Dumpling Shack are returning home to Hackney, and they’re bringing their legendary fried chicken from Sichuan Fry with them. In a double venture, the new Hackney site will see two kitchens across one venue pumping out food from the two united brands. They’ll be serving up their infamous shengjianbao (pan fried soup dumplings), wontons, and dan dan noodles alongside cult-status fried chicken and an accompanying menu of bold Sichuan flavours. The 2-for-1 special of a restaurant is expected to open their doors in Hackney on Thursday, October 20.
Dumpling Shack started life all the way back in 2016, as a small stall in London Fields’ The School Yard Market. It came about when founding husband and wife team, John and Yee Li, couldn’t find the shengjianboa (pan fried soup dumplings) they were desperately craving. Both had grown up working in and around Chinese takeaways, so they decided to bring the authentic Chinese street food that they loved, to London. They proved so successful that they were able to open their first permanent, 7-day operation in Old Spitalfields, which has since gone on to become one of the longest serving tenants at the market. Following their success in Spitalfields they also opened a location in The Collective in South Quay on the Isle of Dogs in 2019.
As well as the shengjianbao that kicked off the whole venture, Dumpling Shack serves up wontons in chilli oil, dan dan noodles, spring onion pancakes, and a whole host of rotating specials. Founder Yee Li’s passion for baked goods means you’ll also often find treats such as Hong Kong French Toast (stuffed, deep fried, and drizzled with sweet toppings) and pineapple buns, or even seasonal delights like moon cakes. Dumpling Shack is one of those places where it’s hard not to order the whole menu. But we sure won’t judge you if you do.
Their desire to make and sell the food they love has seen special menu items grow into fully-fledged eateries, with Dumpling Shack expanding to three connected-but-separate brands: Dumpling Shack, Fen Noodles, and Sichuan Fry. You’ll find Fen Noodles right next door to Dumpling Shack’s Spitalfields location in The Kitchens. Meanwhile, the new Hackney location will be the first permanent site for Sichuan Fry, building off the success of Dumpling Shack’s special, limited-time fried chicken offerings.
Fans of Dumpling Shack will no doubt be familiar with Sichuan Fry’s chicken sandwiches, which commanded two hours lines when they first launched as a special menu item in 2020. Think spicy fried chicken sandwiches with numbing and spicy Sichuan sauces and chilli oils. With a permanent location, and their own kitchen space, they’ll also be knocking out a range of other sandwiches, and sides that could well overshadow the fried chicken sandwiches.
In addition to their core sandwich, The Sichuan Classic, they’ll also be offering up The Vegan, and The Hot and Mala Mapo. The Sichuan Classic spices fried chicken up with Sichuan peppercorns, chilli, and a sauce made from doubanjiang (a fermented chili bean paste), accompanied by pickles and slaw on a squishy bun. The Vegan swaps the chicken out for panko-crusted fried aubergine and adds a honey mala sauce to the mix. Meanwhile The Hot and Mala Mapo takes inspiration from Chan Mapo Tofu, coating the chicken in a Mapo sauce for that numbing Sichuan peppercorn spice. All that plus 24-hour brined chicken wings and tenders, and ‘shake shake fries‘ coated in various different seasonings such as seaweed powder, salt and pepper, salted egg, and chilli.
Just order the whole menu after all. It’s clearly the only option at this point.
Dumpling Shack x Sichuan Fry
With dedicated kitchens for the Dumpling Shack and Sichuan Fry sides of the restaurant, the new Hackney location will focus on pick up, takeaway and delivery, with ten seats inside on the ground floor. Think chicken shop vibes where you can drop in for some takeaway, and grab a perch to quickly devour your food if you can’t wait. Dumpling Shack’s basement kitchen, meanwhile, will become the epicentre for the creation and development of new noodle dishes for the brands. Inside, the founders’ passions for creativity will be continued in the appearance of the place, with help from Mr Lee Lives, who has worked on projects with Hypebeast and Nike.
Dumpling Shack X Sichuan Fry is expected to open Thursday, October 20. Find it at 2 Westgate Street, Hackney, E8 3RN. Opening hours will be Monday – Thursday 5 PM to 9.30 PM, and Friday – Sunday 12 PM to 9.30 PM.
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