Monday, 28 November 2011

Hand-pulled Noodles @ Greenwich Market

When I first started blogging, my focus was very much on London's noodle scene, in particular its burgeoning soup noodle culture. But then, like many a rising food blogger, I started to stray from my roots. Before I knew it, I was writing about all kinds of stuff. I even did some posts on burgers; everyone was doing it at the time, but deep down I knew it wasn't really me.

I guess I was going through an identity crisis, which surfaced during dinner with friends at Ba Shan. "Don't they know who I am? I'm Mr F***king Noodles," I lamented. The rest of my table thought I was just joining in with some banter. If only they knew of my self-loathing at having blogged so little, over the last year, about soup noodles in London.

I was lost but now I'm found, as my noodle mojo has returned. Looking back, the first step to getting my mojo back was a bowl of tom yum noodles at Kaosarn, and before I knew it, I was back in Brixton checking out the beef noodle soup at Mama Lan. I've also resurrected the blog's long dormant World of Noodles series, and for the first time in ages, I feel like I'm living up to my 'Mr Noodles' moniker.

Now that I'm firmly back on the noodle trail, I recently popped along to Greenwich Market to check out a stall selling hand-pulled noodles (la mian 拉面). I went for the 四川担担拉面 Szechuan-style dan dan la mian (£4.50). The fresh noodles, hand-pulled by the chef, were brilliant, but I'm afraid the soup didn't have enough kick for my liking. That said, I should've read the menu properly before ordering, as it did state it was served with sesame, peanuts and shredded chicken i.e. this was the more lightweight version of dan dan noodles rather than the full-on mala numbing hot version. There was nothing wrong with this bowl of noodles, but looking back, I wish I'd gone with Cantonese BBQ such as cha siu or roast duck as a topping.

I also ordered some pan-fried pork buns (£2.50/4 pcs) after I spied the Chinese name, 生煎包 shengjian bao, on the menu. These evoked memories of my trip to Shanghai, where I wolfed down shengjian bao for breakfast every day. Sadly, these weren't in the same league, as they lacked the soupy filling. Nevertheless, these fluffy bao with their crispy bottom were decent enough. If I was to be ultra critical, they could've done with a bit more minced pork filling.

I fear that I may have come across as being a bit ambivalent about this stall. That isn't my intention. Most of the noodle bowls and one-dish rice meals cost less than a fiver, and the dim sum selection starts at £1.50. This represents excellent value, and if I lived or worked in Greenwich then I would regularly pop along to this stall to grab some lunch.

Thanks to Richard for nudging me in the direction of this noodle stall - click here for his review.

La Mian & Dim Sum Stall, Greenwich Market, London SE10 9HY
Nearest stations: Cutty Sark (DLR), Greenwich (BR)

This stall is open Tue-Fri at Greenwich Market, and the same guys operate a stall at Brick Lane on Sundays (thanks, Crispy).


  1. Nice blog - I've been wanting to try shengjian bao for a long time - I may pop a long.

    Luckily I work near a noodle place in Cranbourn st that serves La-mian - I know your 'recommended list' is very long - but it is definitely worth adding to it. It is simply called 'Noodle Bar'- they also do this weird noodle called Daoxiao-mian.

  2. How topical! I was about to tweet today about the exact same stall but at Brick lane. It's the same stall sign so must be owned by the same people. I never got the chance to try it out though yesterday as the queue was long and I couldn't justify having a second noodle lunch (although I now regret the decision)

  3. Good news about the same people being in Brick Lane - and I was there yesterday and managed to miss them. No need to take a day off work now to try them!

  4. Frank - do give these guys a try. And BTW, I've already blogged about the Cranbourn St Noodle Bar (click here and scroll to bottom). But I haven't tried their daoxiao mian (knife-shaved noodles). An excuse for a return visit?

    Crispy - thanks for the info about Brick Lane. I've updated the post with this.

    Richard - thanks again for the tip-off, and I'm also going to endeavour to check these guys out at Brick Lane.

  5. It's the same husband & wife couple running the brick lane stall on sunday. The stall is in the open area, past Truman brewery. I like the wotie. The charsiubao isn't bad for the low price. The braised beef noodle is probably the best of the lot (I've tried nearly all the combinations). Soft, melty, falling apart beef and yummy braising sauce add more flavor to the powdered chicken stock soup.

  6. Mr. N - yeah the noodles are what is about. I agree about the MSG - but I kind of don't mind (is that bad?) Glad you enjoyed it even if boozed. I recommend the fried pork chop soup la-mian.

  7. Hi Frank,

    Please can I just say don't bother going there just to try the shenjianbao. I am Shanghainese and I would hate for you to be disappointed. If what Mr Noodle said was correct in the post, these would be nothing like real shenjianbao, and to be honest, they don't even look like shenjianbao in the photos.

    I've really struggled finding real shenjianbao in London as they all seemed to have been made by people who've heard of them and read a description but never actually ate them.

    This is a real shame as I love them and actually prefer them to xiaolongbaos (soupy dumplings)which is everywhere at the moment but still of not particularly good quality ....

  8. Vix - I saw some wor tip/guo tie, and yes they did look good. And I guess it's the beef noodle next time!

    Frank - don't think I've been back to Cranbourn St since!

    Anon - you're spot on. These aren't real sheng jian bao, but they are OK if you can ignore the fact that they are incorrectly named.

    There is a massive gap in the market for both decent sheng jian bao and xiao long bao, and Shanghainese food, in general, in London. BTW - do you know of any decent Shanghainese restaurants in London?

  9. @Anon and Mr. N

    It's the thing - I doubt I'm ever going to be able to try the real thing - and if that's all I can have - then surely it has to do. :(

  10. I like the sound of these noodles, and they look pretty damn good too. I'm glad they are in Brick Lane as Greenwich is fair way to go. Good to know where Mr F*cking Noodles had its origins as well. I will always be saying that in some sort of Bronx-y accent. Have you ever pulled a "Joe Pesci" over noodles? ;)

  11. Love how you are going back to your roots.

    I just started out with the intention of being a food blogger as I love food and yet have been blogging on why I became a housewife and other non food related events. I can't even say I have roots as I only have 50 posts. :)

  12. Frank - don't rule it out, Shanghai isn't that expensive to get to.

    Gworm - I have been known to do one in a Beijing food court over noodles!

    Kelly - you should always feel free to blog what the hell you like. It's a creative release for me!

  13. Quality yarn..... Of course we know who you are ..... Def not gonna mess with you, especially if you pull a Joe Pesci ....
    I'd thought he'd stay put in Greenwich for the market on Sundays.

  14. I'm pleased your noodle mojo has returned, you ARE *the* Mr Noodles after all ;) those pulled noodles there look delicious.... and godammit I'm still craving my har mee!

  15. Mzungu - yeah, not sure why they don't do Greenwich at the weekends, as it's a tourist attraction whilst Brick Lane isn't.

    Catty - I'm back with a vengance. I did back-to-back triple bill of noodles over the weekend!

  16. Always stay with your true passion - noodles!
    I love la mian and try to find the best places in the world for la mian. Now London is new to my list of places to go and try.

    And: your DTF petition initiative is great :-)

  17. lamianworld - welcome! Love your passion for noodles, too! But you have so many more options in Singapore. As well as DTF!