The second My Neighbours the Dumplings site in Hackney’s Victoria Park is going to be “a step up” from the original Clapton restaurant.
Bec Wharton, who owns the dumpling restaurants with partner Kristian Leontiou, says although the second restaurant will have the same name, it won’t be a ‘carbon copy’ of the original 100-cover site, with plans for a more regularly changing menu and a slightly more sophisticated feel.
“We want to have each place be individual, so the menu is going to be different, but I still want to have that friendly, homey atmosphere, slightly taken up a level,” said Wharton, speaking to The Caterer.
The pair plan to relaunch the former Fayre Share site on Victoria Park Road in mid-July and are in the process of transforming one half of the restaurant into what will be a dumpling kitchen during the day and a bar at night, taking it down to 65 covers – although it will still be walk-ins only. Landlord Colin Pennington approached the pair after eating at their restaurant.
“Victoria Park is perfect for us in so many ways,” said Wharton. “It’s got that small, village-y feel and almost everything else is independent.”
Trung Nguyen, who launched the first restaurant with them and has spent the last year working in the US at the Michelin-starred In Situ in San Francisco, is returning to be head chef of the new site. Former Dishoom Shoreditch floor manager Thomas James who has worked at the Clapton restaurant for more than two years will oversee both sites as general manager.
They plan to introduce barbecued skewers, xiaolongbao and baozi to the menu with more plans to experiment. The profits from the first restaurant have in part funded the refurbishment of the new site, as well as a £50,000 bank loan.
Wharton and Leontiou started doing pop-ups and residencies after discovering a love for making dumplings at home, and following a weekly pop-up at Palm 2 in Clapton in 2014 and a short residency on Wilton Road in Hackney in what is now Pidgin in 2015, they took on the former Turkish restaurant on Lower Clapton Road in 2016.
Neither were trained chefs – Wharton was previously teaching English as a foreign language while Leontiou’s background is in music – but they wanted to open a restaurant with “good quality, tasty food but in a really informal environment”.
Wharton said that the fact some guests will wait up to two hours on weekends has given them the confidence to open another, although they have no plans to roll out the concept with any more sites.