I'm eatlovenoodles from London. I've been Qyping since 22-01-2010
- Reviews: 62
- Friends: 11
- Invitations: 0
- Photos added: 2
- Videos added: 0
- Places categorised: 1
- Events added: 0
- Checkins: 0
- Compliments received: 15
- You're hot:0
- You're hilarious:0
- I agree with you:0
- Write more:0
- Cool guide:0
- Awesome group:0
- Amazing profile:0
- Great photo:0
- Well written:3
- That's useful!:12
eatlovenoodles's Qype profile
53 Warren Street, London W1T 5NL
Lion's head is an iconic dish that is synonymous with Shanghai. Before any animal rights peeps get on my case, lion's head meatballs are made out of pork. The name comes from the fact that these meatballs are massive (like a lion’s head) and is served with cabbage (representing the lion's mane).
Lion's head is seldom seen in this country, so I was quite excited when I saw that a little caff called Mushu was selling them. Its Warren St location is just about walking distance from my work so I popped down there one lunchtime. Just as I turned into the street, I was handed a 30% discount voucher. Result. I ordered the lion's head meatballs (£6.50), which came with rice but I was a little bit disappointed when it was served.
Now I wasn't expecting something that you might find in Shanghai but for £6.50, I was expecting more. For starters, I would've preferred my meal not to be served in one of those American-style take-out boxes. I was eating-in and call me high maintenance but crockery would've been nice. Moreover, these weren't really lion's heads, which ought to be super-sized; they were just four not particularly large meatballs. They had also been incorrectly wok-fried – I could tell from the charring – rather than steamed or casseroled.
On the plus side they were juicy and well seasoned and with the 30% discount voucher, I paid £4.55, which seems a fairer price. Before you think that I'm really stingy, I'd pay £5, hell I'd even pay £5.50 but £6.50 is a bit too much for a quick lunch served in a take-away container.
Returning the next day, I decided to try Mushu's signature dish, Beijing dumplings, which you can see being made in the open-plan kitchen. Available in three varieties, classic pork, beef & kimchi, and vegetable, these were served either boiled (shuijiao) or pan-fried (guotie).
As well as ordering them on their own, you could do what I did and order a dumpling noodle soup (£6). From the various permutations, I decided on pork dumplings with egg noodles (the alternative is something called Shanghai udon – don't get me started on this improper noodle terminology).
Again I was a bit disappointed, as there were only four rather petit dumplings. They were well made although the filling could've done with some chives. The broth was neither here nor there and I wasn't a fan of the thick egg noodles that would be more at home in a stir-fry. Perhaps what they call Shanghai udon might have been a better option.
I also didn’t like the disposable container it was served in; being more like a giant cup than a bowl, it was a pain to fish the noodles out of the bottom. And again the price was an issue. This kind of fare should cost £5 tops, if they want to charge £6 then it needs to be a better quality product.
Other than the fare that I sampled, the most noteworthy Chinese dish is the Beijing classic, spicy ja jiang noodles (zhajiangmian); whilst the Japanese choices include yaki soba and chicken katsu curry. I’m normally apprehensive when I see places that 'mix and match' cuisines but given the brevity of the menu, there's not much scope to balls things up.
I've had a good moan about the prices but there is a 10% discount for students and NHS staff. Very handy for those that work or study at the nearby University College Hospital.
I really wanted to like Mushu as treats like lion's head and freshly made Beijing dumplings are all too rare in London. Unfortunately, I think the food is ordinary and overpriced, and compares unfavourably with the likes of Hare & Tortoise.
22 Lisle Street, London WC2H 7BA
Young Cheng in the heart of London's Chinatown has been on my radar for a few months ever since my Dad bought some superior take-away Cantonese BBQ there. I finally got round to eating at this restaurant the other week. I was going to order some three roasts noodles before another dish caught my eye.
Fuzhou fish ball ho fun in soup (£5.50) screamed out to me from the lunch menu and was begging to be ordered. However, I had some reservations owing to some bad fish ball experiences at HK Diner and Fuzhou Restaurant.
Thankfully, this bowl of noodles went someway in restoring my faith in the humble fish ball. After all, I could have no complaints about the generous helping of six puffy fish balls filled with ground pork complemented by slippery smooth ho fun noodles in a bowl of clean tasting broth.
The fish balls were reassuringly misshapen, which to me indicated that they were own-made but sadly they weren't that 'QQ' or springy. That said, the ground pork filling – the defining feature of Fuzhou fish balls – was juicy and flavoursome. The broth would've been a tad plain but for some fried garlic bits that ever so subtly gave it a lift.
