Food Travel

Chinese Laundry: Thrown Back to the 80s

Greetings from London!! It’s your other blog editor Alison writing from across the Atlantic. I wanted to contribute some of my Asian food finds on this side of the world. Hope this will help those who are thinking of studying here! 

Weekends are usually when everyone does their laundry. The worst is when you get to the laundry room and all the washers are taken, or when you find that someone has taken your load out and left it sprawled everywhere. In any case, I found a better alternative and went to “Chinese Laundry” for my Saturday brunch.

Amongst all the pancake and Eggs benedict photos that flood #breakfastinlondon Insta accounts, a Chinese style brunch immediately caught my attention. And of course, I will always find an excuse to eat Chinese food, no matter where I am (homesickness is real). They describe their restaurant to be “a casual dining room inspired by 80s Chinese family life and food”, focusing on food from Northern China and hoping to bring street breakfast memories and a typical family dinner menu to London. Chinese food in a Western setting always makes me nervous, but I thought I’d give it a go #doitfortheinsta

Having done my (insta) research, I knew I had to get my Bao. The steamed stuffed bun (as they translated it to be) contained minced pork with slow cooked pork belly. A big fluffy cloud filled with savoury goodness, sign me up please!

They had the traditional congee, tea egg and milk bun options for sides. It was in their specials where they started getting creative. Shrimp cake benedict sounded good on paper, but I was skeptical as to whether I wanted my vision of a benedict to be tainted. Dumplings are a staple, and Chinese Laundry decided to place them in an omelette (titled “Egg Hug Dumplings”), and in a stir fry with bacon, garlic and peanuts. Lastly, their take on an “English full breakfast” made me chuckle. It included “braised beef and peanut loumei, tea egg, king oyster mushroom, bacon, stir fried potato and milky little buns”. Not bad for a fusion dish, as it seemed to contain a good balance of East and West components. And now for the taste test…

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My friend and I decided on the dumpling stir fry, pork belly bao and cong you bing (蔥油餅)with egg. The cong you bing came in a flash, but of course I waited until all the food came so I could get the full spread. Because of that, the food was lukewarm by the time I tried it (…whoops) so I kept that in mind. The pork belly bao had a satisfying amount of accurately seasoned Taiwanese pork. I would’ve wished there was more pork belly, but I had to manage my expectations.

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The dumplings’ flavours came together very nicely. The hot Sriracha-like sauce and bacon balanced out each other, with the peanuts giving a good crunch.

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Cong you bing was the most underwhelming dish as it wasn’t crispy or flaky enough. It was slightly too sweet for my liking as well… but of course I had the cong zhua bing from Taipei in mind as I took a bite.

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Conclusion? It was a very cute place with a heartwarming concept. The decor and table settings were exactly how I would’ve imagined an 80s Chinese household to look like. However, the number of Caucasian diners there was an indication of its cultural entertainment value. You cannot go in expecting a legit Northern Chinese breakfast, but rather an alternative experience to lining up 30 minutes for avocado toast and acai bowls. Next time, I’ll probably opt for a more authentic place.

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