Watch noodles being hand-pulled and cooked to order, then tuck into bowls of nourishing soul food, Chinese-style.
This Chinese noodle bar near Leicester Square tube is cheap, fast and open into the early hours. The main attraction is the hand-pulled noodles, which are made to order. There are two types: la mian (which are stretched repeatedly and end up looking like fat spaghetti), or the dao xiao mian (where the dough is formed into a long loaf, then strips of dough are quickly sliced off the loaf directly into boiling water). These are served in three variations: in a soup, dry, or fried. The hundred-plus permutations include: vegetable with seafood; chicken or duck; pork, including pig's ear and stomach; and beef. Be warned that it's a humble place, and many of the other dishes – the ones slathered with brightly coloured sauces in the window, for example – are not the choicest of the options.
There’s a new trend in town, and it’s Greek. For years, Londoners have struggled to find decent Greek food but recently we've seen many new openings, particularly at the street food level, in the form of souvlaki.
These grilled meat skewers are eaten everywhere in Greece, and we recently enjoyed scoffing some on the streets of Athens, where they’re consumed at all times of the day or night by anyone and everyone.
The name souvlaki comes from a medieval word meaning skewer. Soft pitta bread (completely different to the horrible hard flappy things we get here) is wrapped around the cooked meat (usually pork, chicken or lamb) with salads and sauces like the cooling, yoghurt-based tzatziki.
Suvlaki Soho: this central London souvlaki joint has just upped its game by hiring Michelin-starred Alfred Prasad as a consultant chef to partner with celeb chef Elias Mamalakis. We're not sure how Michelin stars and Greek street food are going to mix — only time will tell. There’s an option here to order three mini souvlaki wraps if you can’t decide between them, and the vegetarian version contains a Greek cheese called Mastelo (from Chios) rather than the usual halloumi, which is actually Cypriot.
Suvlaki, 21 Bateman Street, W1D 3AL
The bricks-and-mortar location of marketeers Arancini Bros is an affable retro caff decked with boxes of the day’s fresh produce. From the open kitchen at the rear come arancini (Sicilian-style deep-fried risotto balls) served plain, with salad, in tortilla wraps, or accompanied by a hot stew. There are other options too, like poached eggs on toast for breakfast, and Aussie-themed open sandwiches such as banana with bacon and cheese. We like the homely muffins (carrot and honey, for example) displayed with other cakes by the coffee machine, which turns out good lattes, flat whites and so on – you don’t have to like arancini to feel comfortable here. Many do opt for the main product, though, and on our latest visit these were much improved on the time before: light creamy balls with a thin crust. Also enjoyable was the accompanying chickpea and mediterranean veg stew. Note there’s a little garden eating area at the back of the property – and that Arancini Bros is doing well enough to have outlets in Broadgate and Dalston.
Yep, you read that right. Flat Iron in Covent Garden is offering three nights of free steak this week 30 November-2 December when the steak won't just be reduced, it will be completely free. The offer is limited to one Flat Iron steak with one side dish per person, to walk-in customers only, which means you'll have to get there early (doors open at 6pm) in order to avoid the trauma of No Free Steak.
This will be the third site for Flat Iron (other sites are Denmark Street and Beak Street) which will seat 180, and have an on-site butchery. The idea behind Flat Iron, in the words of founder Charlier Carroll, is to serve "delicious, high-quality steak does not need to be eye-wateringly expensive." Their beef recently won an award, too, with one of their own herd awarded a Gold Medal by judges at the World Steak Challenge in October 2015.
This herd will supply the butchery with an extended range of cuts butchered on the premises, by new ‘Butcher in Residence’ Jordan Ling, previously of The Ginger Pig, Barbecoa and Fortnum and Mason. He plans to also lead demonstrations and classes.
Free steaks available 30 Nov-2 Dec from 6pm. One free Flat Iron steak per person with one side dish. Walk-in only.
Flat Iron, 17-18 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8QH