Ling Lings

Simated above The Gun on the edge of Homerton, I climb the wooden staircase after Jenny as she welcomes me inside a long room leading out onto a sun-drenched balcony. Ling lings is run by Jenny Phung and her partner James Shepherd and is a place I have been recommended time and time again. She explains to me that Ling lings is a Chinese-inspired kitchen with no rules.I immediately feel at ease with Jenny, her passion for cooking, warmth, and energy is contagious. She explains that Ling lings isa playfal combination of cultures, flavours, and family secrets.I can tell you from first-hand experience that this creative duo produces mouth-wateringly delicious food, I ill be back very soon !!

Can you tell us a little about Ling Lings and your background?

Ling Ling's came about after a trip to Japan and being completely inspired by the neighbourhood izakayas and restaurants. It made me want to cook. I was brought up in my parents’ restaurants and I'm a classic immigrant’s daughter, I didn't want to work in the restaurant, I wanted to be hanging out with my friends! I grew up resenting hospitality and wanting nothing to do with it. But little did I know it would set me up for a future in cooking. It wasn't just the years of watching my dad cooking, taking in all the knowledge of a chef of over 30 years. It was like free schooling! I watched my mum run front of house being able to command the dining room, train her staff and charm the customers all in English which was the 5th language she's learnt. They distilled a work ethic in me, they made me understand the value of money, and how to treat and train staff properly. They basically set me up for my job now unintentionally. I wouldn't be here now cooking and doing Ling Ling's if it wasn't for them.

My whole cooking background has always been family orientated and I wouldn't change it for a thing.

What are your first memories connected with cooking?

My first memories with food is being age 4 sat next to the rice cooker watching my dad cook in the middle of the restaurant's kitchen. Tossing the food in the wok with the brightest hottest flames lighting up the bottom. It was hot, noisy with an organised chaos kind of vibe.

Ling Lings tack on japanese 7/11 photo salad

Favourite spots to eat in London?

Ahhh London has the best places to eat!!

From Umit 2000 for Turkish on Kingsland road.. the meat juices on the bread and the mixed starters are the best bites in summer.

Supa ya ramen for inauthentic amazing ramen. The noodles are great and the combinations are wild and fun but always complement each other.

Perilla in Newington green for a creative set menu which changes ofien depending on seasons and produce. Their bread and butter are my all-time fave. The butter!!!

To the pop-up chefs at P. Franco, I had the pleasure of eating Seb Meyers & Chase Lovecky's collabative menu which still is to this day the best meal I've ever eaten.

Bom Pecado a little unpretentious cafe on West Green road in Tottenham has a delightful daily special which I always choose to a little tiny sushi restaurant on Devonshire road in Chiswick called Rokkan. My not so best kept secret only seats 6 people at a time and serves the best sushi! Book a table in advance is my tip and if you're going for lunch choose the lunch special.

Ohh and obviously Singburi has to make the list. Best Thai food I've ever eaten but you can never get a table now. All the attention and accolades are well deserved.

What is your ethos when cooking?

I like to be creative and just try ideas out. I don't go crazy at mistakes or get annoyed if I cook anything wrong and that mentality also leads to the front of house staff too.. I would much rather know the mistakes so I can correct them in a timely manner. I'm not shouty in the kitchen just direct (which some people are still scared of?! It's the reputations of the chef I tell ya!! I'm nice!)

Sichuan tofu noodles with courgette & herbs

Finally before we leave.. What's the must-try dish on your menu?!

I am really loving the Poached chicken, ginger & spring onion glass noodle salad right now. It is the first ever dish I created and it's based on the classic Cantonese white cut chicken with ginger & spring onion dip but I've used the dip as dressing and I love noodles in everything. The ginger & spring onion dip has a kinda memory like a sunday roast is to Brits I feel. It was always on the dinner table for family dinners and it reminds me of home so much.

In my version I have added lots of herbs, who doesn't love herbs!! and a little secret spice blend to make it punchy. This dish has been through so many variations and right now it's the best one I've created.

Ling Lings

Artist: @ling_lings_

Styling and photography: @ninascottsmith

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