I also bought a portion of take-away roast belly pork. This had nice crispy crackling and plenty of five-spice flavour. A winner and a bargain at £5.50; I'll be sure to return and sample the rest of their roast meats.
I visited the Lisle St branch of Young Cheng, there are a couple of others in Chinatown, and it's a bit of an 'all things to all people' kind of joint. At lunchtime, it serves dim sum and one-dish meals whilst the main à la carte selection includes Cantonese favourites of both the hard-core and tourist-friendly variety. In common with many Chinatown joints, service was fast and furious but without being too brusque.
59 Watford Way, Hendon, London NW4 3AX
Gourmet Garden looks like a suburban Chinese restaurant but among the everyday Anglo-Chinese offerings, its menu features a wide selection of dishes from Malaysia and Singapore. Most of these are Malaysian Chinese with the odd Malay dish.
My favourite was the fried crab with sambal belachan. I’ve never crab prepared this way before despite belachan, a pungent fermented shrimp paste, being a common ingredient in Straits cuisine.
Frying belachan with chilli, minced garlic, shallot paste and sugar makes sambal belachan, the basis of the gravy in this dish. And what a gravy, already fiery and shrimpy, it was further enhanced by a generous helping of dried shrimps (har mai); an ideal accompaniment to the perfectly cooked sweet fresh crab.
Gourmet Garden’s boss explained that as well as being their signature dish; this style of crab was quite unique to her restaurant as it was their very own creation. Served as an intermediate course, it was the highlight of the evening. Looking back, I should’ve asked whether they could’ve rustled up some deep fried Chinese buns (mantou) to dip into this rich gravy.
My favourite starter was the Teochew ngoh hiang, minced pork & prawns wrapped in beancurd skin then deep-fried. This was served sliced and was liberally laced with five-spice powder from which the dish’s name is derived. Kweh pi tee are dainty crispy pastry cups filled with vegetables and topped with a prawn and these were OK. I wasn’t that impressed by the achar but I’m not really a pickled vegetable kind of guy.
I fear that my impressions of the Hainanese chicken were spoiled by the memories of eating this dish in Singapore. This dish demands that the bird be just cooked and whilst it wasn’t overcooked, it just didn’t seem as juicy and moist as the chicken I tasted recently in Singapore.
The spice level of the rendang beef hadn’t been dumbed down and it had a reassuringly kick to it. Unfortunately, the meat wasn’t as tender as it should be but this is a common problem with ‘slow-cooked’ dishes in restaurants. I couldn’t find fault with the kangkong (morning glory) but with hindsight, I would’ve preferred it stir-fried with belachan rather than fresh chilli & fermented beancurd.
There was plenty of prawns, chicken, fried tofu, fish balls, and noodles in the Singapore laksa. So it was quite ironic that this generosity spoiled the dish as the noodle-gravy balance was all wrong. With so much ‘stuff’, there wasn’t enough laksa gravy to go round.
196-198 Stanley Road, Teddington, London TW11 8UE
Imperial China in Teddington is proper old school and has everything I look for in a dim sum restaurant. However, I can’t take the credit for unearthing this hidden gem, as it was my sister who suggested coming here for a family get-together. We reserved a table for 11.30am, as this was the only slot available for a busy Sunday. The dining room was near empty on our arrival but by the time we left, the restaurant was full and there was an expectant queue.
It wasn’t surprising that it was busy, as the food at this unassuming suburban restaurant is of a very high standard. The dim sum is freshly made, well seasoned and cooked with a light hand at the steamer and the fryer.
There’s a lot to like about Imperial China with its quality food, good service, value for money, and warm family atmosphere. Prices of dim sum start at £2.30.
Compared to other dim sum joints in London, it’s better than Camden’s much-lauded Yum Cha and is streets ahead of anything Chinatown can offer. In fact I would go so far to bracket it alongside Pearl Liang and Phoenix Palace as my go-to dim sum restaurants.
I know Teddington might as well be on Mars for some but if you don't live too far away then I highly recommend making the trek to Zone 6.
10 Hogarth Place, London SW5 0QT
General Tso's chicken is to American-Chinese cuisine, what chicken tikka masala is to Anglo-Indian cuisine. Whilst not exactly authentic, this combination of lightly battered fried chicken in a tangy spicy sauce with garlic, ginger, and chilli pepper is probably the best-known Chinese dish in America. When I did look this dish up on the internet, I can't say I was that interested in it but over the years my indifference has waned and I've found myself wanting to check it out.
