Vegan Chinese spot Mao Chow has upped sticks and moved just around the corner – and become Facing Heaven in the process. Yes the tiny basement restaurant originally on Mare Street in Hackney has now moved to a tiny corner restaurant on Bayford Street. There’s still not that much room in there but it is actually double the covers of the old place (at 28) and it is nice to have some natural daylight. Despite the small size, it’s a fun vibe in there with brightly coloured yellow tables, black and white chequered floors, neon lights and a great soundtrack – slightly reminiscent of Mission Chinese in NY.
Everything at Facing Heaven is still 100% vegan but founder Julian Denis has developed the menu to fuse Chinese dishes with his multicultural upbringing in LA, with Puerto-Rican, American and Portuguese twists shining through. We began with a sweet and spicy glazed Fujian jerky, and crispy furu & onion tofu crisps with a bright, fresh spring onion dipping sauce, along with an ice cold beer and an ‘MSG Margarita’ – that’s mezcal, triple sec, lime and yes, just a dash of MSG. Delish.
Top choices from the small plates include the smacked cucumber (a must order) with black vinegar and crushed garlic; the incredible seaweed toast; and the dumplings in chilli oil made with ‘omnipork’, Chinese chive, zhong and crushed garlic.
Our favourite of the night was from the larger sharing dishes, the Chongqing cauliflower: big chunks of crispy cauliflower coated in a spicy rub and served with lots of chillis, peanuts and fresh herbs. We also got the Dan Dan noodles, a Mao Chow signature from the early days, which was just as great as it’s always been. We perhaps went too far on the savoury ordering though as we sadly couldn’t fit in the amazing sounding HK French Toast with peanut butter, condensed milk, malt powder. We’ll be back for that for sure.
1a Bayford Street, London E8 3SE