For fans of the spicy, earthy flavours of China’s Hunan province, there’s little not to like at Yipin. The overwhelmingly vast menu also offers dishes in the southern Cantonese style – sweet, subtle and more familiar in the West – but stick to the kitchen’s specialities, which hail from Hunan and the neighbouring Sichuan province, and feature bold, fiery food.
Highlights include pickled runner beans with minced pork (a wonderfully sour medley of vegetables and meat), mouth-watering Sichuan chicken (tiny morsels of on-the-bone fried chicken hidden in a mountain of dried chillies), and dry-wok beancurd, which consists of large pieces of tofu in a ginger and chilli-heavy sauce. Twice-cooked pork, a Sichuanese classic, is delicious here; the thin slices of belly pork are delectably fatty, salty and dry, rather than greasy.
While the peasant-style dishes are a little at odds with the hefty central Islington house prices, the humble double-fronted red and white dining room matches the food well, looking as if a trattoria once operated here. It suggests that the focus is on food, not aesthetics.