Purists, take note: this isn’t your traditional dim sum restaurant and doesn’t claim to be. Instead, My Neighbours the Dumplings has adopted the dim sum dining style of shared small plates and given it a hip east London twist, combining traditional Chinese dishes with other popular Asian influences, including Thai-style green papaya salad and a saké-based drinks menu.
But don’t worry, these guys really do make excellent dumplings. The pastry is handmade and the meat (all free-range and from the Rare Breed Meat Company) tastes like actual meat rather than something you hope is pork. Their take on the classic steamed pork-and-prawn siu mai was light and fresh; the interpretation of a turnip cake looked alarmingly burnt but was crispy and moreish; and the sticky lotus-leaf-wrapped rice was packed with tasty surprises. Vegetarians are very well catered for too, with plump steamed shiitake mushroom dumplings and fried aubergine and sesame ‘potstickers’ trumping their meaty counterparts.
Tempting as it is to stuff yourself silly with multiple orders of the savoury delights, save room for dessert. Heavenly chocolate dumplings were like naughty, deep-fried Milky Ways while the matcha tea rice pudding with coconut jam had me licking the bowl – although I was so full it was hard for me to move even this much.
After running a series of pop-ups, MNTD has wisely chosen to settle down on an increasingly popular stretch in Lower Clapton that’s full of new restaurants, and it’s already attracting a loyal local following with friendly service, distressed walls, communal tables, glowing street food signs, reasonable prices and a buzzing atmosphere. On a Saturday night, the place is packed with hordes of hungry hipsters propping up the bar, sipping saké-based cocktails and waiting for a table (there’s no booking, obvs).
Yes, everyone knows that most of the best dim sum in London is to be found in Chinatown, but if you’re in need of a dumpling fix and can’t face battling through the throngs of lost tourists in Leicester Square, MNTD offers a pleasing alternative that feels far more like ‘the place to be’ than your average restaurant on Rupert Street.