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Chang’s Noodle – Abysmal service, questionable cleanliness but oh, those noodles!

Chang’s Noodle is centrally located right around the corner from the British Museum (& halfway between Holborn & Tottenham Court Road tube stations).  Don’t expect much from the interior –  it’s very basic and unexciting, and more like an upscale cafe than a restaurant. Having said that, this is not the type of place you come to for an ambient meal, it’s all about the authentic hand pulled Chinese noodles they serve up.

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After being seated promptly after entering, service went downhill very fast. Our Diet Cokes failed to arrive – being the warm day that it was, i was desperate to quench my thirst, which only served to heighten my irritation at the waiting staff that much more.  After unsuccessfully trying to attract the attention of the 3 members of staff for a good 10 mins, we resorted to having to go upto the bar counter ourselves and request our drinks.  N.B. No apologies were forthcoming from the waiters.

The sole reason for our visit to Chang’s was to sample their well regarded noodles, so we didn’t really give much attention to the rest of the menu.  Nevertheless, it was vast and had quite a few interesting things on offer –  although from what we could see, the noodle soup was what a lot of other diners were ordering.

Steamed Pork and Chive Dumplings

Steamed Pork and Chive Dumplings

Our generous portion of dumplings was very enjoyable – they surprised me by containing a tiny burst of fragrant soup inside and very much reminded me of my beloved Xiao Long Bao (albeit with a less delicate pastry casing).  So we sat there happily tucking into the little morsels until …. we picked one up and found a hair lying underneath it on the plate.  YUCK. This was extremely off putting as you can imagine, & the attitude of the waitress when we showed it to her was poor – although you could tell she was apologetic, she stared at us blankly not really knowing what to say. When we asked to speak to the manager we were told there was no manager around – somehow a little hard to believe.

In the end they removed the plate from the table at our request, cancelled the dish from the bill, and voluntarily took 10% off our final bill. Although this still failed to make up for the exceptionally poor reaction from the waiting staff.  Not to mention my disappointment at the whole incident considering i was really enjoying tucking into the dumplings! :(

Thankfully, the Shan Xi Yo Po noodles saved the day (& we were already halfway through this dish when the dumpling episode occurred) – a big bowl of flat, wide noodles with slices of beef brisket.  Priced at just £6.50, it’s great value for money.  The texture of the noodles was wonderful, so different to any others we’ve had in London & akin to pappardelle pasta cooked al dente, chewy yet soft. From the picture above, the dish looks kind of dry, but at the bottom of the bowl is a really nicely flavoured sauce, and it’s not too salty as can often happen in Chinese restaurants.  Once the contents of the bowl are mixed around, the sauce coats the noodles perfectly and it’s really yummy.  So, i’ve decided that despite the grim dumpling incident, i shall be returning to Chang’s for their Shan Xi Yo Po noodles for sure.

Dips Bites: Despite the questionable cleanliness and useless service, i have to give Chang’s credit for their hand-pulled noodles.  The Shan Xi Yo Po noodle dish makes for a perfect lunch or a quick dinner. It’s rare to find authentic Chinese noodles in London and this is certainly what gives Chang’s an edge, and the menu overall is a nice change from the British-Cantonese Chinese fare you’ll find in most of Chinatown.  P.S. The restaurant was packed with Chinese diners … normally a good sign.

36-38 New Oxford Street, WC1A 1EP (CASH ONLY)

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