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Jan 27, 2008 08:48 AM

A few Chinese places in London

• Haozhan, Chinatown
Very pleasantly surprised. Excellent deep frying of the soft shell crab. Crisp, slightly juicy on the inside, with no oily residual flavour. Decorated with fried basil leaves (perhaps drawing from Fujian Hakka) and fried batter crumbs.

The Taiwanese 3 cup chicken is a simple homey dish, but showcases serious high octane wokking -- piece of meat are succulent, perfectly cooked and seasoned.

The Haozhan tofu is an elegant, modern Chinese dish -- a scallop topped with tobiko on a square of nori, beneath that cube of fried bean curd, a lovely interplay of oceany flavours and a nice textural contrast of firm scallop, crackling nori and soft bean curd.

Good honest pumpkin flavour in the pumpkin cream dessert.

I didn't realize that they had a nice tea selection until later, so I don't know if they handle the teas properly with the right types of cups and water temperatures, but will certainly have another whirl there when I get the chance.

• Little Lamb Hotpot, Chinatown
A solid if pricey experience. The Sichuan style ma-la hotpot has a reasonably complex stock, but virtually no tingle from sichuan peppercorns. This looks like la branch of one of the many Beijing hotpot places, so it may not come as much of the a surprise (Beijing's cooking is very different from Sichuan). They do have the right condiments, such as sweet pickled garlic and sesame sauce. Probably more economical to go there with a group. The chewy mongolian noodles are not a bad starch to get.

• Wonderful Pastisserie, Chinatown
Their name, not my description. Excellent custard in the dan4 ta3/egg custard tarts. Rich yolky flavour, if a tiny shade dried out from sitting in the heated case. The crust could be more flaky, but that's a quibble. The green tea bun is nothing special, mostly sweet with not much other flavour.

• Inn Noodle, Tottenham Court Road
Pretty good handpulled noodles. There's still a little bit of chew in the tagliatelle like noodles that they serve with the Ja2 Jiang4 Mian4 (apologies, don't remember the translation, I think its called beijing noodles but not 100% sure, hope the description will help). This is a NE Chinese noodle dish with a meat sauce flavoured with bean paste. The sauce was basic in this instance but wasn't bad. Comes with a bowl of clear soup that's more Cantonese. Would be back to try more including the Lanzhou style hand pulled noodles which are more spaghetti like. Nice whiff of jasmine in the tea.

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  1. I liked Haozhan too - especially the Champagne Cod, which was delicately flavoured and delicious.

    1. How much is a bowl of noodles at Inn Noodle?

      3 Replies
        1. re: limster

          Limster - can you recommend anywhere in London for a good bowl of beef noodles, the kind you get in Northeast China or at Islamic Chinese places or even possibly Taiwan? Have not really found a good place. My favorite in New York was "3-5-9" on Princes St in Flushing, though I can't seem to find much around Chinatown here.

          1. re: Will125

            Afraid not; I've barely scratched the surface here. Most places in Chinatown seem to be Cantonese. I've read about pho places on the board; perhaps that could serve as an alternative?

      1. You have been busy! I'm going to try Inn Noodle in a week or so, more for the xiao long bao than the noodles, although I'd never turn down a chance to try handpulled ones. I read that the XLB are good. Did you by any chance try some?

        Helen Yuet Ling Pang

        4 Replies
        1. re: foodie guide

          Afraid not, I'll have to try them next time -- there's a lot of other Shanghainese snacks on the menu too.

          1. re: foodie guide

            I went back just before Christmas and sadly the xiao long bao weren't as good as before as the wrappers were much, much thicker. The pork and stock was still good though, so still worth trying.

            1. re: Ian

              Oh no! I remember you recommending them a while back. I don't like thick wrappers at all...Well, let's hope when I go, they'll be OK.

              Helen Yuet Ling Pang

              1. re: foodie guide

                Finally made it to Inn Noodle today and will be posting about it within a week. But wanted to say that the xiao long bao were pretty good. They could have done with just a little bit more soup though, but I thought the skins were fine. The noodles were nice too, al dente and very fresh - I took loads of photos of the chef handpulling them.

                Re the service though, it was chaotic. Yes, it was lunchtime, but there's no need to be rude. Go here strictly for the food...

                Thanks for the recommendation nevertheless!

                Helen Yuet Ling Pang

          2. Hong Kong City - the Old Kent rd - New Cross End.
            Massive place packed on sundays for Dim sum - much better & cheaper than chinatown, Impeccable simple cantonese in the evenings.
            London's best ( not trying to be fancy) chinese

            1 Reply
            1. re: bunbohue

              If I remember correctly, Hong Kong City's Dim Sum chef has now moved - he's set up his own place in Northampton - Oriental Garden in Sheep Street.

            2. I happened to be in Chinatown on a mission today, was starving, and there was Haozhan just staring at me. There were few people in the restaurant at about 1 so I was served quickly. Right after I sat down and ordered, a party of 20 students from Puerto Rico came in as did other diners.. good timing on my part.

              I thought the two course lunch for £8 was good value. Unfortunately, the Haozhan website is still down and I can't remember the name of my main. I started with pork dumpings which were OK. My main is a beef and chewy noodle dish with veggies. I'm sure someone will know the name. It was about a 6 out of 10 and nothing near as good as I've had at Penang in NYC's SoHo. It was always one of my favorites there. But I was hungry and happy. I'd never judge a place by one lunch, so I'll probably go back at some point. I liked the cosy atmosphere and nice waiters. One brought me a fork. :-) My accent goes a long way.

              2 Replies
              1. re: zuriga1

                I've been meaning to try Haozhan for a while now - I had no idea they did a £8 lunch deal! May have to go there sometime next week... ;)

                1. re: supercharz

                  There were quite a few choices. I'm not sure it's their best offerings... but it's certainly a good deal.