So when meandering around Earl's Court one day, I got quite excited when I spotted the similarly named General Shou's crispy chicken at No.10 Restaurant. I would've tried it on the spot but for the fact that I was full. The other thing holding me back was that I wasn't 100% sure that it was the same dish as General Tso's. With that in mind, I made a note of the Chinese name, 左宗堂雞, and this matched when I checked it on the interweb.
I'm also glad I waited, as I realised having never eaten this dish, I had no idea how it should taste. That's when I decided to call in some expert help with some North American expat friends.
To be honest, I was a bit disappointed when I finally sampled this dish in that it was like a bog standard sweet & sour with some chilli. I'm also not sure what the hell peanuts were doing in there either. It was as if General Tso had started a fight with Kung Pao and won custody of the peanuts. My fellow diners agreed that this faux-General was a bit of a let down. The search for the real General Tso in London goes on.
What about the rest of the meal? To be honest, it was a mixed bag. My tip would be to stick to the Sichuan specials at the front of the menu. The boiled beef aka shui zhu niu rou, spicy shredded chicken cold noodles, and sea spicy aubergines aka yuxiang qiezi were amongst the better dishes of the evening. On the downside, we were a tad miffed that the dry fried green beans were off the menu.
Less successful was the Cantonese twin platter of siu yuk (crispy belly pork) and cha siu (honey roast pork). The siu yuk was obviously reheated and too dry whilst the cha siu was tired looking and had far too much red food colouring. That said the gai lan stir-fried w/garlic was well cooked.
Together with rice, drinks, and service, the bill clocked in at around £75 or £15/head - pretty good value. For a similar price, Chilli Cool is superior but still it's good to know that there's a restaurant in Earl's Court that knocks out competent Sichuan.
118-120 Shaftesbury Avenue, Soho, London W1D 5EP
I've previously eaten Hunan food in China but I can't remember too much about it except that I enjoyed it and it was spicy. Needless to say, this was in my civilian days before I took photos and documented what I ate. So it was a real pleasure that a friend of a friend – who hails from Hunan – was part of our party of four to show us the ropes. I'm not so sure she was as pleased though, as she had to field 101 questions about her native cuisine.
First impressions were good and I liked the fully bilingual menu with pictures, which was pretty much 100% Hunan with the exception of a small selection of 'Greatest Hits' for the less adventurous. The clientele was predominantly Mainland Chinese sprinkled with a few tourists. The interior was clean and modern but in my opinion over lit.
Onto the food and we gave the cold starters a miss and dived straight into a selection of main dishes. I enjoyed the Xiangxi-style dry pot duck w/baby ginger (£15.80), which was presented in a mini-wok sat atop a burner. This dish featured bits of duck (on the bone) and vegetables in a gravy that was lent heat and depth from the chillies and the ginger respectively.
Fielding my questions, W advised that this dish was from the west of Hunan and that the presentation with the burner was gimmicky and not strictly traditional. Mind you that was a moot point, as the burner prematurely extinguished, which meant the gravy didn't reduce, as it should.
How a Chinese restaurant prepares fish is always a good indication of its ability in the kitchen. Golden Day passes with flying colours with its steamed sea bass w/home-chilli paste (£15.80). This was perfectly steamed and the delicate flesh flaked off, as it should. The chilli sauce was really powerful and was the only really spicy hot flavour of the night. It should've been a winner but it wasn't, as in my opinion, steamed sea bass and chilli sauce are uneasy bedfellows.
With such a delicate fish, this robust chilli sauce was too overwhelming. I do enjoy spicy fish dishes, like those in Sichuan restaurants but the fish used in such dishes is meatier and has been coated to protect the flesh. That said, perhaps years of eating steamed fish the Cantonese way with ginger, spring onion, and soy has conditioned my tastes, as everyone else liked this dish.
Of the other selections, authentic sun dried green beans w/pork slice (£8.50) was a home-style dish that had a nice kick to it although we could've handled more heat. The mashed aubergine w/Hunan local taste (£6.80) was presented beautifully with the pestle that was used to mash the aubergine at the table. This silky smooth dish is a must-order for all the lovers of the 'gine genie. Taste wise, I thought I could detect sesame although others thought it smoky.
For sides, we also ordered competently done morning glory w/garlic (£8.50) and some Chef's special fried ho fun with beef (£5.50), which was OK but not as good as you can get in a Cantonese joint. The bill with rice, drinks and service came to £100, which at £25/head was reasonable value. Service was a little inattentive as the tea took a while in coming. Mind you, they did let us linger after the meal, which isn't always the way in some Chinese establishments.
Opinions were mixed with little or no consensus over favourite dishes. My friends didn't think it hit the heights of a previous visit, although they sampled 14 different dishes that day. W thought it average and toned down, which is to be expected coming from a Hunan native. I enjoyed the food but it didn't change my world. That said there's more than enough interesting dishes to lure me back.
