It’s time for another post that’s a little bit crowd-sourced via Instagram. Yes, despite the algorithm changes and blatant Snapchat thievery, I still use this app to plan most of my restaurant outings. It goes a little bit like this; I see somewhere I like, add it to a random note on my phone, forget about the note before searching for it Taylor Swift style when I’m ready to start putting together a post. The thing about living somewhere like London is that there’s an overwhelming amount of choice and sometimes you end up sticking to the same areas out of convenience. I’ve already done a bit of an East London guide before but I really wanted to highlight a few parts that are a little further away and find out if all these screenshotted places were a case of style over substance. You’ll probably find more succulents and mismatched plates per square metre in this neck of the woods and start thinking this is the norm.
The Hoxton Hotel
If you want to explore East London but don’t want to stay too far out, then The Hoxton Hotel is your best bet for resting your head. It’s handily located in between Old Street, Liverpool Street and Shoreditch High Street, so you can explore for the day, pick up your luggage and get back to the mainline stations easily if you need to catch a train or flight home (I shared with Winnie who needed to get back to Birmingham). Each room has its own individual characteristics and our cosy double was still a decent size with just the right amount of essentials artfully laid out. You get a basic breakfast included (think granola, juice and a banana), but it’s well worth treating yourself to something more substantial at The Hoxton Grill downstairs. Its part of the Soho House group, where the food is consistently of high quality (I’ve never seen eggs quite so orange) and the hash brown was one of the best I’ve ever tasted.
I was invited to The Hoxton for a complimentary visit.
Chick n’ Sours
Next on the list was Chick n’ Sours, a short bus or Overground ride away from in the Haggerston area. They had me at fried chicken really, there’s so many good places in London right now (Bird, Chicken Liquor, Dirty Bones, my house thanks to coat n’ bake seasoning) and this is the kind of trend that I’m quite happy to see everywhere. The twist here is that there’s a slight Asian twist to most of the dishes, like a touch of seaweed in the chicken seasoning and Japanese lime kosho in the coleslaw (all the chicken and vegetables are organic). I could probably eat the sticky disco wings until the cows come home, but I did find the house fry a little rich after a while, so it’s best to share a portion. I’m already trying to work out when I can visit again, to make it even more tempting, there’s a new branch opening in Covent Garden very soon. You know where to find me.
It probably wasn’t the best idea to indulge in a freakshake after the intense chicken feast, but with Molly Bakes only a 2-minute walk away, you’d be foolish not to pop in. I feel like I’m the last person to try one of these sweet treats that originally hail from Australia. It’s basically a pimped out milkshake, with ice cream, sauce and a variety of toppings such as cookies, marshmallows and honeycomb. It’s a full on experience. For someone who isn’t really a dessert person, I was really impressed at the attention to detail and I’m intrigued to see what new flavours they come up with. I’ve just Googled the original and there’s an apple pie version with caramelised puff pastry…
Som Saa London
If you need to walk off your feasts, then I’d recommend wandering through De Beauvoir Town and meandering via the canal around Whitmore Road (there’s a few galleries and co-working spaces plus a newly opened Proud East). Once we’d arrived back in Shoreditch, Som Saa London was on the agenda and it’s been on my mental list for such a long time, I’d forgotten what was actually on the menu. I’m always a bit sceptical of Thai food in London after a few underwhelming experiences, but there was nothing to worry about here as it’s a bit of a regional affair. You’ll find less widely known combinations and everything we tried had the perfect kick (though you’ll need a pretty high spice tolerance for the papaya salad). It’s probably the most authentic grub I’ve tasted this side of Bangkok. A special mention goes out to the tangy limeade, they definitely know how to do soft drinks here.
Another place I’d been meaning to visit was Chatsworth Road market. It’s slightly more under-the-radar thanks to the Homerton location but no less gentrified (there’s an organic SPAR, of course). What’s nice to see is that there still seems to be diverse community, there’s a stall selling sugar cane and one boasting fancy eclairs a few pitches down. There’s also several lifestyle shops, that’ll make you want to transport yourself into the owner’s world. I was drawn into Hop of Hackney by some of the children’s bits (this is probably what I’d dress my future child in) but there’s also plenty of quirky stationery and organic beauty products in glass bottles. Does anyone else have a thing about beauty products in glass bottles? Triangle was basically life goals, with lush pastel blankets and books to match.
My Neighbours The Dumplings
So the last location on the list was a bit of a disappointment. That’s the thing about social media, it lets you build up places in your mind thanks to the perfectly styled images. I think I’d probably confused My Neighbours The Dumplings with Dumpling Shack, thinking that every dish would be dumpling heaven. Instead it’s a bit of a general dim sum place, but with higher prices than Chinatown. I couldn’t fault the sticky ribs, which were good value and a decent portion size plus the green iced tea with ginger and lime was really refreshing. Sadly the sticky rice was undercooked and lacked the usual meat and vegetables that I’ve come to expect. I’ve since heard mixed reviews and the awkward opening times mean that I’ll probably just stick to Chinatown for my dim sum fix next time.
So there you have it, a mini guide just in case you find yourself wanting to explore even more of East London! It’s definitely the place where you’ll find some of the most stylised shops, restaurants and Instagram opportunities but it’s definitely where I feel quite at home, thanks to all the creativity.