Noodle & Beer in Spitalfields, like Happy Nightmares (a wryly named bed shop in Bethnal Green) and Vapey Cakes (an inexplicable bubble tea and vape café in Surrey Quays), is one of London’s many excellently titled businesses. The appeal of this Chongqing noodle and Sichuan restaurant isn’t limited to the irresistible combination of its name though, even if we do think it’s a compelling one. No, it’s strongest appeal comes in all shapes and sizes: crinkle-cut chips, deep bowls of handmade noodles and broth, and perfectly spherical red bean-filled taro balls.
The menu at Noodle & Beer is an annoying one. In that you’ll want to order and eat almost everything off of it, and yet you only have one measly stomach to try and fit it all into. This will likely lead to overordering. You’ll go small plates, like the fat and chewy tian-shui mian with a side of choo-shou, and then you’ll go noodles, maybe niu-rou mian, and then you’ll also be unable to resist a bowl of tangy gong-bao ji ding, for the table. We say for the table but we also mean for your fridge, because that’s what everyone should have in mind when ordering here.
Of all the many excellent combinations of things at Noodle & Beer, it’s the lang-ya tu dou and our mouths that we like best. What can we say? There’s just something about a plate of handmade crinkle-cut and wok-fried chips bathing in Sichuan chilli oil that greedy snapping chopsticks and our gaping gob really get on with. In fact a majority of the small plates here have that insatiable group deliciousness that makes you think that you could, in theory, keep eating a piece or two of crispy su-rou with a plump choo-shou chaser for the rest of time. This thought would of course come while eyeing up another round of fat udon in a sweet sesame sauce. But not before you pinch one more chip en route.
Location-wise the space, in the quiet respite off of Spitalfields Market, makes for an excellent lowkey lunch or dinner venue. And you can just as easily swing by here for a solitary bowl of noodle soup as you can for a multi-plate, many-stomachs extravaganza. Also, delivery and takeaway is available and the staff have an excellent thing going where they throw free gifts into the delivery bag, like Louis Vuitton perfume samples, or a mini Aperol spritz kit. A delicious dinner and a little present? Now that’s a winning combination.
These thick, square, cold udon sit in a pool of sauce featuring soy, peanut, Sichuan pepper, and sesame. You could describe them as chewy, but we like to think of them as more than that. In an alternative (and better) reality, people at Barry’s Bootcamp wouldn’t train using those weird massive ropes, they’d pick up this chunky udon instead.
There are certainly spicier bowls of noodle soup here, but the combination of soft and pink braised beef in a tingly broth is a lovely one. The wheat noodles have a good amount of bite and if you’re looking for a warm bowl of comfort on a cold day, then this is an excellent choice.
These were always a dead cert in our Best Chips In London guide. Handmade? Check. Crinkle cut? Check. Deep-fried and then wok-fried in Sichuan chilli oil? Check and check. Completely delicious? Check.
Though these aren’t in the echelons of the best dumplings we’ve had in London, they’re still nice enough. Steamed, soft, and plump from being filled with minced pork and lotus roots, they won’t amaze, but they won’t be left uneaten.
Gong-bao chicken is probably one of Sichuan cuisines most well-known dishes in the West, and this version is one of the best we’ve ever had. Fiery from Sichuan peppercorns, tart from Chinkiang vinegar, and with a shiny sweet sheen, it’s a delicious and enormous bowl of food.
These deep-fried pork loin strips with a Sichuan pepper seasoning on the side is blink and you’ll miss it food. Crisp, tender, and dangerously easy to do the lot singlehanded.