NOODLE BAR BONUS AFTER BAR SHOW BUST
I had my day all mapped out, well at least I thought I had.
I would spend the day at The London Bar Show, where attractive girls in short skirts or even shorter shorts would spend the day pouring rare and exotic spirits down my throat while I listened to the great and the good of the bartending world explain the origins of The Martini. I would come away with a goodie bag heavy with free booze and a liver buzzing the tune to “The Yellow Rose of Texas” and, I would be happy, oh so very happy.
Unfortunately, The current economic climate and the inability of the organisers of The Bar Show to organise a piss up conspired against me and, instead of my planned full day of boozing, I spent twenty minute wandering up and down the aisles of Earl’s Court 2 wondering where all the spirit brands were exhibiting while I waved away people asking me to sample energy drinks and electronic cigarettes.
There were some interesting demonstrations going on from people like Gary Regan but, with the noise from the stands of said energy drinks, I could hardly hear what was being said and, so after saying a quick “hello” to a couple of people I slunk out wondering what to do with the rest of my day.
Heading back to The West End, I got off the tube at Leicester Square and walked down Cranbourn St, that tawdry little road that links the Charing Cross Road with Long Acre. On the right, I spotted one of those small Chinese buffets of the sort that super serious food people like me walk passed with our noses so far in the air it is a wonder we are not looking in the other direction.
Except this time, I recalled that a Chinese colleague of HP’s had told him that a few months before the owner of the place had decided to do something a bit more original and, alongside the usual stuff, steaming away waiting for tourists, had brought in a chef to hand pull Lan Zhou La Mian noodles to order.
It didn’t look that promising and ducking inside, I saw two French tourists poking disconsolately at something day-glo orange on their plate. However, persevering, I looked at the menu and saw that they offered a range of dishes using the noodles from Northern China and for £6 ordered a bowl of Dan Dan La Mian with peanuts, sesame and shredded chicken.
I had to wait a while, the chef wanting to let his dough rest, but when it was deemed ready, he cut it up and then deftly flung it out until it had transformed from one strand to many, before plunging it in boiling water.
The end result was as good a budget lunch as I have tried in London for a long time. The noodles retained some bite and the broth, when spiced up with a liberal addition of chilli was nourishing and delicious. The price is, I imagine less than you probably spend at the Pret-a-Manger a few doors down on the same street. A real bargain.
I am not aware of too many people in London making hand pulled noodles to order, so this unassuming little café, called Zhen Zong Lan Zhou, is a little treasure and well worth a visit. The Bar Show on the other hand needs to show considerably more spirit before they can persuade me to go back next year.