The fashion designers-turned gourmet geniuses behind the new Chinese Laundry casual dinning room in Angel on the restaurant’s 80s retro vibe, why they felt London needed an authentic northern Chinese brunch and welcoming in the Year of the Rooster…
Painted in a mossy, greenish deep teal with a soft pink sign splatted against it, Chinese Laundry sits all so chic and ever so striking within the Upper Street landscape.
It’s tastefully on trend yet a throwback to the past at the same time, more specifically an ode to 80s China. It’s easy to draw parallels between the interior and exterior of their cosy Upper Street spot and fashion brand from across the way in Korea, Ader Error, both pioneering bold pinks against canvases of evergreens.
The fashion forwardness of Chinese Laundry can be attributed to the design backgrounds of its founders, Tongtong Ren and Peiran Gong. They grew up in northern China and studied in Beijing before moving to London together to study at the Royal College of Art.
Of their journey from fashion to food, Gong says: ‘We’ve both always been enthusiastic about cooking. When we were still working as designers, we’d often head to the market to get fresh fish and ingredients and cook up these big feasts in the studio or at home for all our friends. We just loved eating.’
Chinese brunch is actually really hard to find anywhere else in London. Ours includes classics like congee and baozi, as well as a Chinese version of the full English
Their food offering is like no other in the local area, focussed on authentic cuisine from north China with little touches of Western influence here and there. They have also jumped onto the brunch bandwagon but have zoned in on a traditional Chinese breakfast when it comes to their take on the in between meal time.
Gong says: ‘Chinese brunch is actually really hard to find anywhere else in London. Ours includes classics like congee and baozi, as well as a Chinese version of the full English, and an omelette dotted with dumplings, which is loved by all our guests.’
Both Ren and Gong describe their menu as mostly traditional with modern undertones. Their chicken carcass drink and egg hug dumpling were common street food snacks in Ren’s hometown but have nearly disappeared off menus now. Gong reminisces and says: ‘I remember eating them at festive family dinners in the early 90s.’
‘We were just babies during the 80s, but it was a time of economic reform, a time when our parents began to embrace culture, music and the arts,’ explains Ren.
‘The interior of Chinese Laundry is an eclectic mix of objects that we’ve collected over the years. We tried to pull it all together to look like our grandparent’s homes.
‘Working in the fashion industry got to a point where it wasn’t satisfying anymore. We love seeing diners respond to and appreciate our work with food, it’s actually very creatively fulfilling.’
107 Upper Street N1 1QN; 020 7686 6847; chineselaundryroom.com
Chinese New Year @ Chinese Laundry
In the week leading up to The Chinese New Year, Chinese Laundry will be hosting three nights of dumpling masterclasses. They’re a key part of Chinese New Year cuisine, and are often eaten in rounds from morning all the way through to midnight on the big day. They’ll be throwing in lots of different types of dumplings and a cocktail or two, as well as a variety of other dishes off their menu to make a night of it.
In China celebrations can last for up to two weeks after the official start of the lunar New Year, so even if you can’t make one of their masterclasses, head down in true celebratory style when you have time and welcome in the Year of the Rooster in a retro Chinese setting.