Review: Boss Lady Noodle Bar, Peckham
In the past few years we've been seeing increasingly specialised and regional Chinese cuisines in London. Once it was the case that going out for Chinese food meant Cantonese only, and a poor imitation at that. It won’t surprise many to learn that deep fried sweet and sour balls in batter and Oompa Loompa sauce are not the norm across one of the greatest culinary regions of the world.
Food from Sichuan Province became particularly popular, with its large amounts of scarlet oil, snipped lengths of dried chilli and numbing Sichuan peppercorns. Hunan also became known, with its glossy standout dish of Chairman Mao’s red braised pork, and other provinces followed: Shaanxhi and Xinjiang are notable examples.
Hong Kong is an autonomous territory situated at a deep harbour on the southern coast of China. The cuisine varies widely and restaurants are highly specialised, with some known for fish balls, another a certain type of noodles and so on — a classic dish is beef brisket noodles, and it’s one that can also now be found in a tiny cabin in Peckham.
When Londonist first visited, owner Henry and his assistant were setting up, clutching wire noodle baskets and tending tall pots of stock, ghosts behind steamy windows. There are three noodle soups available, including the classic brisket and radish, a vegetarian option and usually another, curried soup. Sides include wantons, vegetables and other titbits, which fill the table with lots of little dishes for dipping into with keen chopsticks.
Over a couple of visits we’ve fallen for the beef and brisket soup (£5-£7), which warms from the inside out, like a soupy microwave. The broth is rich and the fat from the simmering meat coats the still-chewy noodles, rendering them almost buttery. The best bit arguably is the radish, which soaks up the savoury, salty notes of broth and gives back double when combined with its own sweetness.
What really occupies our thoughts however, is a dish of pork and prawn wontons (£4.50). Not those rancid, brittle things found in supermarket selections, but soft, wrinkled shrink-wrappers clinging to a ball of minced pork and a single prawn, blushing from the heat of the broth. Be warned: go in too soon and you’ll live to regret it.
We also enjoyed a smacked cucumber salad on a recent visit, made by whacking cucumber with a cleaver to leave it jagged at the edges and more able to soak up a sweet, garlic-heavy sauce. The Boss Lady version comes with go faster stripes in the form of red chilli.
Henry has the small site in Copeland Park until May and after that, who knows. He has problems with the basic extraction, and the heat builds up inside, with condensation running down windows. It’s rather charming though, and with its long tables, swinging utensils and heady flurries of steam, it really feels like a noodle bar in south east Asia. A great spot for locals, Boss Lady is serving satisfying bowls of comfort food at reasonable prices. Bye bye, sweet and sour chicken.
Boss Lady Noodle Bar, 133 Copeland Road, Peckham (next to Forza Win), SE15 3SN. Open Thurs-Sun for lunch (12pm-4pm) and dinner (6pm-10pm).
Last Updated 01 March 2017