Shoreditch needs little in the way of introduction. Before you can even say ‘Shhhh’ you’ll have heard an exhaustive, exhausting roll call of cliche and misconception. Of caped men fiddling with their moustaches while riding penny farthings, and folk so tattooed they’re more ink than blood. Of nitro brewed, supercharged, butter infused coffee at supercharged prices which you can only enjoy in a shed or something. Anyway, it’s all bollocks. The only sweeping statement we can make about this magical corner of London town is about the food; on every street you’ll find something uniformly, spectacularly good.
We’re drawing our focus today onto one sprawling strip where you’ll find something for everyone. Here are 6 IDEAL Kingsland Road and High Street restaurants, London.
One of London’s most blogged about restaurant openings of 2018, fronted by former Clove Club head chef Chase Lovecky, Two Lights built up huge expectation before their beef fat chips topped with crab even hit the fryer. Fortunately, with a menu full of crowd-pleasing small plate dishes like these, London lapped it up. The food is so hip it hurts; the deep fried sardine katsu sandwich, and custard tart with smoked, salted bourbon caramel have done the rounds on Instagram to the point of saturation.
If you want your sardine sandos to get noticed on Insta and in the process get a whole load of likes for your foodie photos, then make it stand out by adding a human element to your snap. Fix the Photo, who share creative food photography ideas, tell us to try and keep your fingers or arm visible in the frame to slightly humanize the photo as it encourages “viewers to taste the dish” and have an emotive response’.
Anyway, back to the food. Fortunately, this focus on the eye-grabbing hasn’t affected the flavour. Dishes are uniformly knockout (that skate wing…), and although it’s not cheap, the convivial vibe and crisp, creative wine list make it a great place to hang out, even if you’re just sharing a couple of plates.
We had to start here. The stretch of Kingsland Road from Shoreditch High Street up until Hoxton train station is often referred to as ‘Pho Mile’ owing to its huge concentration of Vietnamese restaurants. The name is actually a little misleading; the famous noodle soup isn’t the highlight of most of the eateries here. Rather you’ll find broader, all encompassing menus covering classics found on Hanoi’s streets alongside Southern specialities, the royal food of Hue and dishes from the central highlands of Vietnam.
Mien Tay is probably our favourite. An extensive selection of largely, but not exclusively, Saigonese fare (the family running the operation hail from the country’s south) has enough choice to satisfy everyone. Their chargrilled quail with a honey, garlic and soy glaze brings back memories of the great ‘chim quay’ joints found on the streets of Vietnam. As with most of the Vietnamese places on Kingsland Road, it’s bring your own booze. All together now – ‘Tram Phan Tram!’
Where it all began for these all conquering purveyors of some of the finest fried chicken in the capital. KFC this ain’t. The batter is always crisp, the seasonings and sauces globe trotting and taste bud tingling, and the signature sour cocktails powerful yet poised. A winning formula, we think. London does too; there are now three branches with more in the pipeline.
While you may come here for the fried chicken, you’d be a fool not to try some of the other delights on the menu. Order the chicken toast – it’s just like prawn toast but with chicken and their Szechuan aubergine, fried in a light and crispy batter, and served with dark and spicy Szechuan sauce, is not to be missed. We’re yet to try their ‘whole fry Sundays’, where the star of the show is a whole fried chicken, brined overnight in buttermilk and pimped up with chilli vinegar and gochujang mayo, but it’s on the list, for sure. We’ll see you there?
One of the city’s hidden gems we think. So much so, we’re apprehensive to include it here. But Brilliant Corners, at the Dalston end of Kingsland Road, deserves attention. This great little Japanese late night bar and restaurant is dimly lit and moody, adding to that ‘just stumbled in off the street and discovered this’ charm. The food is broadly izakaya inspired; small snacks perfect for facilitating drinking take centre stage, but if you want a full blown sushi and sashimi affair, that’s available too.
Onto Kingsland High Street now for a very different proposition. This by-the-slice pizza joint stays open late and attracts hipsters of the night to hangout over cold cans of Neck Oil and New Yorker style pizza until the early hours (this place closes at 3 AM at the weekend). Their frozen margaritas are pretty special too and in our eyes, it’s always time for tequila, especially when it’s served like a slushie.
Address: 95 Kingsland High St, London E8 2PB, UK
Yakitori is the name of the game here; that’s Japanese barbecue skewers to the unaware. The focus here falls on fowl but there’s plenty else on offer for the vegetabley inclined. The decor is sparse and light, with blonde wood and white walls calling to mind the most pared back of Scandi coffee shops rather than a charcoal grill kind of joint. But the food is anything but paltry (must. resist. poultry. pun). There’s a generosity to the seasoning which equates to damn great beer food; the minced chicken skewer (tsukune) is fully flavoured and just so damn fine. Instagram also loves their katsu curry scotch egg, if you like to eat with your camera first.