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London’s most interesting restaurants of 2018: Etles in Walthamstow
Uyghur restaurant Etles in Walthamstow serves big plate chicken with hand-pulled noodles
Andrew Leitch/Eater London

Where to Find London’s Best Noodles

Crispy gomoku noodles, hefty udon, spicy da pan ji — and more

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Uyghur restaurant Etles in Walthamstow serves big plate chicken with hand-pulled noodles
| Andrew Leitch/Eater London

What is a noodle? A dictionary definition of it is useless here. This is a philosophical question on the level of ‘what is soup?’ or ‘name a single other Lib Dem policy’. Is pasta a noodle? Certainly, pasta is the lowest level of the expression of a noodle: by simply being boiled and quickly integrated with sauce, it never achieves the heights of, say, a char kuay teow. Plus no one really needs another pasta list. And what about noodle soups? They are certainly a winter favourite and deserve a map of their own.

No, the following noodles are for lovers of the dry kind, the fried version, smothered in sauce, egg, or even better, just in a sheen of oil and blackened grease. This is a list for people who have heard the term ‘wok hei’ once and have been busting it out on every single occasion they’ve had noodles to explain what’s missing. From Sichuanese, Cantonese, Xi’an, Japanese and Vietnamese, to Indian, Malaysian, Guyanese, and Filipino — this is where to find London’s best single noodle dishes.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Etles Uyghur Restaurant

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235 Hoe St, Walthamstow
London E17 9PP, UK
020 3620 6978

One of north east London’s best noodle dishes can be found in Walthamstow’s Etles on their dedicated Uyghur menu. The ganbian 干煸 in ganbian chaomian essentially means ‘dry fried’ and exists in opposition to the soups which are hale and hearty but don’t quite hit the spot like these perfect fried worms of dough, chewy and glistening with a lick of caramelisation from the wok.

Etles Uyghur Restaurant
Andrew Leitch

2. Dilara Uyghur Restaurant

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27 Blackstock Rd, Finsbury Park
London N4 2JF, UK
07510 779209

Behind an unassuming facade sits Dilara, one of the very few Uyghur restaurants in London — the others being Etles and Karvon. Dishes here like at Etles can be variable, but the da pan ji or big plate chicken is arguably one of London’s best, if ordered spicy, and is herbal and numbing in a shallow broth and laden with chicken on the bone.

3. Xi'an Impression London

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117 Benwell Rd
London N7 7BW, UK

Liang pi. Cold skin. On the face of it, these body temperature noodles are almost a jelly hybrid in a sauce that essentially tastes like a liquid version of Nice n Spicy Nik Naks, which should be off putting but somehow it’s simultaneously one of the best things ever. Oh and the biang biang is also quite good. 

Xi’an Impression Xi’an Impression [Official Photo]

4. Mama's Kubo

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Unit 5/6, Palace Court, 250 Finchley Rd, West Hampstead
London NW3 6DN, UK

One of the best things at Mama’s Kubo is the pancit palabok, a riotous Filipino noodle dish that poses a tricky question in the manner of the Ship of Theseus — at what point does this stop being a carbonara? Of course, there’s pancit in place of spaghetti, dried fish in lieu of parmesan’s umami, pork rind for guanciale, egg instead of tofu’s texture... But then a whole load of prawns and squid make the question redundant. Obviously, the pancit is much better.

Palabok at Mama’s Kubo
Mama’s Kubo/Instagram

5. Seto

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5-6 Plender St
London NW1 0JN, UK

The trick with crispy noodles, with great crispy noodles, is to get that satisfying contrast between the outer bits that should look like burnt wiring after an electrical fault, and the middle bits that have been softened into mush by sauce. This is nailed at Seto in its gomoku noodles, a great chuka (Chinese-Japanese) dish sodden in a thick, savoury sauce and pockmarked with all things delicious — pork belly, squid and fish balls. 

