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Mao Chow

London

Mao Chow

BEST NEW BISTRO

Mao Chow

shortlisted by Lefooding

WHO
After getting hooked on Chinese flavours during his time working with Jonathan Wu on the Lower East Side, Californian-born chef Julian Denis has been pop-upping around East London since 2017 with his plant-based, self-defined “inauthentic Chinese food” (Behind This Wall, Pamela). Now he’s gone brick-and-mortar in the tiniest spot behind London Fields, on Mare Street. The front sign still belongs to the previous owner, but the “vegan Chinese food” A-board leads the way to his creative and seriously spicy vegan delicacies.

FOOD
A short and playful all-vegan menu, served on mismatched plastic crockery:
Delicious gong bao asparagus with fried peanuts galore, chillies and an addictive sweet and sour sauce – £5
A fluffy oyster mushroom bao with pickled daikon and doubanjiang mayo – £4.50
Fiery dan dan noodles with mince that’s better than the real thing (the recipe is kept secret, but there’s mushroom involved), cucumber and pak choi – £9
A slightly oversweet, quite unnecessary Chinese doughnut with ice cream and tian mian jiang caramel (order extra noodles instead) – £4.50

DRINKS
From the “booze” menu:
A 2017 Naturalmente Frizzante vegan sparkling wine from Casa Belfi – £6/34
A combo of Tsingtao beer and a shot of Baiju, because why not – £5
A can of Famous House Almond Drink that tackles the heat, straight out of the mini fridge – £2.50

DECOR
In this colourful pocket-sized eatery, the yellow Formica counter commands all the attention. Behind it, you’ll find Julian, hat on, cooking in a joyous hullabaloo on a domestic kitchen stove. Then there’s a bright yellow guest table and a couple of high stools. That’s it. The walls are painted 90s bubble gum pink and mint green shades, and we spotted a couple of lucky cats.

NOISE
Messy and fun, just how we like it! The Hackney crowd has a blast squished up against one other, with an indie soundtrack playing loudly in the background. We Shazamed "Pretender" by Black Marble.

SEATING
Quite uncomfortable, but you’re not there for long so it doesn’t really matter. Sit practically on your neighbour’s lap around the guest table (8 max), on a narrow bench along the wall, or grab one of the four red high stools facing the other wall for solo dining. There are also two small garden tables with Ikea stools on the pavement, but you’ll miss out on the good vibes inside.

VIBE
Overheard: “it’s like Shoreditch ten years ago.” Sums it all up.

RESTROOMS
None.

SERVICE
The smiling Em does it all on her own.

WOULD RECOMMEND
Yes! To your vegan friends obvs, but also the sceptical ones, to show them how it’s done. Fans of spice are welcome too.

WHO
After getting hooked on Chinese flavours during his time working with Jonathan Wu on the Lower East Side, Californian-born chef Julian Denis has been pop-upping around East London since 2017 with his plant-based, self-defined “inauthentic Chinese food” (Behind This Wall, Pamela). Now he’s gone brick-and-mortar in the tiniest spot behind London Fields, on Mare Street. The front sign still belongs to the previous owner, but the “vegan Chinese food” A-board leads the way to his creative and seriously spicy vegan delicacies.

FOOD
A short and playful all-vegan menu, served on mismatched plastic crockery:
Delicious gong bao asparagus with fried peanuts galore, chillies and an addictive sweet and sour sauce – £5
A fluffy oyster mushroom bao with pickled daikon and doubanjiang mayo – £4.50
Fiery dan dan noodles with mince that’s better than the real thing (the recipe is kept secret, but there’s mushroom involved), cucumber and pak choi – £9
A slightly oversweet, quite unnecessary Chinese doughnut with ice cream and tian mian jiang caramel (order extra noodles instead) – £4.50

DRINKS
From the “booze” menu:
A 2017 Naturalmente Frizzante vegan sparkling wine from Casa Belfi – £6/34
A combo of Tsingtao beer and a shot of Baiju, because why not – £5
A can of Famous House Almond Drink that tackles the heat, straight out of the mini fridge – £2.50

DECOR
In this colourful pocket-sized eatery, the yellow Formica counter commands all the attention. Behind it, you’ll find Julian, hat on, cooking in a joyous hullabaloo on a domestic kitchen stove. Then there’s a bright yellow guest table and a couple of high stools. That’s it. The walls are painted 90s bubble gum pink and mint green shades, and we spotted a couple of lucky cats.

NOISE
Messy and fun, just how we like it! The Hackney crowd has a blast squished up against one other, with an indie soundtrack playing loudly in the background. We Shazamed "Pretender" by Black Marble.

SEATING
Quite uncomfortable, but you’re not there for long so it doesn’t really matter. Sit practically on your neighbour’s lap around the guest table (8 max), on a narrow bench along the wall, or grab one of the four red high stools facing the other wall for solo dining. There are also two small garden tables with Ikea stools on the pavement, but you’ll miss out on the good vibes inside.

VIBE
Overheard: “it’s like Shoreditch ten years ago.” Sums it all up.

RESTROOMS
None.

SERVICE
The smiling Em does it all on her own.

WOULD RECOMMEND
Yes! To your vegan friends obvs, but also the sceptical ones, to show them how it’s done. Fans of spice are welcome too.

CHEF

Julian Denis

OPENING DAYS

Open only in the evenings until 11 p.m.

RESERVATION

Be there at 6 p.m. when they open if you want to snag a seat, otherwise you may have to order takeaway instead

WEBSITE

https://www.mao-chow.com/

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