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Chef’s Specials: Mambow founder Abby Lee’s favourite spots in Hackney

From a well-stocked corner shop to a restaurant serving quality sushi

Isabelle Aron
Written by
Isabelle Aron

In our Chef’s Specials series, we ask London chefs to recommend their favourite places to go for food and drink – everywhere from neighbourhood restaurants to ace caffs to always-reliable corner shops. In this instalment, Abby Lee, founder of Malaysian restaurant Mambow in Spitalfields, shares her favourite Hackney spots.

Spandeli is a super low-key deli which has a real charm. You’ll find very select Spanish wines, cheese, ham, anchovies, things like that. I usually get a sandwich filled with juicy olives, artichokes, a Spanish tomato spread and lots of olive oil. The guy who runs it has dreams of turning the space into a tapas bar when Covid is over.’

Tahsin Food Centre is a really good corner shop run by some lovely Turkish guys. Before lockdown, it was a good spot for a big selection of beers but since then they’ve expanded their fruit and veg selection massively – you can even get fresh kaffir lime leaves! It also has a good range of specific organic products, if you’re into that.’

‘At Brunswick East Bakehouse in Hackney Downs Studios, they sell their own house sourdough, pastries, breakfast buns, daily-changing sandwiches and delicious juices. My favourite is their vegan sausage roll.’

Fin and Earth is a great zero-waste shop. They do coffee but I mainly go there to refill groceries and cleaning products. They sell everything you need for an eco household.’

‘At Japanese restaurant Uchi, they use amazing quality ingredients, it’s seriously good. They have the best range of veggie sushi rolls than anywhere else – try the shiso daikon or shimeji mushroom rolls.’

‘Since lockdown, Oren has been doing a serious takeaway menu. It’s delicious Mediterranean food – whether you want a sabich [Israeli sandwich] to-go or have a full mezze delivered with cured sardines. The food reminds me of being on holiday.’

Read more from this series:

Ben Tish’s guide to Limehouse

Francesco Mazzei’s guide to Islington.

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