6. BunBunBun Vietnamese Food

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134B Kingsland Rd, Hackney
London E2 8DY, UK

One of Kingsland Road’s few unimpeachable dishes, the bun cha at BunBunBun — so good they named it thrice — comes correct Hanoi style with pork and meatballs bobbing in a slick of oily broth to dip cold noodles into. After so many mediocre versions of bun cha in London the first bite is like Dorothy landing in a technicolor Oz. 

Bun Cha at BunBunBun
BunBunBun [Official Photo]

7. Fischer's

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50 Marylebone High St, Marylebone
London W1U 5HN, UK

Yes spätzle is technically a noodle and in a city without a really great mac and cheese, Corbin and King knew exactly what they were doing when they put kasespatzle on the menu even if they would personally deny knowledge of how social media works. Not only is it a great Alpine comfort food, but an Instagram classic — a sizzling skillet of noodles writhing in a mess of cheesy goo, releasing steam as its crust of crispy cheese and fried onions is cut into. The influencer’s favourite.

Käsespätzle at Fischer’s
Fischer’s [Official Photo]

8. Pearl Liang

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8 Sheldon Square
London W2 6EZ, UK

For food as theatre there are very few things more exciting than lobster noodles, the whole beast an angry red and cut up into breakable chunks dripping meaty juices onto ginger, scallions and a tangle of lo mein. To truly find out which restaurant has the best would require a Jennifer Arcuri-sized grant but it’s difficult to do better than Pearl Liang, whose lobster chef defected years ago from the previous holder of the lobster noodle king title — Mandarin Kitchen

Lobster noodles at Pearl Liang
Pearl Liang/Facebook

9. Chang's Noodle

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36-38 New Oxford St, Holborn
London WC1A 1EP, UK
020 7580 8208

Chang’s is the best last resort in Bloomsbury where a baseline level of competent central Chinese and Sichuan cooking is guaranteed. Shan xi yo po is the best of the dried noodle section, hand-pulled belt noodles with shavings of beef, lots of crunchy veg, and their salty homemade chilli oil.

10. Koya Soho

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50 Frith St, Soho
London W1D 4SQ, UK

As anyone knows, the best version of Koya’s udon is soupless, so their plain, saintly udon-ness can be fully appreciated by nerds. Then, udon — the texture of elasticated waistbands — can be dipped in sauce, while the prawn and vegetable tempura, which at this point would be soggy in the soup, can be consumed in between, still crisp and filigree.

Udon noodles and Japanese small plates at Koya, with an upcoming restaurant opening at Market Halls Victoria this November
Udon noodles at Koya
Ola Smit/Eater London

11. Joy Luck Restaurant

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47 Gerrard St
London W1D 5QJ, UK
07462 293999

Joy Luck used to be home to one of London’s great ramens — in la mian form — before the immigration raids, and is still home to one of its great pastas: its wuhan dry noodles. These alkaline noodles are served with sesame paste, chilli oil, chopped chillis, pickles, and two cloves of minced garlic; riotous yet impeccably balanced. As good as anything on every fresh pasta restaurant that has opened in London this year.

Best restaurants in Chinatown London: Joy Luck Jonathan Nunn/Eater London

12. Food House

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48-36 Gerrard St
London W1D 5QH, UK

The place to be to watch all of London’s hypebeasts trying not to splash scarlet chilli oil all over their Vetements purchased 10 minutes ago at Dover Street Market. Food House mainly specialises in northern and central Chinese fare and has a diverse selection of noodles, the best of which is the red oil version with lamb or beef, which can be stirred in at the table adding a kick of chilli to an oily, umami-rich broth.

Best restaurants in Chinatown London: Food House Adam Coghlan/Eater London

13. Hung's

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27 Wardour St
London W1D 6PR, UK

Those who doubt that the Italians stole pasta from China need only come to Wardour St and order Hung’s spaghettini fritti in soy sauce brodo with crispy capicola to be convinced. For some reason it’s only possible to order the king prawn dumplings on boiled noodles with a fuss, but add them to the crispy version that’s some good tortellini too.

