As previous reviews attest, Clapton is now home to several quality Asian eateries. The newest among them is the puzzlingly named My Neighbours the Dumplings, which opened last month on Lower Clapton Road. As a dumpling fanatic, I waited impatiently for the opening, and apparently wasn’t alone in doing so: when we visited midweek, the restaurant was so bustling that a passing resident marvelled that she’d never seen such a busy place locally. It took us a few moments to get through the door as a decent crowd had assembled around the sake bar, seemingly just popping in for a drink.
MNTD has many things to recommend it. The general ambience is outstanding. The interior is thronged in custom-made light boxes, and the music is good, contributing to a celebratory vibe. The service is warm too. And the ingredients are clearly of a high quality, with meat sourced from the Rare Breed Meat Company. This is immediately apparent from the earthiness of the pork and lamb. It was nice to be offered ethically-sourced meat, which is not generally a fixture at regular dim sum parlours.
As dim sum is a brunch food, the food here isn’t strictly traditional. Diners do order from a tick box list, and the dishes are served in baskets, for sharing. The menu is carefully chosen, with classics like siu mai and sticky rice alongside pan-Asian fare such as a cucumber salad spiked with chilli and lemongrass, and a generous smattering of vegetarian options. We tried about eight dishes and although the general quality was high, some were more successful than others. The lamb and coriander potstickers were crispy without greasiness and the turnip cake with Chinese sausage and shiitake mushrooms was outstanding. The siu mai, however, weren’t firm enough, and the pork in the filling overpowered the prawn rather than hitting a balance. The prawn wontons were priced quite dearly at £5 (over a pound per piece), but were dry, with a thimble-sized portion of sauce.
Far and away the best dish was the whole steamed lemon sole in a coriander butter sauce, the coda to our meal. The fish, sourced from sustainable fishmonger Soleshare, was silky and buttery, with a delicate flavour that needed little adornment. Although the daily fish selection changes, I expect the quality will remain outstanding.
It took us far too long to receive and pay our bill, which came to £60 for two people with a soft drink and one sake cocktail. A shade too pricey for my tastes but I would definitely head there when hit by a dumpling craving – it’s local, ethical and the joyous atmosphere put us in a good mood.
My Neighbours the Dumplings
165 Lower Clapton Road, E5 8EQ