Test Drives

Test Driving Chinese Laundry - with a family-style Chinese menu for Spring

What can you tell us about Chinese Laundry?

This Chinese restaurant on Islington's Upper Street opened last year. It's one that's based on a family cooking style, so don't go in expecting your normal Chinese restaurant. And it's won over its share of critics too, including Giles Coren. They've just brought in a new Spring menu so, as Islington locals, we popped down the road to check it out. 

Where is it?

It's on Upper Street, near to the newly opened Galley and very close to the John Salt pub too. Angel's your best bet for a tube stop nearby. 

Where should I pop in for a drink beforehand?

It's not too far to 69 Colebrooke Row for arguably the best cocktails in London, and if you're coming from the Highbury and Islington end, we'd highly recommend popping into Little Bat for a cocktail . Alternatively the John Salt is nearby if you fancy a quick pint.

And what should I order?

It's a relatively short-ish menu for a Chinese restaurant - but that's also something of a blessing. We'd recommend as much of a tour of the menu as you can - all the dishes we had were great, so it's worth experimenting. The particular winners were:

  • Crunchy courgette with raspberry vinaigrette - as a snack while you're thinking about the rest of the menu. A great little dish.
  • The excellent sweet basil popcorn chicken - this is quite probably some of the best popcorn chicken we've ever had. If you're passing by and there's a free table, a dish of these and one of their cocktails would be great for a quick pit-stop
  • The Ma La lobster tail on Bing - this is a lobster tail cooked in ma la spice sauce and served on a black sesame bing (chinese pancake) along with caviar and more. The best bet with this one is to empty out the tail into the pancake and roll it all up. We'll be honest and say we didn't actually work this method out on the night - but it's definitely the way to go. Either way it's a fantastic dish - not to be missed.
  • And leave some space for dessert - both the croissant pudding with jasmine custard and the cheesecake with ginger biscuit and apple puree (kind of a deconstructed cheesecake) were top notch.

How about drinks?

As mentioned - it's worth kicking things off with a cocktail - there are quite a few based on baiju (Chinese grain-based hard liquor) and they're pretty decent value for £8. As for the wine - it starts at £21 for a bottle of Picpoul. And there's also a good selection of baiju to finish off with too. 

Overall?

A Chinese restaurant with a difference, Chinese Laundry really adds something to Islington's diverse eating out scene. Well worth checking out if you're in the area.

Chinese Laundry is at 107 Upper St, Islington, UK N1 1QN. Find out more about Chinese Laundry

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