Right now, Londoners can put a greater variety of stuff on our tables than in almost any other place or time in history. So don't settle for another Tesco quiche; join us as we make a grocery list of our culinary diversity. Happy foraging.
Lo's Noodle Factory
6 Dancey Place, Soho
Ho fun noodles £1 for 600g; baozi £2 for 6
Follow your nose in Chinatown to get to Dancey Place. No lion statues or paper lanterns here, just the backsides of restaurants, a clutter of handcarts and fragrant skips, and a few curiosities that make it worth braving the hutong atmosphere. One of these is the inconspicuous, almost illicit, door to Lo's Noodle Factory: what appears to be a ground floor flat converted into a steamy mess of conveyor belts and boiling vats without a whiff of Health and Safety patronage. Willy Wonka this ain't, but it has its own magic, and it's quite impossible to buy noodles any fresher.
The production line is dedicated to the wide, chewy rice noodles known as ho fun or shahe fen, a specialty of Guangzhou. These don't keep and can't be dried, so buying them straight from the 'factory' to stir-fry the same day is an ideal situation. While you're here, don't overlook their big fresh buns, the best char siu and red bean baozi we've found. These keep well in the freezer to be steamed at home any time you need a snack.
See below for a recipe.
Dry-fried beef noodles
a.k.a. beef chow fun
This dish uses as little oil as possible (sometimes none) because ho fun doesn't absorb oil and can get very greasy. It's a simple recipe but requires a little finesse to keep the noodles in good shape; done perfectly, it's the calling card of a master Guangzhou cook. But anyone can do a half decent job, and it's always tasty.
2 spring onions
package of bean sprouts
1-2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil or vegetable oil, unless you have a nonstick wok
package of ho fun noodles
Fry thinly sliced beef in a hot wok. When it's starting to cook, add the oil, spring onions, bean sprouts, and soy sauce. Toss in the noodles once everything else is cooked, frying them for a very short time and being careful not to break them up too much.