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Prawn Toast
Photograph: Jess Hand

Hype Dish: Facing Heaven’s crispy sweet-and-sour seaweed toast

Founder Julian Denis talks us through what goes into the mouthwatering vegan snack

Written by
Chiara Wilkinson

Facing Heaven, a new Chinese-inspired vegan restaurant near London Fields, is kind of like the cooler, older sibling of Mao Chow, the previous eatery by founder Julian Denis. With its vibey neon lights and cool, divey furnishings, it serves up loud, colourful interpretations of much-loved regional Chinese dishes. Its seaweed toast has been a hit since opening. ‘It’s like normal prawn toast, but on steroids,’ says Denis. ‘It’s a bit more naughty.’ He explains what makes it such a banger of a dish. 

The cooking

‘We coat the bread with white sesame seeds and deep fry it until it’s golden. That’s where the magic happens: we end up with crispy, sweet-and-sour bread.’

The sauce 

‘It’s our version of a classic, old-school Chinese takeaway curry sauce. But it’s much more fragrant, because we add lime leaves, fresh lemongrass and coconut milk.’

The vibe

‘This is definitely hand food. It’s a good snack if you’re drinking a beer. You get the crunch from the toast, and a hit of ocean from the creamy, savoury seaweed mix.’

The bread

‘We use a sweet Jamaican hardo bread from a bakery on Kingsland Road. We slice it up thickly and dip it in a mix of Chinese vinegar, sugar, soy, garlic and bay leaves.’

The filling

‘We blitz up toasted nori seaweed and add vegan prawns for a bouncy texture. We fold in ginger, garlic, spring onions, Shaoxing cooking wine and homemade mayonnaise.’

1a Bayford St. £7.

More from our Hype Dish series:

Roti King’s buttery, flaky and fragrant roti canai.

Café Cecilia’s juicy onglet with peppercorn sauce.

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