Best restaurants in Chinatown London: Hung’s Chinatown London [Official Photo]

14. C & R Cafe Restaurant

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4-5 Rupert Ct
London W1D 6DY, UK

No one does a good char kuey teow, so the next best thing is wat tan hor, which is a song of char and gloop that can cover up an okay char kuey teow by enveloping it in slippery egg sauce. Laksamania does a nice, restrained version but restraint with wat tan hor is like restraint during any other purely pleasure making activity — it’s not the point. C&R’s version hits the spot a little better. Its wok hei is more soot than smoke, but at least it’s there, and the egg sauce just barely coddles the noodles, rather than drowning them.

Char kuey teow at C & R Cafe Restaurant
C & R Cafe Restaurant [Official Photo]

15. Cafe TPT

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21 Wardour St
London W1D 6PN, UK

There are two very serviceable noodle dishes on TPT’s hawker menu that can even rank as ‘great’ depending on who is cooking. One is the fried ho fun with creamy beef flank for people who don’t appreciate the sobriety of having it on plain rice. The other is Singapore noodles, not the curry stained takeaway version, but elastic and tensile and coloured mainly by char, with a pick n mix of small bite sized pork, chicken and prawns.

Cafe TPT, one of the best restaurants in Chinatown London Chinatown/Official

16. Murger Han

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8A Sackville St, Mayfair
London W1S 3DF, UK

Murger Han Han and Xi’an Impression share two great noodle dishes — the liang pi and the biang biang. Where Murger Han has the advantage is on the la tiao zi, elastic hand-pulled noodles similar to la mian which come with toppings of tomato, egg sauce and various meats and chilli oils that add compelling textures and flavours in each pull. 

Murger Han
Murger Han [Official Photo]

17. Kaieteur Kitchen

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335-336 Elephant and Castle
London SE1 6TB, UK
07466 616137

Elephant and Castle is a good place to see some unlikely South American noodle combinations such as the aeropuerto at Sabor Peruano that combines fried rice and noodles for the indecisive. But the best, when it’s on — which is rarely, but Saturday afternoon is a good bet — is Faye Gomes’s Guyanese chow mein which follows the Chinese template with the judicious additions of thyme and scotch bonnets. Umana Yana — London’s other great Guyanese takeaway — will hopefully add this to its roti menu soon.

Kaieteur Kitchen — a Guyanese food stall in Elephant and Castle, run by Faye Gomes — is one of the best-value places to eat in London
Kaieteur Kitchen
Tomas Jivanda/for Eater London

18. Bombay Chow

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220 King St, Hammersmith
London W6 0RA, UK

Hakka noodles, Hong Kong noodles, Szechuan noodles — Desi-Chinese food has a great noodle tradition that can be sampled at pretty much any Indian restaurant from Harrow to Hounslow. One of the best can be found on Bombay Chow’s sizzler section, vivid with nostalgia, the menu promising “an old steam engine, sizzling and steaming and spluttering to a halt in front of you.” Order the triple Szechuan, a vast mound of fried rice, crispy noodles, sauce, gravy and a necessarily unnecessary fried egg.

Triple Szechuan at Bombay Chow
Bombay Chow [Official Photo]

19. Happy Valley Chinese

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160 Southampton Way, Camberwell
London SE5 7EW, UK
020 7703 7516

The truth is, the best noodles are the ones nearest to home, the ones which nightcap a potentially disastrous evening and send anyone off to bed with a smile. So in this spirit, the best noodles in London are available on Southampton Way at Happy Valley at about 11.30 pm when the drunks are congregating outside and an older bald guy has finished his cigarette break and is back at the wok seasoning a generation’s worth of chow meins. Crispy noodles with black bean sauce please. 

20. Silk Road

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49 Camberwell Church St, Camberwell
London SE5 8TR, UK
020 7703 4832

Everyone’s favourite Xinjiang restaurant has secretly been in decline for years, but no one speaks about it because there’s a south London omerta. There is still one dish that holds up well, and that’s the T.E.P noodles. A variation on the classic Chinese comfort food axis of noodles, egg and tomato, this adds green peppers into the mix for a bowl of what is essentially wriggly shakshuka. Order this plus a few skewers of shish kebab and that’s the best possible one person Silk Road order.

