They’ve stopped serving dim sum but they’ve installed a ping-pong table instead - the Old China Hand remains a strange surprise.
Located between Angel and Clerkenwell, around the corner from Exmouth Market, you’ll immediately notice that this isn’t your average pub. Enter past the shop front style interior and find yourself in a putty textured, rich oriental interior.
The bar sits up front, along with some bamboo-cum-wicker-style seating layered with fabrics, all swathed in the colour of an intense burnt earth. Towards the back of the narrow space there is a more private area, lit by a large skylight with secluded seating, and this is where the large ping pong table resides.
To say that the pub only wakes up in the evenings is fair; its sleepy daytime persona doesn’t inspire too much custom. Since the dim sum chef departed and food has taken enforced hiatus there seems even less reason to be here during daylight.
Evenings and weekends are lively however, and the crowd take inspiration from the friendly staff. DJs take over and the whole mood is unrecognisable. The table tennis is taken up with vigour and it’s not often you’ll see an empty spot.
Fortunately, after the disappointment of the loss of food, the drinks are still a force. Imported international beers fill the fridges and this is the place to find anything from Argentinean Quilmes lager to a Belgian Vedett. The draught selection is also a mixture with Freedom Lager, De Koninck Amber and Erdinger, plus Yellow Hammer ale courtesy of O’Hanlon’s.
The Last Word
With great beers, ping pong and dancing DJs, Old China Hand is a quirky pub which is well worth a stop-off if you’re around Exmouth Market.