London isn’t at a loss when it comes to Chinese cooking, but high-quality veggie-friendly places? They're bloody hard to find… until now.
Having won the hearts of many Londoners from their numerous pop-ups in Hackney and Bethnal Green, Lucky & Joy have set up their first permanent home in Clapton, serving punchy Chinese-inspired small plates in a quirky setting. So naturally, I followed my gut (which was begging me to try everything) and headed on over to check it out.
Lucky & Joy's menu of purse-friendly plates takes inspiration from travels around China and Chinatowns across the globe, blending traditional flavours with British ingredients. With all-white interiors, neon accents and nods to your local takeaway (like the menu you fill out yourself or the TV screens with an aquarium background), the space felt like a cool, East London take on the classic Chinese dining experience.
Starting off with pickled peanuts (£3.50), and spinach with garlic and ginger (£5.50), we were given a garlic-laced teaser of what was yet to come.
Top when it comes to tidy small plates, we moved on to Grandma’s potatoes (£6), a hearty carb mound with a delicate garlic taste alongside whole chillies and greens. The result? A homely, hearty accompaniment to the gorgeously soft fried kidney beans with fennel (£6) that arrived alongside them. The real star for me however, were the Typhoon shelter brussel sprouts (£7)... because I love a quirky take on the humble sprout. Sliced, fried and topped with sesame seeds, they were an ingenious creation.
Of course we had a few drinks to wash it all down as the Szechuan Negroni (£7) took my eye as a suitable opener to the meal, with its drizzle of chilli oil adding extra kick. I also had to try the refreshing Yunnan Flavour (£8) with coconut-washed vodka, lemongrass, ginger, coriander and soda. But what is dinner without a nightcap, right? The Pandan Old Fashioned (£9) of bourbon, pandan and bitters was a brilliant way to round off our feast.
The DesignMyNight Digest
This pop-up’s permanent fixture has been a long time coming, but Lucky & Joy live up to their name. Dishing out delicious and affordable small plates from their quirky homestead, they're an essential visit for veggies craving some Chinese-inspired goodness.
You can find Lucky & Joy at 95 Lower Clapton Road, Hackney, London, E5 0NP.