As an interior design and branding studio, we’re always looking for the most beautiful spaces in the city, and experiencing them. That’s why we were so eager to try the Chinese Laundry Room Pop-up in Brockley.
The sun was rising after a rainy day in London as we made our way through the streets with walls covered in street art, and small coffee shops around every corner. We arrived in this family neighbourhood and you can immediately tell why Ellen & Peiran (Founders of Chinese laundry, Islington 2015) chose this place for their pop-up.
After a 6-month residency at The Mountgrove Bothy, Ellen & Peiran travelled through different parts of China where they gained a new perception of Chinese food and cooking. Armed with this new knowledge, they now explore recipes and cook their own interpretation of childhood memories in the form of Chinese-family-street-food cuisine.
Two days before we were meant to go, I received the phone call confirming our reservation. They explained that due to the small space they have, we needed to be punctual and also bring our own drinks. They recommended a wine store in front of the restaurant, Salthouse Bottles, a small wine club with a large selection of crafted products.
When we went in ahead of our reservation, they offered us a dry white wine that would go perfectly with the spicy food we were about to taste.
We were first greeted with the minimalistic white logo on the black façade of the pop-up. As we made our way inside, the aromas from the open kitchen hit us - it felt like coming to a family hosting us over a home-cooked dinner.
A blackboard listed the 8-course menu, against Kung-Fu wall illustrations. We began with an interpretation of a classic Chinese dish, dan dan, that consists of squid noodles marinated with dried seaweed nuts and a spicy oil - a refreshing combination. It was followed by a potato salad with marinated clams. The thinly sliced potatoes were a crisp fresh vegetable side to the clams.
We then moved on to one of our favourite dishes of the night: A crispy yuba pocket with aubergine & shiitake, white toast and shiso, a very interesting mix of textures on the palate. While sipping and enjoying that fantastically paired wine, we continued on to the fourth dish of the evening, fresh crayfish with pickled garlic and Chinese chive. We were told that in order to fully taste the flavours in this dish, it must be eaten with your hands.
With this pop-up, they have found a way to mix traditional Asian techniques with European products of the highest quality to create the biggest and tastiest Iberico pork and truffle dumplings we have tried! However, it’s the authentic Chinese dishes that shine through.
We were warned that one of the characteristics of the restaurant is that it is based on traditional Chinese cuisine so we would probably have to eat ingredients that were foreign to us. Our last course certainly kept that promise: a swim bladder (the organ that makes the fish float) stuffed with chicken, in a pumpkin soup.
To end the meal, we tried their fig leaves ice cream - a fantastic dish with distinctive flavours.
Everything here is about the food, and the stories behind it. If you are someone who likes to be surprised, enjoys good food, and is not not afraid to try new things, this is the perfect place for you. You will enjoy a pleasant dinner and the team will make you feel so at home, that the only thing you’ll want is to come back again soon.
Make sure you visit before they close in February 2020!