The 6 Best Noodle Dishes in London
There are few meals more comforting than a bowl of steaming noodles. Many of life’s minor problems can be eased by plucking carbs from hot broth or a bath of slippery chilli oil.
We’ve chosen six of the very best noodle dishes in London. Get slurping.
Dan Dan Noodles at Dumpling Shack
Dumpling Shack have recently opened at the hot and hoppin’ set of new restaurants inside Old Spitalfields Market – The Kitchens. To gaze upon a gigantic pan of their proudly plump, golden-bottomed dumplings is a panacea for life’s problems (mostly because you know you’re about to eat them), but don’t pass up on the opportunity to try their dan dan noodles.
This is a Sichuan street food staple, consisting of egg noodles on top of an intensely flavoured sauce made with sesame paste and black vinegar, finished with a crispy minced meat topping. The idea is that the diner mixes the three components together in the bowl before eating. Pickled mustard greens and Sichuan peppercorns are two important ingredients, the first wading in with funky acidity, and the second bringing citrus-laced numbness to the lips.
Dumpling Shack, Old Spitalfields Market, Brushfield Street, E1 6BG
Liang pi at Xi’an Impression
Liang pi means ‘cold skin’ noodles but wait! Don’t stop reading – they’re actually a most excellent bowlful. There’s no actual skin involved, you’ll be thrilled to hear; instead, these noodles are made by washing the gluten from the starch, then steaming the liquid left behind and cutting it into strips. The gluten itself is then steamed into a flat sponge, which is added to the noodles to soak up the dressing.
And oh, the dressing. There are few greater pleasures than carbs designed to soak up strong flavours and here, those flavours are Chinkiang vinegar (black vinegar) and chilli oil, a right hook of flavour that is calmed, periodically, by soothing strips of cucumber.
What’s great about these noodles is that they start off kind of mild and increase in intensity of flavour as you slurp your way through the bowl. Stealthy.
Xi’an Impression, 117 Benwell Road, N7 7BW
Ramen at Kanada-Ya
Those in the know consider Kanada-Ya’s creamy ramen to be the best in London. They’ve got two branches now and both are casual, warm and, frankly really quite humid places (you’ll see the condensation running down the steamed-up windows before you get anywhere near the noodles).
This is very inviting in its own way (certainly during the colder months) and once inside you feel like your pores are benefiting as well as your stomach. Their tonkotsu (18 hour-cooked pork bone broth) is rich and creamy as you’d expect and the sliced pork on top is generally a much better flavour than their competitors’ offerings, which are so often rather bland and pointless – just an annoying addition to flap around between your chopsticks.
The noodles here are hand-pulled and bouncy between the teeth, and they’re not stingy with extra garnishes to add at the table.
Kanada-Ya, 64 St. Giles High Street, WC2H 8LE
Udon at Koya Bar
We’re so thrilled that a new Koya is opening in the Bloomberg Arcade, because this tiny offshoot is all that remains of the original branch in Soho. For some of the best Japanese food in London, you’ll need to head here and grab yourself a bowl of their super-comforting udon, weirdly at its best first thing in the morning. Yes, Koya Bar made English breakfast udon a thing. We still find it nearly impossible to eat that fried egg with chopsticks, though.
Koya Bar, 50 Frith Street, W1D 4SQ; forthcoming at Bloomberg Arcade, EC4N 8AR
Lamb Shish Noodles at Silk Road
A London classic. Some argue that Silk Road ain’t what it used to be, but this dish is as good as ever. They make the food of Xinjiang, a Western region of China with a cuisine that combines traditional Chinese flavours with spices like cumin and lamb from the West.
There is also wheat in addition to the usual rice, which means the joy of hand-pulled noodles. These thick worm-like noodles are bathed in pure Xinjiang flavours, which means loads of cumin, a shedload of chilli and some soft little nuggets of lamb. A word of warning: this is likely to be one of the most intense eating experiences of your life. Your mouth will be on fire, your tastebuds will be overwhelmed by the intensity of the spice and it’s oily too, for good measure. The thing is, you won’t be able to stop for love nor money. It’s addictive, so no matter what the consequences, you’ll be going back for more.
Oh, and don’t wear a white top.
Silk Road, 49 Camberwell Church Street, SE5 8TR
Lazy Goat Tsukemen at Nanban
Oooh, dipping ramen. You didn’t know it existed, right? Okay, so some of you knew it existed, but we didn’t until we had the pleasure of an introduction via Brixton’s Nanban, a Japanese comfort food restaurant run by Masterchef winner Tim Anderson.
Tsukemen comes as two separate dishes: the noodles and then the broth. The noodles here are a little thicker than regular ramen; a springy tangle of bland-but-satisfying carbs to grab en-bundle and schlop into your intense broth, or, as in this case, curry.
The dish is part homage to tsukemen, part Brixton big-up, so the goat curry is, well, a bit like curry goat only darker and richer; it clings to those noodles like a lost-at-sea swimmer being winched from the water. There’s scotch bonnet too, plus a tea-pickled egg. It’s a dreamy little dish and one we come back to often.
Nanban, 426 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8LF