Much Like a Longevity Noodle, the List of Noodle Dishes in London Is Very Long Indeed

Words by Christina Dean

There have always been, dare we say it, oodles of noodles available in London but the array of dishes on offer is better than ever

Noodles have been around for a long time. Like a really, really long time; the world’s oldest noodles, dating back 4,000 years, were found amidst earthquake debris in the Lajia archaeological settlement in north-west China in 2005. Preserved in an upturned bowl, the noodles, believed to be made from millet, resembled la mian in their shape. 

Wheat noodles, like la mian, lo mein and udon, are one of the most popular types of noodles, along with those made from rice (like ho fun and rice vermicelli), buckwheat (like soba), and glass noodles (made from starch such as mung bean, tapioca or sweet potato), but there are many more to be found across East and Southeast Asia. And London, as it turns out.

Chain restaurants have done their bit to pull dishes like pad thai, ramen, laksa, udon, pho and japchae into the mainstream, and then there are places like Supawan, Kanada-Ya, Sambal Shiok, Koya, Song Que and Pochawa Grill showing how they really should be done. But that’s just scratching the surface as more specific, regional noodle dishes are becoming more and more common in the capital too. 

In terms of Chinese noodles alone, you can easily find Sichuan specialities like dan dan noodles (at BaoziInn), Chongqing xiaomian (at Noodle & Beer) and zajiang mian (at Dr Noodle), all of which are characterised by the province’s signature mala (hot and numbing) flavour profile and the vibrant red, very spicy Sichuan chilli oil. Lanzhou beef noodle soup, from the capital of Gansu province in northwest China, with its hand-pulled noodles and clear beef broth, is served at Papa Noodle, Kung Fu Noodle and late-night fave Lanzhou Lamian Noodle Bar

Biangbiang, the thick, belt-like hand-pulled noodles from Shaanxi (also in the northwest of China) named after the sound they make as they hit the counter during the stretching process, have been popularised by Guirong Wei at her restaurants Xi’an Impression and Master Wei, but can also be found at Xi’an Biang Biang Noodles, and Murger Han

You can get leghmen, traditional Uyghur hand-pulled noodles, at Etles in Walthamstow and Hainanese rice noodles at Hainan House in Islington. Hong Kong-style wonton noodles are having a moment thanks to the HOKO x Wun’s pop-up but head to Reindeer Cafe at Edgware’s Wing Yip for them too. If you’d rather be in charge of the cooking, you can pick up the exact ho fun and cheung fun served in most of Chinatown’s restaurants at Lo’s Noodle Factory

Then there are Taiwanese beef noodles at NIU and BAO Noodle Shop; Malaysian and Singaporean char kway teow (stir-fried rice noodles) and Indonesian mee goreng (stir-fried wheat noodles) at C&R Cafe and Rsaa Sayang; Thai clay pot glass noodles at Kiln; and Korean bibim-naengmyeon (spicy cold buckwheat noodles) at Arang and Jin Go Gae. And that’s not even close to being an exhaustive list of London’s noodles but a raft of East and South East Asian restaurant openings in the last month has made the pickings even better. 

At her new third restaurant, Dream Xi’an in Tower Hill, Guirong Wei is further showcasing Shaanxi noodle-making traditions with the famous thick and chewy biangbiang noodles, thinner Qishan hand-pulled noodles served in a spicy and sour soup, and ‘cold skin’ liangpi, springy hand-cut noodles made from a steamed starch paste. 

After supper clubs and pop-ups across town, including a popular residency at the Jackalope pub in Marylebone, Chongqing noodle specialist Liu Xiaomian has just opened its first permanent site in Kingly Court. Whether you go for the Chongqing xiaomian, wheat noodles in an aromatic broth with toppings like minced pork & chickpea, spicy beef and spicy pig trotter, or the hot & sour glass noodles, you can be sure it’s gonna be hot, as per the ‘spicy, numbing & addictive’ neon sign on the wall.

A good few years after its first appearance as a pop-up that ran in conjunction with Arome Bakery, Ellen Chew opened a dedicated Singapulah restaurant in the West End. A showcase for the diversity of Singaporean food, it features Singapore laksa (rice noodles), claypot seafood noodles (wheat noodles), fishball noodles (wheat noodles), bak chor mee (wheat noodles) and wanton mee (with egg noodles) on the menu, made using products from Singaporean food manufacturers, many of which have not been available in the UK before. 

Owned by Rosa’s Thai founder Saiphin Moore and Kanatip Soonthornrak, Wapping’s Slurp Noodles has expanded with a second site in Soho. Inspired by the hawkers of Hong Kong, you can feast on a range of Southeast Asian noodles at Slurp, including nam tok five spice, Sukhothai, and yen ta fo noodle soups (made with rice noodles); baked prawn glass noodles; duck udon; dumpling wonton mee with egg noodles; and even duck noodle soup with jade noodles coloured with spinach. Slurp on, noodle fans.