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Yipin China

April 16, 2014
After years of lamenting the lack of authentic Chinese food in North London I was surprised to find Yipin China right in my very backyard. Tucked away behind Vue Islington in Angel, it torments me to think of the wasted years lazily chewing on pale, greasy noodles while this Hunanese culinary haven was a 15 minute bus ride away. And after five visits, including on on Chinese New Year, I can safely say this is some of the most authentic, fresh and flavourful Chinese food I’ve had in London. For those who don’t feel confident about what to order, Yipin’s menu is art-directed within a moment of its life with vivid photographs. One of my favourite dishes is Chairman Mao’s red-braised pork. Slightly sweet, it melts in your mouth but isn’t too salty and can stand on its own without rice. 

Two out of three of us at dinner were being pious and abstaining from eating rice like it was 1999 – at many Chinese restaurants this would prove to be a problem, the inferior ones tend to rely on over salting their dishes so you end up wandering around with an unquenchable thirst for hours. Each dish we tried at Yipin had its own distinct flavour that complemented each other without overpowering your tastebuds.

Look at those colours! Gong Bao Prawns with Cashew Nuts from their Sichuan menu. If I could worship at the altar of this concoction I would. Every time we order this I end up hoarding my prawns on the edge of my plate to save for last. This is one of their sweeter dishes so is perfect for anyone at the table who aren’t in the mood to blow their heads off with hot chilli.

The Dry-Wok Squid from Yipin’s Hunanese menu was the least popular dish at the table. Spicy enough to choke on if you’re not careful, even the most seasoned chilli eater thought it was a bit overwhelming. This one definitely needed steamed rice to soak up the spices. 

Make no mistake, Yipin’s menu is meat and offal heavy but their vegetable and tofu dishes pull their own weight. I’d be just as delighted eating a fully vegetarian meal here. The refreshing cucumber starter is balanced with vinegar and chilli while the bean curd tastes a lot better than it looks – slightly salted with a pleasantly chewy texture. The universal favourite is the Blanched Spinach in sesame sauce. It tastes like spinach smothered in peanut butter. Praise the lord! Not an exclamation you hear often in a Chinese restaurant but there you have it. Yipin is worth a trek up to Islington for anyone looking for authentic Hunanese and Sichuan food without battling through hordes of tourists with bags of paper lanterns. And the service is always lovely –  not the default withering glare that you sometimes get in Chinatown for daring to ask for more napkins. I mean really, you should bring your own or stay home. 
70-72 Liverpool Rd
London N1 0QD
0207 354 3388
Nearest tube: Angel
www.yipinchina.co.uk

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