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Photograph: Shutterstock
Photograph: Shutterstock

The very best of Highbury, Holloway and Finsbury Park, picked by a beloved local restaurateur

Mandy Yin, founder and head chef of Sambal Shiok and Nasi Economy Rice, shares her faves

Kate Lloyd

1. Black Axe Mangal

‘I love Lee [Tiernan, head chef and owner] and the whole team there. He is one of the most inventive chefs in London. What they do is completely unique – big powerful, loud, in-your-face flavours from all around the world but made from scratch. My favourite dish there is the mapo tofu with hash browns.’ 156 Canonbury Rd.

2. Lamezia

‘They’re a great little family-run Italian restaurant. They’ve been here for probably two decades. During lockdown they widened their range to include lots of antipasti and focaccia and arancini – stuff you can pick up on the go. But my favourite thing is their carbonara with ’nduja, which is fantastic.’ 165 Holloway Rd.

3. Provisions

‘It’s amazing – they sell wines, cheeses and general deli goods, like pâté en croute. The owner is called Hugo and they used to be a little wine bar in the evening. Unfortunately, they’ve had to stop that for now, but they’re still really serving the community. I buy a lot of Dusty Knuckle bread from them and wine too: rieslings, beaujolais and orange mosel.’ 167 Holloway Rd.

4. Salvation in Noodles

‘It’s an amazing Vietnamese restaurant – their fried chicken wings are crazy good, and their pho, of course. Before I opened Sambal Shiok I popped up at Salvation in Noodles for two weeks, in January 2016, so it has a special place in my heart.’ 2 Blackstock Rd.

5. North London Buddhist Centre

‘It runs meditation and mindfulness courses, some of them free. Right next door is Highbury Library, which was a really useful haunt when I was refurbishing my restaurant as it was a quiet, safe place to work with my laptop. Both places are a welcome respite from the stresses of life.’ 72 Holloway Rd.

6. Dilara

‘It’s a Turkish and Uyghur Chinese restaurant and their big-plate chicken with hand-pulled noodles is incredible – you must ask for it spicy! On the outside it looks like it might be quite a basic kebab shop, but when you go in there’s so much choice.’ 27 Blackstock Rd.

7. St Mary Magdalen churchyard

‘A pretty little green space just round the corner from my restaurant. I go there if I need a peaceful time out, or need to have a private chat with one of my team. It isn’t as busy as Highbury Fields and has plenty of benches dotted around to [sit on and] watch the world go by.’ Holloway Rd, N7 8LT.

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