1. Etles Uyghur Restaurant

235 Hoe St, Walthamstow, London E17 9PP, UK
Etles Uyghur Restaurant
Andrew Leitch

One of north east London’s best noodle dishes can be found in Walthamstow’s Etles on their dedicated Uyghur menu. The ganbian 干煸 in ganbian chaomian essentially means ‘dry fried’ and exists in opposition to the soups which are hale and hearty but don’t quite hit the spot like these perfect fried worms of dough, chewy and glistening with a lick of caramelisation from the wok.

235 Hoe St, Walthamstow
London E17 9PP, UK

2. Dilara Uyghur Restaurant

27 Blackstock Rd, Finsbury Park, London N4 2JF, UK

Behind an unassuming facade sits Dilara, one of the very few Uyghur restaurants in London — the others being Etles and Karvon. Dishes here like at Etles can be variable, but the da pan ji or big plate chicken is arguably one of London’s best, if ordered spicy, and is herbal and numbing in a shallow broth and laden with chicken on the bone.

27 Blackstock Rd, Finsbury Park
London N4 2JF, UK

3. Xi'an Impression London

117 Benwell Rd, London N7 7BW, UK
Xi’an Impression Xi’an Impression [Official Photo]

Liang pi. Cold skin. On the face of it, these body temperature noodles are almost a jelly hybrid in a sauce that essentially tastes like a liquid version of Nice n Spicy Nik Naks, which should be off putting but somehow it’s simultaneously one of the best things ever. Oh and the biang biang is also quite good. 

117 Benwell Rd
London N7 7BW, UK

4. Mama's Kubo

Unit 5/6, Palace Court, 250 Finchley Rd, West Hampstead, London NW3 6DN, UK
Palabok at Mama’s Kubo
Mama’s Kubo/Instagram

One of the best things at Mama’s Kubo is the pancit palabok, a riotous Filipino noodle dish that poses a tricky question in the manner of the Ship of Theseus — at what point does this stop being a carbonara? Of course, there’s pancit in place of spaghetti, dried fish in lieu of parmesan’s umami, pork rind for guanciale, egg instead of tofu’s texture... But then a whole load of prawns and squid make the question redundant. Obviously, the pancit is much better.

Unit 5/6, Palace Court, 250 Finchley Rd, West Hampstead
London NW3 6DN, UK

5. Seto

5-6 Plender St, London NW1 0JN, UK

The trick with crispy noodles, with great crispy noodles, is to get that satisfying contrast between the outer bits that should look like burnt wiring after an electrical fault, and the middle bits that have been softened into mush by sauce. This is nailed at Seto in its gomoku noodles, a great chuka (Chinese-Japanese) dish sodden in a thick, savoury sauce and pockmarked with all things delicious — pork belly, squid and fish balls. 

5-6 Plender St
London NW1 0JN, UK

6. BunBunBun Vietnamese Food

134B Kingsland Rd, Hackney, London E2 8DY, UK
Bun Cha at BunBunBun
BunBunBun [Official Photo]

One of Kingsland Road’s few unimpeachable dishes, the bun cha at BunBunBun — so good they named it thrice — comes correct Hanoi style with pork and meatballs bobbing in a slick of oily broth to dip cold noodles into. After so many mediocre versions of bun cha in London the first bite is like Dorothy landing in a technicolor Oz. 

134B Kingsland Rd, Hackney
London E2 8DY, UK

7. Fischer's

50 Marylebone High St, Marylebone, London W1U 5HN, UK
Käsespätzle at Fischer’s
Fischer’s [Official Photo]

Yes spätzle is technically a noodle and in a city without a really great mac and cheese, Corbin and King knew exactly what they were doing when they put kasespatzle on the menu even if they would personally deny knowledge of how social media works. Not only is it a great Alpine comfort food, but an Instagram classic — a sizzling skillet of noodles writhing in a mess of cheesy goo, releasing steam as its crust of crispy cheese and fried onions is cut into. The influencer’s favourite.

