Friday 10 August 2012

The Golden Noodle Awards 2011-12

Eat Noodles Love Noodles is three today, and there's no better way to celebrate than with The Golden Noodle Awards. The awards are a bit slimmed down this year, but to keep things interesting I've introduced a couple of new awards.

The Golden Noodle
Winner: Phở sốt vang by Phở Thinh, Hanoi

In common with last year's contenders, all of my favourite noodle dishes over the past year are from overseas, specifically China and Vietnam. And it's from the latter that the winner hails. Quite simply, the phở sốt vang from Phở Thinh in Hanoi is one of the best bowls of noodles I've ever eaten. The combination of anise-scented broth, slippery smooth broad rice noodles and stewed beef in wine with a side of fried dough sticks was simply amazing.

phở sốt vang @ Phở Thinh
But as much as I enjoyed the noodles in Vietnam, the silver and bronze medals go to Chinese dishes I sampled in Beijing. Din Tai Fung, better known for their xiao long bao, takes the silver for a rather special steamed chicken noodle soup. While taking bronze is a massive dish of belt noodles in spicy garlic sauce (originating from Shaanxi province) from Qin Tang Fu.

The Golden Dim Sum
Winner: Wasabi prawn dumplings by Phoenix Palace

This Golden Dim Sum is awarded to my favourite dim sum dish in London. There are many contenders for this accolade, but the award goes to an old favourite with a twist: wasabi prawn dumplings. These slightly plumper har gau (prawn dumplings) with a nasal passage-clearing wasabi hit are a must-order at Phoenix Palace. They're so good that I don't mind the £4.20 price-tag that their presence on the specials menu demands.

Wasabi prawn dumplings @ Phoenix Palace
Coming in a close second is Princess Garden's golden cuttlefish cheung fun. This triple textural delight consisting of springy cuttlefish paste, crispy tofu skin, and slippery smooth rice noodle is the best cheung fun dish in London. In bronze medal position is the capital's finest sweet dim sum dish: chrysanthemum custard buns by Pearl Liang – remember to order these deep-fried, not steamed.

The London Gold Award
Winner: Eat St

This award celebrates what I love best about London's food scene. However, it isn't the number of Michelin stars that I want to shout out about, it's the grassroots as represented by Eat St. To the uninitiated, this collective of street food traders most famous for its stalls on King's Boulevard (round the back of King's Cross station). My favourite vendors include The Rib Man, Banhmi11 and Eat My Pies. I visit Eat St most lunchtimes and it has improved my quality of life no end, which is why they win the inaugural London Gold award.

Rib Man @ Eat St
I'd also like to give a quick mention (and joint-silver medals) to Maltby St Market and Brixton Market/Village where the likes of Bea's Diner, Kaosarn and Mama Lan ply their trade. Sadly, there are some contrary voices deeming the various stalls and traders to be too hipster/middle class/gentrified. While we're all entitled to our opinions, I find much of the criticism to be lazy, shrill and self-loathing, and I think all of these places are a welcome addition to the capital's food scene.

Anyway, that's all folks! It's time for my blog to take its summer break - see you all in September!


  1. My favourite awards of the year! (where's the ceremony?)

    And happy blog birthday! And happy holidays!

  2. Who cares if they are hipster or middle class or gentrified - the food is great and that's the important thing!

    Happy blog birthday!

  3. "Sadly, there are some contrary voices deeming the various stalls and traders to be too hipster/middle class/gentrified. While we're all entitled to our opinions, I find much of the criticism to be lazy, shrill and self-loathing, and I think all of these places are a welcome addition to the capital's food scene."

    Couldn't agree with you more!! Just chippy people finding something to be chippy about.

  4. Happy blog birthday! I'd love to come next time you visit Phoenix Palace. I eat it all. :)

  5. HAPPY BLOG BIRTHDAY! and have a good break! are you going to be off somewhere?

  6. Happy blog birthday! *going to book Phoenix Palace for dim sum*

  7. Su-Lin - thanks! One day I may get round to making a set of trophies and medals, and have an actual ceremony!

    Kavey/Frank - the 'haters' do get on my nerves. Any valid points they raise get lost in the shrill negative tones in which they are made. And another thing, I don't consider Eat St/Maltby St/Brixton Village to be particularly hipster/middle class - these are places for everyone.

    Susan - thanks! Phoenix Palace is ACE!

    Shu Han - thanks! I will be taking a week off, but the blog will be taking more time off!

    thefworld - thanks! I think you'll like Phoenix Palace.

  8. "Thou shalt not stop liking a band just because they've become popular." -- Scroobius Pip

    As you say, who cares if they're hipstery or not? Hipsters are people too (kinda) and some of them know where to find good food :P

    Congratulations on your birthday, here's to many more. You are one of my favourite blogs in a very long reading list, and +1 on the Phoenix Palace wasabi prawn dumplings. Never have I cared so little about paying so much for so little :D

  9. Happy birthday! I'm gad to see the appearance of the inaugural London award. And I reckon the street food scene is a worthy winner. Now, while i;ve not eaten at Eat St, or indeed Maltby St, if they are anything like Whitecross St, then they're worthy winner. An honourable mentions should go to Leather Ln too where a nascent street food scene is expanding beyond the original three or four stalls.

  10. Happy Blog Birthday ......

    Def like the London Award, and had sadly too few meals there to really enjoy it to its fullest, but Berwick street Market mid week lunches are awesome, especially BanhMi11 (who are everywhere there days) and Pizza Pilgrims.....

    Enjoy the break .....

  11. CodeFarmer - thanks! There are too many labels thrown around when it comes to the food scene.

    Gworm / Mzungu - thanks for the other street market tips. I really should explore more of these. Who's to say Whitecross St, Berwick St etc wouldn't have been medal contenders?

  12. Oh the Golden Noodle Awards! I remember when we came up with the idea! hahaha :) I love that you're still doing it! :)

  13. So happy to see street food becoming so much more of an option for eaters in the capital - why have we always been so backward in coming forward with this?!

    I'm back to work next week, after maternity leave, so think I will choose Phoenix Palace as a little celebration of our year. My 11 mth old is happy to get stuck in so do you think they'd mind a happy, loud little baby shoving fistfuls of dumplings into their lovely mouth? Some places can be a bit precious/unprepared for babies and some places love it - it can be a bit of a lottery! I'm not sure if elegant-looking Princess Garden is ready for my little ball of energy or I'd be choosing between the two!

    And happy blog birthday!

  14. catty - I may have to visit Australia to do a special Golden Noodle awards ceremony!

    Vicky - Phoenix Palace should be fine to take a little one to! It all adds to the atmosphere!

  15. That's my feeling! And I love to see little ones experimenting with exciting food - always happy to see babies in my favourite restaurants!

  16. Happy blog b'day!
    When is your campaign to get Din Tai Fung to London going to pay off? Soon I hope. Thanks for these tips - Eat Street is one of our favourites...

    Happy eating

    1. Paula/Tim - thanks! I'm not giving up hope on DTF just yet, but it's been a bit quiet as of late.

  17. Wow, I love the sound of those Wasabi Ha Gao. Usually I'm not keen on different variations (I once tried Ping Pong and was horrified that people raved on about it after sampling their food!) but this looks awesome!!

    1. Winnie - I don't like experimentation for the sake of experimentation, but wasabi har gau are totally amazing! I also hate Ping Pong, and you're so lucky that Birmingham has not been invaded by them.