146 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, London SW15 2SW
The Sunday lunch roast beef (£14.50) was excellent. There's not a lot you can say about this but it was good quality meat that wasn't overcooked and actually tasted of beef. The portion size was so generous that the vegetables had to be served separately
Minor grumbles include the giant Yorkshire pudding being a bit doughy although this was mitigated by the fact that it was freshly made. The dining room was also a bit clattery but I guess it's better for a restaurant to be too loud rather than too quiet.
With a round of drinks and a tip, the bill came to £20/head. Not bad at all for Putney especially when you consider how many places serve smaller lower quality Sunday lunches for the same price.
Returning a few weeks later for brunch, I had high hopes for their Full English breakfast (£7.50). This was duly ordered and although it included egg, bacon, sausage, black pudding, tomato, mushroom, and toast, it lacked baked beans, which I had to order separately for 75p.
I'm a bit of a prima donna when it comes to fry-up's in that I have to have my beans separate from my egg. The waitress said that wouldn't be a problem and she made a note that the beans be served separately to avoid any possibility of bean-egg contact.
So you can imagine I wasn't best pleased that the beans were served on top of the egg. I couldn't really give a toss if that was the only problem. But it wasn't, the egg yolks were hard and the bacon burnt, which is pretty unforgivable in a cooked breakfast.
Paradoxically, my friend's scrambled eggs were a bit underdone although they managed not to murder his bacon. Moreover with the exception of the excellent black pudding, the ingredients weren't of a quality commensurate with a £7.50 price-tag. In particular, we both thought that the sausage was below par. Oh and they served our toast ages before the rest of the breakfast, which meant it was stone-cold by the time our fry-up's arrived.
It was hard to believe that the same kitchen that knocked up such an excellent Sunday roast was responsible for our below par Full English. For all our disappointment though, a special mention goes to our waitress who offered an unprompted apology for the bean-egg contact and was a star throughout. It's a shame when decent front-of-house is undermined by a lack of care and attention in the kitchen.
With hot drinks, juices and a tip, the bill came to £15/head. I'm hoping my experience was a one-off, as given the poor quality of the breakfast it wasn't particularly good value.
The 3-star rating is based on this place being nearly 5 stars for the lunch and closer to 1 star for breakfast. I hope they iron out the inconsistencies cos there's a lot to like about this place.
5 Macclesfield Street, London Chinatown, London W1D 6AY
22-01-2010 (updated on 13-07-2010)
I’ve never understood why the Straits cuisine of Malaysia and Singapore isn’t more popular. Given the popularity of Chinese, Indian and Thai food in the UK, you’d have thought it’d be a winner especially as it has much in common with all three.
Whilst Indian is the traditional choice for post-pub dining, I reckon Straits cuisine would make for great way to end the evening. To put this theory to the test, I met up with my old mate, the Italian Shetland Pony, his missus and a few other muckers on a pre-Christmas Friday night out.
After a few beers in Soho – all in the cause of research – we pitched up at Rasa Sayang sometime after 11pm.
Being a bit of a control freak, I took charge and ordered some sides to share - 3 portions of roti canai, a portion of curry cheong fan (both pictured above) and 2 portions of spring rolls. The coconutty curry sauce in the first two dishes was really zingy and I wish I ordered more of the cheong fan as these rice noodles were very more-ish.
For the mains, I let people order their own - I had beef rendang (pictured above) – spicy yet with the distinct taste of the coconut milk coming through. ISP ordered a giant bowl of curry laksa (photo at top) and I guess he enjoyed it as he soon polished it off. Other mains included nasi lemak and a couple of dishes that I didn’t make a proper note of – one was a stir fried noodle dish of Hokkien origins and the other was a chicken curry served with roti.
A great end to a great evening - Straits cuisine is ideal for late night dining be you sober or drunk. Rasa Sayang is far superior to your average late night ruby and much better value too. The damage was a mere £14/head including service and a round of drinks.
Update - July 2010
A quick mention for my favourite dish here, fried fish vermicelli (£6.90). In Cantonese, this dish is called yu tou fen, which translates as fish head vermicelli ! As well as the fried fish head, this dish includes fried fish, preserved veg, tomatoes, tung choi (morning glory), and rice vermicelli in a broth topped with fried shallots and spring onion.
As with many of the best soup noodle dishes, it’s the broth that makes the dish. In this case, the milky broth is different class, with fishy undertones cut through with the almost medicinal qualities of Chinese wine/tonic. This is a “if Carlsberg did noodles” bowl of noodles and whilst fish head may not be to all tastes, it is in my opinion, one of the finest noodle dishes in London.
