Sunday, June 10, 2007

London on a Noodle String

On a last minute trip to London last weekend with the boy, I managed to fit in a few of the obvious to-dos, such as exploring the gastronomical delights of Borough market, shopping on Oxford street (where I found Primark, which ruined me for the other shops due to their shockingly low prices), catching up with friends over dim sum, and of course a Broadway show (Avenue Q, which I enjoyed immensely)

The first thing we did after dumping our bags at the now defunct Hotel 167 (we found out it was closing two days after we stayed there), we went straight to Borough market to indulge in, amongst other things, a venison burger, cheese from Neal's Yard, dried sour cherries from Cranberry, and the most delicious (and deadly) sandwich from the Spanish importer, Brindisa, which consisted of chorizo, fried in olive oil then grilled and split before being put into an olive oil drizzled bap, topped with meltingly soft roasted red peppers and some kicky rocket. It was heaven in a mouthful.

Although we were only in London for a few days, we found time to visit a good friend who is currently studying to take over the world in Cambridge, where we were very lucky with the weather and went punting, which was a LOT harder than I had thought.

My friend, who had warned me that Cambridge is a food wasteland, recommended a safe bet for dinner, Nando's, a chain of peri-peri spiced chicken restaurants. I rarely order chicken at a restaurant as it has a tendency to become overcooked and is generally boring, I really enjoyed this one for the spices, especially as I had never tried peri-peri before. The chicken could have been of better quality but for 25 pounds between the three of us, with enough food for 4, we were more than pleased.

For lunch before hoping on the bus back to London the next day, we grabbed a bowl of noodles at the ubiquitous Wagamama, a favorite with many for their flavorful Asian-inspired soup noodles. I had the Chicken Kare noodles in a coconut based spicy sauce. It was ok. I felt that it could use a lot more punch to the soup base and the noodles were soggier than I would have liked. However, it was fine for a quick lunch stop.

I was however, much, much more impressed by Jen's cafe, which boasts handmade noodles and dumplings, which are wrapped by two pleasant ladies in front of a show window corner. I had the spicy pork noodles (jia-jiang mien) and a bowl of Beijing dumplings (jiaozi) to share with the boy before sneaking back on my own another day for another taste of those toothsome, deliciously springy noodles. It was my definite favorite find of the trip.

One of the great joys of travelling is the different tastes and finding pleasure in new things to eat, even if it is just in a chain restaurant.
Unfortunately I don't remember the exact address for Jen's cafe but it can be found at Newport Place in London's Chinatown.


Anonymous said...

Not far from the shop that sells the Chorizo sandwiches is a butcher that sells pies. I had an entire Wild Boar pie on Friday. I felt very full for a long time after, though I still had space for a piece of the banana bread from the bread stall on the main road.

I'll be trying the garlic prawn wraps next...........

Was nice to meet you and the boy for a drink.


Fei Pang said...

Hey Sui Mai you went back for more of those tasty noodles without me. Hope all that Cambridge food wasn't too bad.

Sui Mai said...


A whole Wild Boar pie??

You are Obelix!!

I must try next time... and hopefully we'll be able to catch up for longer than a quick drink next time!

Fei Pang:

Sorry...the noodles were just too good to resist!

If it makes you feel any better, the boy didn't get any either... I'm still paying for that one!

Su-Lin said...

Jen's cafe is terrific! Love their dumplings and though I haven't tried them, their noodles look so good.

Yeah...Primark. It is cheap, isn't it?! Ridiculously cheap! And ridiculously crowded!