My Neighbours The Dumplings
First in Clapton, and now also two minutes from Victoria Park, My Neighbours The Dumplings is surely Hackney’s favourite kinda cool and kinda casual Chinese restaurant. This second location has the personality of a crowd pleaser and, as with its sibling up the road, the best thing about this spot is the dumplings.
There are steamed ones, there are fried ones, and there are chocolate-filled ones that you’ll happily smear across your face. Most of the dumplings come in portions of four, and at £5 or £6 a pop, it’s very easy to grab your table’s biro, scan down the short list, and confidently scratch a ‘1’ next to each on the menu. It’s a dangerous setup if you have eyes bigger than you stomach.
Regardless of what your self-control is like, there are a few things you have to (and will) end up ordering, like the siu mai and har gau dumplings. Both are perfectly plump chunkers, like a newborn baby you wave at after two pints on a Sunday afternoon. The prawn and pork filled siu mai are juicy and a little salty, while the har gau are our idea of a bundle of joy. A prawn-packed one specifically. All they require is your love, attention, and some of MNTD’s deceptively oomph-filled chilli oil.
photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli
What requires even more attention is the time you come here, particularly if you’re not in the business of waiting. Because while MNTD’s room looks like a very inviting line of candle and neon-lit shared tables, its walk-in only policy means that you could be looking at them from the outside, or from a window seat in the pub across the road. Early-ish dinners at around 6-7pm are your best bet. Especially if you’re in a bigger group. That said, once you’re seated it’s very pleasant, and the service is slick even when it’s buzzing. Just remember to make a mental note of that indoor-outdoor patio area for summer, along with the rest of Hackney.
Ultimately, there’s a reason why this place is called My Neighbours The Dumplings and not My Neighbours The Overly Salty Pork Belly And The Sometimes Annoying Walk-In Only Policy. And that’s because, despite the best efforts of moist miso chicken and all manner of skewer on other parts of the menu, the dumplings - savoury and sweet - are the star of the show. The best move here is to go hard on these, have a few beers, and a carafe of sake. At around £20-£30 a head, if that isn’t a crowd pleasing combination, then we don’t know what is.
photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli
A classic reload dish if we’ve ever seen one. As in they’ll arrive at your table, you’ll try and eat one in one (note: that juicy, juicy prawn is deceptively chewy, and hot), savour the second, catch eyes with whoever you’re with, before trying to catch eyes with a server. Reload.
They’re almost too pretty, too dazzling, to ea... no it’s in your mouth. Oh, there goes the other one. Pork and prawn really is a match made in heaven when it’s done like this.
Crispy Prawn Won Ton
If you’ve ever got home in the early hours, found the cupboards bare aside from a lone pack of Doritos, and had a wave of ‘inspiration’ whilst staring at your fridge condiments shelf, then you’ll be familiar with the aesthetic of these fried won tons. Somehow they’re even more moreish than that creation.
Roasted Chicken Thigh And Miso Sauce
If looks could kill then this sauce-covered plate of soft chicken wouldn’t lay a scratch on you. That doesn’t really matter though. It’s sweet and salty, the chicken’s perfectly cooked, and it’s a fun thing to pack into some iceberg lettuce. One for the kids, adults, and everything in between.
Crispy Pork Belly And Plum Sauce
Salty. Very, very salty. The kind of salty that shrivels your tongue and makes you down a spoon of welcomely tart homemade plum sauce. Give us a vat of that stuff and it might just be bearable.
A skewer of mackerel with a cursory hint of miso and a squeeze of lime. It’s pleasant, but forgettable.
Do not underestimate the power of a soy coated and ginger-packed plate of greens. That’s what Darth Vader would say if he was eating here. A definite order.
Chocolate Dumplings And Ice Cream
Dumpling is a funny way to spell spring roll. But, pedantry is best left to geography teachers and pub quiz champions. And when the ‘dumplings’ in question are filled with gloriously gooey chocolate, alongside a caramel dipping sauce, and a couple of scoops of vanilla, then who cares?