11-13 The Brunswick, Brunswick Square, London WC1N 1BP
This mini-chain combines Chinese, Japanese, and Malaysian offerings in a café-style environment, which of course sounds a bit like Wagamama. This put me off coming here for a long time even though the Bloomsbury branch is close to my office.
Of their offerings, I prefer their soup noodles to their stir-fried noodles. In particular, I like the curry laksa (£6.25), which is generously topped with chicken, fried tofu, prawn, squid, and fish cake. Although this was a different variant to one I had at Kiasu, I thought the laksa here was superior.
In contrast, my take-away yaki udon (£6) was a bit lacklustre. Whilst it was good value and chock full of roast pork, squid, prawn, and crabstick, it lacked quality. The presence of crabstick was puzzling but I was more disappointed by the lack of garnish, such as pickled ginger and spicy fish powder that normally accompany Japanese fried noodles.
Whilst Hare & Tortoise may lack a bit of quality, it’s much better (and cheaper) than Wagamama. Overall a decent good value option for noodles, if you find yourself in the vicinity of one.
49 Frith Street, Soho, London W1D 4SQ
It seems like a lifetime ago since I descended on Koya with a group that included fellow bloggers The Grubworm, Uyen, and Tom & Jen. Unlike most noodle joints in town, Koya sticks to one type of noodle, udon, prepared in the following ways:
atsu-atsu - hot udon hot broth
hiya-atsu - cold udon hot broth
hiya-hiya - cold udon cold sauce
Now you might think this would be manna from heaven to a noodle-lover but the thing is, udon isn’t one of my favourite noodles. I also prefer them stir-fried rather than in a soup or served cold. Combined with the hype generated by bloggers and critics, I was worried that Koya wouldn’t live up to expectations.
So it was with some apprehension that I ordered my niku atsu-atsu or beef w/hot udon in hot broth (£8.50). I needn’t have worried, as the noodles were of a quality that I’ve never encountered before in udon, perhaps they do go with soup after all. And the broth was also mighty fine, clean and natural with hints of ginger.
Being a bit of a pleb, I also ordered some tanuki or tempura batter bits to go with my noodles. The others went for different combos of atsu-atsu, hiya-atsu, and hiya-hiya, which met with universal approval. I particularly liked the look of Jen’s tempura that came with her hiya-hiya. One of our party went for a donburi rice bowl, which may seem a strange order but as you might have guessed was competently done.
However, much as I loved the noodles here, it was the small plates that I was most impressed with. In particular, the kakuni or braised pork belly with cider (£6) was truly outstanding – the ‘melt in the mouth’ cider infused pork belly combined wonderfully with the wasabi dip.
We also enjoyed the other small plates of kamo roast (roast duck), kaiso salad (seaweed salad), and lenkon salad (lotus root & green salad). All in all, a great meal with great company that cost around £20 per head with a round of drinks.
I returned a week later but was a little disappointed by my special of prawn & seaweed atsu-atsu. Whilst there was nothing wrong with the seaweed and noodles combo, there was only a solitary prawn and I felt a little short changed. However, the kakuni was again to die for, this time with an added bonus of a spare rib. And my friend enjoyed her buta miso hiya-atsu although she struggled with getting the cold udon into the hot pork & miso paste broth – is there a easy way of doing this?
Whilst Koya is pricier than many noodle options in London, I think its worth it and I’m pleased to report that this is one restaurant that lives up to the hype. I also noticed some seating looking into the kitchen on my second visit and I need to a bag a seat there next time.
- London 62 reviews
- Leicester Square, London 9 reviews
- Soho, London 8 reviews
- Wimbledon, London 5 reviews
- Fitzrovia, London 5 reviews
- Bloomsbury, London 4 reviews
- Marylebone, London 3 reviews
- Bayswater, London 2 reviews
- Kings Cross, London 2 reviews
- Shoreditch, London 2 reviews
- Kingston upon Thames, London 2 reviews
- Putney, London 2 reviews
- Clapham, London 2 reviews
- Chelsea, London 1 review
- Millbank, London 1 review
- Mitcham, London 1 review
- Brentford, London 1 review
- Clerkenwell, London 1 review
- Waterloo, London 1 review
- Acton, London 1 review
- Barnes, London 1 review
- Deptford, London 1 review
- St. James's, London 1 review
- Paddington, London 1 review
- Tooting, London 1 review
- Earls Court, London 1 review
- Teddington, London 1 review
- Hendon, London 1 review