Eat Here: Lucky and Joy Pop-Up, Cambridge HeathBy Alicia Grimshaw
When your go-to takeaway doesn’t quite cut it anymore, and the restaurants which are located in close proximity to your digs have become stale, there’s only one thing for it: venture to Lucky and Joy. The pop-up opened last month and is a celebration of Chinese grub encompassing dishes from various regions. Here’s what you need to know:
Lucky and Joy: The Lowdown
Lucky and Joy is brought to you by Ellen Parr, co-founder of The Art of Dining and Pete Kelly. They’re dab hands at pop-ups, and having recently conquered Tottenham and Hackney’s Institute of Light, the team have brought their bold take on regional Chinese cooking to a new home: Cambridge Heath Road. Before we get into the nitty gritty of the food – the pop-up on our arrival was booming. It seems word of the new pop-up has spread like hot bao.
The restaurant’s decor boasts a casual mix of jumble sale chic teamed with bits and pieces found at your beloved Chinese takeaway. There’s everything from plastic curtains that reminded us of a car wash to neon signs, Chinese ornaments, plants that have seen better days and disco lighting. But it’s vibe-y. And had this somewhat rustic, shabby charm that we’re big fans of.
Lucky and Joy: The Food
The menu changes on a daily basis, but on our evening we kicked off our Chinese banquet with sesame cold noodles. Now, dear readers, our cold noodle experience up until now has been somewhat of a disaster, but these beauties seasoned in sesame and swimming in a thick and rich peanut sauce, was a revelation. Totally moreish. And totally acceptable to order them again (as did we).
The food is served as and when it’s ready – and the convivial family dining style is something we enjoyed. A little bit of this, a little bit of that, it all adds to the dining experience at Lucky and Joy. Up next: pork bao. And at £4.50 a pop per bao, they aren’t the cheapest around. The bun’s pillowy softness encased the melt-in-the-mouth pork belly, seasoned with chilli for some bite and a punchy sauce. Slow cooked meat, soft, silky goodness and flavours galore. What’s not to love? The aubergine bao, again a fluffy piece of art, was still tasty, but didn’t quite live up to its meaty sibling. A decent meat-free alternative nonetheless.
Three words: consort chicken wings. These white poultry wonders were swimming in a bowl of red wine and soy sauce, and were something else. The wings, fried to perfection, were succulent and juicy. Not some piddly wing with pithy bites of meat; these were the real deal. And if fish is your thing, the sea bass, served whole and like something your mum would present at a family dinner on a Sunday was light and fresh. And the decent wack of chilli was a welcomed addition.
Lucky and Joy: The Drinks
In the adjoining arch, Lucky & Joy’s bar is by The New Leaf, the clan behind The Art of Drinking. Inspired by the bars which litter Beijing’s hutong alleyways, the bar know how to bang out a well made cocktail. Try the Chinese Medicine with Blended Scotch, Laphroaig, ginseng, honey, ginger and lemon. We ordered the Twisting My Melon cocktail for the name alone, and the combination of sake, vodka watermelon, peychauds and soda was a refreshing post-dinner aperitif.
Lucky and Joy: The Verdict
The portion size here is plentiful and each dish was an explosion of Chinese flavours; from the marinated pork to the sticky, sweet chicken – it just worked. There’s many pop-ups opening in our fair city, but Lucky and Joy’s feast of culinary Asian delights is seriously not to be missed. It really is About Time you discovered this place.
298-299, Railway Arches, Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9HA