50 Marylebone High St, Marylebone
London W1U 5HN, UK

8. Pearl Liang

8 Sheldon Square, London W2 6EZ, UK
Lobster noodles at Pearl Liang
Pearl Liang/Facebook

For food as theatre there are very few things more exciting than lobster noodles, the whole beast an angry red and cut up into breakable chunks dripping meaty juices onto ginger, scallions and a tangle of lo mein. To truly find out which restaurant has the best would require a Jennifer Arcuri-sized grant but it’s difficult to do better than Pearl Liang, whose lobster chef defected years ago from the previous holder of the lobster noodle king title — Mandarin Kitchen

8 Sheldon Square
London W2 6EZ, UK

9. Chang's Noodle

36-38 New Oxford St, Holborn, London WC1A 1EP, UK

Chang’s is the best last resort in Bloomsbury where a baseline level of competent central Chinese and Sichuan cooking is guaranteed. Shan xi yo po is the best of the dried noodle section, hand-pulled belt noodles with shavings of beef, lots of crunchy veg, and their salty homemade chilli oil.

36-38 New Oxford St, Holborn
London WC1A 1EP, UK

10. Koya Soho

50 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 4SQ, UK
Udon noodles and Japanese small plates at Koya, with an upcoming restaurant opening at Market Halls Victoria this November
Udon noodles at Koya
Ola Smit/Eater London

As anyone knows, the best version of Koya’s udon is soupless, so their plain, saintly udon-ness can be fully appreciated by nerds. Then, udon — the texture of elasticated waistbands — can be dipped in sauce, while the prawn and vegetable tempura, which at this point would be soggy in the soup, can be consumed in between, still crisp and filigree.

50 Frith St, Soho
London W1D 4SQ, UK

11. Joy Luck Restaurant

47 Gerrard St, London W1D 5QJ, UK
Best restaurants in Chinatown London: Joy Luck Jonathan Nunn/Eater London

Joy Luck used to be home to one of London’s great ramens — in la mian form — before the immigration raids, and is still home to one of its great pastas: its wuhan dry noodles. These alkaline noodles are served with sesame paste, chilli oil, chopped chillis, pickles, and two cloves of minced garlic; riotous yet impeccably balanced. As good as anything on every fresh pasta restaurant that has opened in London this year.

47 Gerrard St
London W1D 5QJ, UK

12. Food House

48-36 Gerrard St, London W1D 5QH, UK
Best restaurants in Chinatown London: Food House Adam Coghlan/Eater London

The place to be to watch all of London’s hypebeasts trying not to splash scarlet chilli oil all over their Vetements purchased 10 minutes ago at Dover Street Market. Food House mainly specialises in northern and central Chinese fare and has a diverse selection of noodles, the best of which is the red oil version with lamb or beef, which can be stirred in at the table adding a kick of chilli to an oily, umami-rich broth.

48-36 Gerrard St
London W1D 5QH, UK

13. Hung's

27 Wardour St, London W1D 6PR, UK
Best restaurants in Chinatown London: Hung’s Chinatown London [Official Photo]

Those who doubt that the Italians stole pasta from China need only come to Wardour St and order Hung’s spaghettini fritti in soy sauce brodo with crispy capicola to be convinced. For some reason it’s only possible to order the king prawn dumplings on boiled noodles with a fuss, but add them to the crispy version that’s some good tortellini too.

27 Wardour St
London W1D 6PR, UK

14. C & R Cafe Restaurant

4-5 Rupert Ct, London W1D 6DY, UK
Char kuey teow at C & R Cafe Restaurant
C & R Cafe Restaurant [Official Photo]

No one does a good char kuey teow, so the next best thing is wat tan hor, which is a song of char and gloop that can cover up an okay char kuey teow by enveloping it in slippery egg sauce. Laksamania does a nice, restrained version but restraint with wat tan hor is like restraint during any other purely pleasure making activity — it’s not the point. C&R’s version hits the spot a little better. Its wok hei is more soot than smoke, but at least it’s there, and the egg sauce just barely coddles the noodles, rather than drowning them.

