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IN CONVERSATION WITH: JENNY PHUNG (LING LING'S)

Ling Ling’s is a supper club-turned-residency by Jenny Phung. Alongside her partner James Shepherd, she cooks dishes that are heavily influenced by her Chinese heritage as well as years spent doing pop-ups and supper clubs around London.

To celebrate the launch of her menu, the first in our Spotlight: Emerging Chefs series, we spoke to Jenny about her life in food, from how she got started as a chef, to where she loves to eat. 

How did you get started in food?

My parents owned restaurants so I grew up watching them cook and learning the trade, from back to front of house. I value that experience so much – my parents gave me their work ethic, their resilience and their ability to adapt to a new country and become successful business owners.

How would you describe your cooking?

I started cooking to change the perception of Chinese food in the UK. I wanted to use my British-born Chinese heritage to create dishes that would feel familiar yet new.  I’d describe my food as a collection of memories on a plate! I read a lot of cookbooks and collect recipes, but most of my new dishes are created by new experiences – I move from residency to residency meeting new people and being exposed to new foods, and that’s what has led to the creation of most of my favourite dishes. 

Aside from Dishpatch, how can people try your food?

I am currently cooking at The Gun in Homerton with my partner, James Shepherd (who I fondly call Sous Shep). On Sundays, we do an Asian–inspired roast – previously I’ve been wary about creating a roast as it's a meal I don't really eat but, I have to say, I’ve really grown to love it!

We also do collaborative supper clubs at The Gun on Tuesdays, where I get to cook with different chefs each time. I'm hoping to push it even further, by not only hosting them but also going to cook in their restaurants too – it’s a great way to learn more and to create new dishes! 

What are your plans for the future with Ling Ling’s?

I’d love to have my own bricks-and-mortar place, but who knows what will happen?! It's hard as hospitality is so unpredictable right now. I think I'll do a few more years of creating dishes, supper-clubbing and researching, then maybe I’ll be ready!

Which chefs inspire you? 

I’ve curated my Instagram so that I follow all my favourite chefs, friends, artists, and anyone involved with food, so that’s my main inspiration, but I do also have an extensive library of cook books. I collect a lot of books from charity shops so I have a real variety. My favourite right now is one that I picked up from Tokyo a couple of years ago – it’s an onigiri [Japanese sushi rice balls] recipe book which is designed in the cutest way but all the flavour combinations are nuts!

What’s your go-to meal at the end of a long day?

My go-to meal after a long day varies depending if I'm hungover or not! It goes from chips, to instant miso soup with a side of scrambled eggs to a tomato and egg drop soup (if I’m being healthy). Most of my meals consist of broth – I just love a soup!

What’s your favourite spice?

Choosing just one is hard and it changes a lot, but I’d say my ultimate three spices right now are Sichuan peppercorns, white pepper and sand ginger.

What are your favourite restaurants in London?

I have so many favourite restaurants in London! I generally prefer cheap eats places to fancy restaurants – I’ve been enjoying dim dum at Lotus Garden for years; Singburi in Leytonstone is my favourite Thai restaurant and Pueblito Paisa cafe in Seven Sisters has the best broth (make sure to order the soup of the day and always get the hot sauce!)  

I also love going to P.Franco when they have their guest chefs' nights – I’ve eaten such amazing food there and it always inspires me to create.

Finally, I want to mention Perilla in Newington Green, which serves really creative dishes, cooked by an incredibly talented chef – you can see the creativity in each bite!

What’s your favourite city or country for a foodie trip?

My favourite places in the world to eat are Lisbon, Vietnam, Korea and Tokyo. I can't wait to be able to travel freely and eat in new places again!

What’s your favourite shop-bought snack?

My favourite shop-bought snack in the world is an egg mayo sandwich from the 7/11 in Asia – it’s amazing! 

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Units B12-B14, Poplar Business Park, London, E14 9RL

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