John and Yee Li, owners of outstanding, cult-followed Spitalfields street food stall Dumpling Shack, will open their first restaurant this year. The duo, whose portfolio also includes Fen Noodles and Sichuan Fry, is debuting its first multi-brand sit-down site at 2 Westgate Street in London Fields, Hackney.
The new restaurant will feature Sichuan Fry — a quick-service fried chicken sandwich shop in the works since late 2020 — on the ground floor, while Dumpling Shack will go into the basement. John Li told Eater it is scheduled to open in April of this year. The name is to be announced in due course, having initially been lined up as Sichuan Fry, before the decision to fit Dumpling Shack into the basement space.
Previous iterations of the Sichuan Fry menu have included sandwiches — such as the Sichuan classic and “hot and mala mapo” (pictured below) — wings, tenders, and sides. It is thought that many of these dishes which have periodically appeared at Dumpling Shack’s sites in Spitalfields and Canary Wharf will arrive at the restaurant in Hackney this spring.
Downstairs in the basement, Dumpling Shack’s famous, signature pork shengjianbao, prawn wontons, beef dan dan noodles, spring onion pancakes, and more will need little introduction.
Sichuan Fry and Dumpling Shack will arrive in an area that has lately become one of the most vibrant little corners of the city: while the eagerly anticipated and much publicised Mare Street Market has remained a steady hub, it has hardly set the world alight; Bright has cemented itself as one of the most consistently ambitious and progressive modern restaurants in the capital, pivoting to takeaway and wine retail through the pandemic to stay afloat; top wine bar-restaurant Elliot’s landed on the site that would never become Violet 2.0; Sonora Taqueria just down the road in Netil Market has been one of the breakout success stories of the past 18 months; while Koya’s expansion to Broadway Market in the autumn has added one of the city’s essential restaurants to one of its coolest streets; most recently, lockdown pie master Will Lewis has taken over an arch on Westgate Street where he is now serving his Insta-famous Willy’s Pies, with mash and gravy.
Dumpling Shack began life a few hundred metres away as a market stall on Broadway Market in Hackney in 2014; three years later it opened at the Kitchens in Old Spitalfields, one of the longest serving (and most successful) tenants, which inspired its expansion to the Collective in South Quay on the Isle of Dogs in 2020. It is certainly now one of the restaurant openings to watch in the first half of 2022. Stay tuned for more news closer to its opening.