Chef Julian Denis will close popular technicolour vegan Chinese restaurant Mao Chow in order to move its spirit into a bigger site called Facing Heaven. The restaurant currently located at 159A Mare Street will move to 1a Bayford Street and double its capacity in terms of covers, taking over from Smashing Kitchen.
With more space comes more dishes, with Denis keen to expand Facing Heaven’s repertoire beyond the Sichuan staples which make Mao Chow one of London’s essential vegan restaurants, and for which the new restaurant is named. The breadth of the new menu will purportedly take “influences from a broader range of regional Chinese cuisines — namely Cantonese, Yunnan and Shaanxi — and flavours and techniques from Julian’s multicultural upbringing in LA will become apparent with Puerto Rican, American and Portuguese twists shining through.”
An early example is a rendition of Macau baked pork chop rice, most expertly served in London at Cafe TPT in Chinatown, and here incorporating Puerto Rican coconut rice; melted vegan cheese; and fried oyster mushrooms acting as “chops.” This and more dishes like sizzling aubergine; numbing twice-fried artichokes; and a vegan blood sausage will come out alongside natural wines and a range of cocktails based on the Chinese distilled spirit baijiu.
Denis sees the expanded remit as something as a rejoinder to critics, as well as a new opportunity for his cuisine to flourish: ““I also want the new menu to reflect my own personal heritage by combining the foods and flavours I grew up around with the Chinese recipes that I know and love. A lot of people think I’m just a “white guy” cooking Chinese food but my Dad is Haitian and Puerto-Rican, and my Mum is Portuguese - add that to growing up in California, I’ve been lucky to have always had so many different cultures around me.”
More soon on Facing Heaven.