4-5 Rupert Ct
London W1D 6DY, UK

15. Cafe TPT

21 Wardour St, London W1D 6PN, UK
Cafe TPT, one of the best restaurants in Chinatown London Chinatown/Official

There are two very serviceable noodle dishes on TPT’s hawker menu that can even rank as ‘great’ depending on who is cooking. One is the fried ho fun with creamy beef flank for people who don’t appreciate the sobriety of having it on plain rice. The other is Singapore noodles, not the curry stained takeaway version, but elastic and tensile and coloured mainly by char, with a pick n mix of small bite sized pork, chicken and prawns.

21 Wardour St
London W1D 6PN, UK

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16. Murger Han

8A Sackville St, Mayfair, London W1S 3DF, UK
Murger Han
Murger Han [Official Photo]

Murger Han Han and Xi’an Impression share two great noodle dishes — the liang pi and the biang biang. Where Murger Han has the advantage is on the la tiao zi, elastic hand-pulled noodles similar to la mian which come with toppings of tomato, egg sauce and various meats and chilli oils that add compelling textures and flavours in each pull. 

8A Sackville St, Mayfair
London W1S 3DF, UK

17. Kaieteur Kitchen

335-336 Elephant and Castle, London SE1 6TB, UK
Kaieteur Kitchen — a Guyanese food stall in Elephant and Castle, run by Faye Gomes — is one of the best-value places to eat in London
Kaieteur Kitchen
Tomas Jivanda/for Eater London

Elephant and Castle is a good place to see some unlikely South American noodle combinations such as the aeropuerto at Sabor Peruano that combines fried rice and noodles for the indecisive. But the best, when it’s on — which is rarely, but Saturday afternoon is a good bet — is Faye Gomes’s Guyanese chow mein which follows the Chinese template with the judicious additions of thyme and scotch bonnets. Umana Yana — London’s other great Guyanese takeaway — will hopefully add this to its roti menu soon.

335-336 Elephant and Castle
London SE1 6TB, UK

18. Bombay Chow

220 King St, Hammersmith, London W6 0RA, UK
Triple Szechuan at Bombay Chow
Bombay Chow [Official Photo]

Hakka noodles, Hong Kong noodles, Szechuan noodles — Desi-Chinese food has a great noodle tradition that can be sampled at pretty much any Indian restaurant from Harrow to Hounslow. One of the best can be found on Bombay Chow’s sizzler section, vivid with nostalgia, the menu promising “an old steam engine, sizzling and steaming and spluttering to a halt in front of you.” Order the triple Szechuan, a vast mound of fried rice, crispy noodles, sauce, gravy and a necessarily unnecessary fried egg.

220 King St, Hammersmith
London W6 0RA, UK

19. Happy Valley Chinese

160 Southampton Way, Camberwell, London SE5 7EW, UK

The truth is, the best noodles are the ones nearest to home, the ones which nightcap a potentially disastrous evening and send anyone off to bed with a smile. So in this spirit, the best noodles in London are available on Southampton Way at Happy Valley at about 11.30 pm when the drunks are congregating outside and an older bald guy has finished his cigarette break and is back at the wok seasoning a generation’s worth of chow meins. Crispy noodles with black bean sauce please. 

160 Southampton Way, Camberwell
London SE5 7EW, UK

20. Silk Road

49 Camberwell Church St, Camberwell, London SE5 8TR, UK

Everyone’s favourite Xinjiang restaurant has secretly been in decline for years, but no one speaks about it because there’s a south London omerta. There is still one dish that holds up well, and that’s the T.E.P noodles. A variation on the classic Chinese comfort food axis of noodles, egg and tomato, this adds green peppers into the mix for a bowl of what is essentially wriggly shakshuka. Order this plus a few skewers of shish kebab and that’s the best possible one person Silk Road order.

49 Camberwell Church St, Camberwell
London SE5 8TR, UK

Related Maps