The owners of Xi’an Biang Biang Noodles in Shoreditch and newly opened Tofu Vegan on Upper Street in Islington are bringing málà to west London with two quick-fire openings called Sichuan Popo, in Earl’s Court and Fulham Broadway respectively.
Billed as offering “Sichuan street food,” the two restaurants highlight Chengdu-style xiao su rou, a starter of crisp, meltingly rich fried pork with Sichuan peppercorn; classic mapo tofu; Sichuanese-style guo kui, a flatbread stuffed with cumin lamb, kelp and vegetables, pork, or beef that Sichuan Popo has dubbed the “Sichuan burger”; and a litany of noodle dishes familiar to regulars of Xi’an Biang Biang, including the eponymous ripped noodles, dan dan noodles, and Chongqing xiaomian served in a lusciously oily, numbing broth.
They are joined by a short menu of din sum, and maocai, another Chengdu speciality which the group likens to “mini hotpot” — a build-one’s-own stew in málà broth, but without the tabletop simmering and cooking of raw ingredients that defines a hotpot restaurant.
It is the group’s newest venture into west London with chef Chao Zhang already operating Sichuan Chef, also in Earl’s Court. Allied with Tofu Vegan, these openings suggest that these restaurateurs — like many others in the city — are looking away from worker hubs and central locations and towards a future more reliant on neighbourhood dining.
Sichuan Popo Earl’s Court is at 35 Earl’s Court Road, Kensington W8 6ED; Sichuan Popo Fulham is at 511 Fulham Road, Fulham SW6 1HH