For a blissful two months in Clapton this spring, my neighbours the dumplings actually were Eat Hackney’s neighbours. Living across the road, Eat Hackney shopped at Palm 2, browsed for vinyl in Lion Records, and downed dumplings in this delightful wee place.
It’s the creation of Kris and Bec, who were joined a month after the restaurant opened its doors by baby Matilda. The place feels like family – the food is of the kind that Kris and Bec, who has a Hong Kong Chinese background, would cook up for a big dinner party. Plump dim sum dumplings are a signature dish, but the menu doesn’t stick rigidly to Chinese classics – the chefs went off piste to create popcorn chicken with lemongrass dip, chocolate dumplings and matcha-green-tea rice pudding.
The interior of the restaurant has a similarly eclectic, creative vibe, with gorgeously distressed gilded walls, colourful lanterns and an open kitchen where stacks of bamboo steamers add a hazy, steamy glow.
From pop-up beginnings at Palm 2 and on Wilton Way, my neighbours the dumplings is spreading its wings. A sake bar and mini live-music lounge opens downstairs in September, and the spacious rear of the premises is being developed as a workshop space and garden.
According to a movie I remember loving back in, er, 1985, dim sum means A Little Bit of Heart. Which seems apt for this warm-hearted neighbourhood endeavour. Gom bui (‘dry the cup’) Hackney! And thanks to the Dumplings for the tasty turnip cake recipe they’ve shared with us.