Sign of the times alert: a fried chicken joint has become a vegan restaurant.
Or, to be clear, the fried chicken restaurant that was Absurd Bird over in Spitalfields has gone belly up, having apparently been unable to turn a profit since opening. In its place we’ve got a third branch of the extremely profit-turning Tofu Vegan, a Chinese restaurant which has been wowing palates in both Islington and Golders Green since it opened a couple of years ago. In fact, one of the palates it wowed was none there than Jay Rayner’s, who said of one dish that “It makes you feel more alive, which is a serious achievement for a bowl of mushrooms.”
That might be something to do with the fact that the show-runner here is none other than Zhang Chao who – if you keep up to date with your London-based Northwestern Chinese noodle restaurant news – you’ll know is the head chef at the excellent Xi’an Impressions. And she’s very, very good at what she does.
The new space she’s taken over is on a hairpin corner of Commercial Street, and it’s pretty huge – by far the biggest of the three venues – with space for 140 diners set across two floors. It’s well-lit, fill of greenery, and has walls painted with scenes of Chinese history & culinary traditions, as well as shelves stacked with jars of chillis, ferments, herbs, and more.
As for the all-important food? Well, if an ingredient like tofu is a blank canvas upon which a good chef can paint a spectrum of flavour, then expect some very colourful menu-fillers. There’s a lot of spice, and a lot of heat. Standouts on the menu include hand-shedded oyster mushrooms with sheets of Dongbei sweet potato bathed in a spicy sesame sauce; fiery wontons bobbing in a house special sauce; Chongqing ‘Chicken’ on a bed of fragrant chillies; and of course deep fried tofu with Sichuan salt & pepper.
It’s good for you, and not too bad for the planet, either.
NOTE: Tofu Vegan Spitalfields is open now. You can find out more at their website right here.
Tofu Vegan Spitalfields | 54 Commercial St, E1 6LT
In search of some more vegan food? You’ll want to have a peep at our collection of the best vegan-friendly restaurants…
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