name chefs, Hainan House feels like something of an introvert. As with many compelling places in London, you’ll find it sandwiched between an organic grocer and kebab shop. Only this low-key southern Chinese restaurant in Angel is making food that tastes far from run-of-the-mill. 

Hainan House image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Hainan House image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Hainan House image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Hainan House image

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Person picking up a Cola Wing from a plate.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Hainan House image
Hainan House image
Hainan House image
Hainan House image
Person picking up a Cola Wing from a plate.

There’s a soothing, pine wood feel to the 12-or-so table space, and service is as kind and light touch as the chilled house-poached poussin is tender. Which is to say, very. While the gentle flavours of pear with chilli salt or wobbling silken tofu in a vinegar dressing may not blow you away at first pass, Hainan House has a canny way of creeping up on you. Swing by alone and get some sticky cola chicken wings at the waist-high counter or thaw out with friends alongside the mini coconut chicken hotpot. It is, for all intents and purposes, Chinese penicillin.

Aromatics play a big part here and, while a bit more oomph could be added to some dishes, the array of house-made sauces make up for it. The yellow chilli is punchy, the garlic ginger an addictive Carmex competitor, and the garlic-laden chilli oil chuggable. Little things like this matter, and it’s no surprise that a restaurant as thoughtful as Hainan House gets that.

Food Rundown

Cola Wings on a white plate with a small sauce dish on the side.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Cola Chicken Wings

These sweet and sticky wings are a crowd-pleaser. The batter is crisp and they’re nice enough on their own, but it’s the mango chilli sauce on the side that really brings this dish up a few notches.

Chopsticks picking up noodles and beef jerky from a bowl of beef jerky rice noodle soup.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Beef Jerky Rice Noodle Soup

A classic combination of beef, pickled mustard greens, bean sprouts, peanuts, and coriander. All the textures and flavours that you could want are here, and the noodles have a satisfying bounce to them. The broth could have a little more depth to it, but it’s a good noodle soup.

poached poussin on a round plate.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

House-Style Poached Poussin

This take on Hainanese chicken is the star of the show. The chilled poussin is carefully poached before jumping in ice like a Wim Hof enthusiast. It’s incredibly tender and sits in a light soy-ish vinegar sauce alongside cubed pineapple. Brilliantly made and excellent to share. Although we’ve happily put it away with rice alone.

Hainan House image

Coconut Chicken Mini Hotpot

A (controlled) flame on a table is always an exciting thing, so seeing this little pot of crystal broth bubble away creates some drama, but this is a lovely, nourishing dish, rather than something theatrical. The coconut broth is sweet and the accoutrements—jujube, lotus seeds, papaya, rehydrated mushroom—add a fruity sugar to the occasion. The savoury comes from the chicken on the bone and the moreish garlic and ginger sauce. Get it with a bowl of rice on the side.

Picking up a spoonful from a small white bowl of mushroom fried rice.

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Mushroom Fried Rice

Earthy, perfectly cooked rice with chunks of mushroom in it. What’s not to like?

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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