Paddington is undergoing a food renaissance. Several eateries have opened along the suburb’s zigzagging, terraced avenues, including The Paddington, The Unicorn and Guillaume in the last year. East London is the latest. Occupying the level above The London, the Sichuan-inspired space is more than a classic pub restaurant.
From London Fields, a smart wine bar, to the Chur Burger pop-up, the upstairs space has been a revolving door of different concepts. Will Sichuan stick?
East London’s chef Jack Steer (Rockpool Bar and Grill, Chin Chin, China Doll) wants to create meals that don’t leave the patron feeling stuffed. “It’s light and fresh,” Steer says, “and the goal is to feed people to make them happy. You don’t want them walking away with the feeling of having overeaten.” He explains that a bloated feeling after eating Chinese is often due to too much sugar, oil and fat, which have been minimised in East London’s dishes.
Why Sichuan? The cuisine is a vivid intermingling of taste, aroma and texture. “It hits the whole body at once,” Steer says.
Menu stand-outs include: the two-chilli fish, with salted red chilli and pickled green chilli; and the Chinese-style white-cut chicken. The white-cut chicken appears pink on the plate. “It’s cooked for so long at such a low temperature that it appears undercooked,” says Steer. This process retains the gelatinous texture for which Sichuan cooking is known.
The menu has no dessert options. “It’s not the best way to end a Chinese meal,” explains Steer. Complementary seasonal fruit is served, and a sweeter option, a fruity cocktail or Espresso Martini, is the go-to. Wines are sourced from a boutique family vineyard.
Chris Grinham, the architect behind Opera Bar’s most recent refitting, has fabricated a fresh, uncomplicated interior. Steer describes the atmosphere as “lounge room meets elegance”. “The booths are really comfortable,’ he adds.
85 Underwood Street, Paddington
Tue to Thu 6pm–9.30pm
Fri & Sat 6pm–10pm