This dumpling house and sake bar, owned by couple Becky Wharton and Kristian Leontiou, started life as a weekly pop-up before going permanent in Clapton. Wharton and Leontiou took inspiration for the restaurant’s name from the cult Studio Ghibli cult movie, My Neighbour Totoro, and that quirky spirit is apparent in the vibrant-looking decor, which includes lanterns and wall art.
The hand-rolled dumplings is made from scratch using free-range meat and sustainably sourced fish, which goes down well with Hackney hipsters in search of good-value grazing with a strong ethical . flavour. The small plates are designed to be shared across the table, mixing and matching different dishes and filling up on healthy portion sizes.
The regularly changing menu serves a line-up of dim-sum dumplings. That means classic pork and prawn siu mai and prawn har gau, but also dumplings filled with lamb and coriander and scallop and spinach, plus a couple of veggie options: crispy fried potstickers with courgette and wood-ear mushroom, say, or shiitake mushroom dumplings.
There's more to the place than savoury dumplings, though, which is why Wharton and Leontiou are keen not to call My Neighbours the Dumplings a dim sum restaurant. More substantial dishes include steamed fillet of sea bass with coriander oil, ginger and soy, roasted chicken thigh with miso sauce and lettuce, and crispy pork belly with plum sauce. Finish with a helping of chocolate dumplings, ice-cream and a drizzle of salted caramel.
At the moment, you can pop by for dinner from 5pm until 11pm, but there are plans to extend opening hours. My Neighbours the Dumplings is also a sake house, so you can start the night with a traditional tipple of the signature brewed saké or a cocktail such as the Madam Butterfly: saké, shochu, lychee liqueur, chilli and lemon. Otherwise, there are Asian beers, red and white house wine and teas from quality supplier Jing and Man Cha.
Featured images: taken from My Neighbours the Dumplings Clapton Road.