Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Soup Noodles in London - Part 2

Last year, I began my quest to track down London's best soup noodles and you can check out the results hereI tried to be even handed and went across Asia but I inexplicably missed out Korea. So it seemed only right that I rectified this omission by going to Koba to try their jjambong when I resumed my quest earlier this year.

This was an 'it's me not you' experience as I'm sure expat Koreans with a liking for spicy bean paste would've loved this bowl of noodles. However I'm not and I didn't although it's well worth coming here for Korean BBQ.

The noodles didn't get better on the next leg of my tour at Kiasu as the nonya laksa didn't pack the punch that I expect from this classic Malaysian dish. Whilst it was far from insipid, I thought it should've been spicier with more of a taste of the sea.

2010 was proving to be a poor year on the soup noodle front and it reached a low point at Cha Cha Moon. The wonton mian were amongst the worse I've ever had. You'd think it'd be impossible to balls this dish up but somehow they managed it. Noodles that weren't properly rinsed, insipid broth and meagre portions left me hungry and pissed off. It was a total rip-off too. Avoid.

Having been disappointed by Cha Cha Moon, I was expecting Pho to be even worse. However, their pho was a pleasant surprise although the slightly underpowered broth did need chilli and lime to pep it up. I should mention I was invited to Pho so I'm not sure how well they'd perform under proper match conditions.

It wasn't all bad news as I found good noodles in Chinatown at Wan Chai Corner. This old school Cantonese joint knocked up a fine bowl of sui gow mein. Tasty king prawn dumplings with properly cooked noodles in a clean tasting broth all for £4.20 – this was the pick of the soup noodles featured in this round-up.

This year has seen me rediscover the joys of Thai food and I really enjoyed the kuay tiew moo tom yum at Putney's Talad Thai. A varied bowl of noodles featuring mainly fishballs and minced pork is as good as it gets outside Zone 1 and at £4, a steal.

I love soup noodles and I will of course continue to sample and write about London's best. However, I do feel that I've been neglecting non-soup noodles like bun and lao mein. With that in mind, the next round-up will encompass all kinds of noodles. In the meantime, any suggestions on where to go for noodles in London will be most welcome.

PS: Yes I know I need to go to Koya


  1. I tried Pho on my last visit to Westfield's couple months back. Was expecting it to be pretty bad but was pleasantly surprised as it was pretty decent but the soup was just a little on the weak side from what I prefer. So I think you sampled "store conditions".

  2. Soup + noodles = perfect combination in my view! I'm keen to try Koya as well!

  3. Looking forward to your next roundup!

  4. WB - I think there is a consensus developing on Pho (the restaurant). Namely their pho (the dish) isn't as bad as you'd expect albeit its a tad bland.

    GC - Koya has either been shut (Sun & Bank Hols) or ridiculously busy every time I've walked by.

    3HT - Thanks!

  5. Ooo, good round up. You should head out East and come to Tre Viet on Mare St, their Pho can be really good (if you get it on the right day). Or, if you want somewhere a little more to the centre you should try Viet Garden on Liverpool Road N1, we lived opposite there for years and the Bun really is quite good. Properly spicy.

    I feel another night out creeping up to tap me on the shoulder. Noodle Night! ;-)

  6. Grubworm - Up until just three months ago, I lived across the street from Viet Garden, too! The only dishes we thought were good with any consistency were, in fact, the bun with grilled pork, and their beef pho. But even the bun and grilled pork had its bad days . . . still, you couldn't discount the convenience of its location across the street. : )

  7. Gworm / AinL - great tips, Islington is handy for me after work so Viet Garden is definitely in play. And good to hear that its noodle dishes are decent from not one but two foodies!

  8. @An American in London - I guess it is worth saying that my thoughts on Viet Garden are a couple of years old. Convenience was definitely a factor! I'd say the Pho was on a level with most of the Vietnamese restaurants in Shoreditch, without maybe reaching the heights that you can get there on a good day.

    The other thing I used to have a lot of, though it varied time to time was their Goi - the duck salad - when they got it right it was fab. I think the Bun was always better in the restaurant than takeaway.