Age: Nine years on Leytonstone High Road, with an additional twelve months before over in Leyton.
Where exactly is it? A few doors down from wood-fired dons Bocca Bocca London, and diagonally opposite Yard Sale Pizza.
So what goes on there? Dumplings. These are not just the best in the area, they’re arguably the finest in East London. You can watch them being handmade by chefs in the busy open kitchen.
Talk us through what to eat. There are noodle dishes, of course, but it’s all about the dim sum. Take the pork and prawn siu mai steamed dumplings (four, perfectly cooked and so light you could easily scoff a second portion), or simply steamed prawn, those melt-in-the-mouth jewels. Sticking with the tiny crustaceans, prawn and chive is another must, the herb adding a dominant note; or go for the fried vegetable parcels, lightly crisp and stuffed with unimaginable healthiness. We always order the special, too, packed with egg, prawn, pork and chives: a solid plate of five is just £6.
Some greens? Suck on steaming salted edamame, or crunch down a piled-high side of al dente broccoli with oyster sauce.
The interior: discuss. It’s no-frills with Chinese touches: magnolia walls, lanterns, an oversized cherry blossom decorated fan, mother-of-pearl panels depicting birds and trees. The aforementioned open kitchen is at the back, and simple wooden chairs and tables are dotted about. Our one ask? We just wish they’d turn the bright lighting down a bit.
And what do I drink? Blissfully it’s BYO with zero corkage charge, so grab a bottle from across the road (or ideally, Stone Mini Market or Theatre of Wine) and you have an exceptional quality meal with outstanding booze on the cheap.
What’s the service like? Efficient, swift and also relaxed enough not to kick you out once you’ve eaten if you want to finish your wine. A caveat: tables at weekends are in demand, with the queue snaking out the door.
In short: It’s so well-priced, with dishes from around £3 upwards, that it could even be our favourite place to eat in the entire neighbourhood.
Panda Dim Sum, 767 High Rd Leytonstone, Bushwood, London E11 4QS
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