London’s only Vegan fried Chicken shop opened on Saturday 14th January 2017 and the hype on line has been crazy. Healthista’s Ony Anukem went to chick’ out whether the taste really matched the hype …
London’s array of restaurants and takeaway shops is second to none, and recently there has been a push to be more inclusive of special diets (vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free, Dairy Free – the list goes on). One such eatery that’s set give KFC a run for its money is the newly opened Temple of Hackney. It opened two weeks ago but the hype online has been incredible, with coverage in the Evening Standard, The Independent and Time Out.
My expectations were low, and my apprehension was sky high. I am of West African heritage and I grew up in a household where a meal wasn’t complete, without a good portion of meat (they say old habits die hard). Temple of Hackney faced an uphill battle converting me – it was essentially: steadfast carnivore VS. vegan fried chicken. However, I must say on this occasion vegan fried chicken won.
steadfast carnivore VS. vegan fried chicken… on this occasion vegan fried chicken won
At the beginning of the year when many were embarking on Veganuary, I started Vegetarianuary because I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to dairy produce. I have since tried an array of meat substitutes, from vegetarian bean burgers to Linda McCartney vegetarian Sausages. Some of the meat free substitutes that I have tried have been convincing; whilst others have been horrid. But, I have to say that Temple of Hackney’s fried chicken is so good that I’ve been twice since it opened ( so that’s 2 – 0 to vegan friend chicken).
On that cold January afternoon, I joined many from the vegan community and beyond for the opening day. Whilst waiting in the queue for about an hour, I had time to take in the surroundings – what stood out to me most was that the store next door is a halal butcher; the irony had everyone in stitches.
waiting in the queue we noticed the store next door is a halal butcher; the irony had everyone in stitches
Another thing that I noticed was that Temple of Hackney is really accessible, a 5 minute walk from Hackney Central overground station and there are several bus stops situated around. When I finally made it inside I was shocked by two things: the size and the price. The floor space was claustrophobic; I would say there shouldn’t be more than 10-15 customers in there at a time. Also the prices were steep – a non-vegan fried chicken and chip takeaway in London costs roughly around £5; you can imagine my surprise when I saw it was £8 for a main and chips (plus an extra £1.50 for a drink).
Temple of Hackney is really accessible, a 5 minute walk from Hackney Central overground station and there are several bus stops situated around
After getting my food, I left the shop took a seat and had a big bite of the chicken… it was undeniably delicious. The coating was fried to crispy perfection, and the seitan inside could have fooled me if I did not know, particularly when dipped in sauce, as the texture was a little bit drier (think overcooked chicken breast). The accompanying chips were slightly overdone for me, but all in all I really enjoyed my meal.
The coating was fried to crispy perfection, and the seitan inside could have fooled me if I did not know
Currently Temple of Hackney is only open Wednesday – Sunday from midday till eight in the evening (and it’s reporting often being sold out by midday). I hope to see the store open every day and trading longer hours to offer vegans and vegetarians the flexibility that meat eaters enjoy.
What is the ‘chicken’ made of?
Seitan, a wheat protein with a meat-like texture. The name really frightened me at first, because I thought people were saying Satan, but this meat free substitute is almost heavenly. That means it’s it’s not suitable for people that are gluten-free but they do do gluten-free options made from soya protein.
Who is the brain behind the idea?
Temple of Hackney is owned by Melbourne couple Rebecca McGuinness and her husband Pat O’Shea. Before becoming a vegan Rebecca used to work in KFC; like many people who move to veganism and vegetarianism she always missed fried chicken. Her solution was to start making her own rendition with seitan and the couple launched a street-food stall, Temple of Seitan, on Brick Lane in East London last year, with the demand they decided to open a permanent store.
Temple of Hackney is open from 12 to 8pm, Wednesday-Sunday, 10 Morning Lane, E9 6NA