Chop Chop Noodle Bar – the local gem
March 17 2017
Growing up in Hong Kong, I was hardly impressed by any Asian restaurants in Western countries because they simply don’t resemble a taste of home (with Canada an exception). Ever since moving to London, I have always stayed clear of China Town as I never had a satisfied meal there and wouldn’t recommend people going there for Chinese food. In a nutshell, if I ever crave for Chinese food, I would put in the effort to do some cooking myself rather than paying the money for food that I know I wouldn’t be happy about.
There’s this one time my parents came from Hong Kong to visit me in London. We were just walking around the neighbourhood and my dad spotted this Chinese restaurant / takeout place right by Shepherds Bush station. Just like me, he’s never satisfied with Asian food around Europe. However, he was really craving for something close to home right at that very moment so we decided to go in and have a try.
As we went in there, we find the setting and vibe really resembles a classic Cha Chaan Teng (i.e. a traditional Hong Kong style canteen). That definitely has left us a good impression as it gave us a feel of home. Not only does the setting and décor reminds us of home, the way they display their menu and ordering sheets also highly resemble those at home. The menu has a fairly wide variety of Chinese and South East Asian foods – ranging from curries, soup noodles, chow meins, fried rice and stir-fries. The menu is presented as a plastic covered poster and each menu item got a number next to them where you simply tick the dish number you would like to order on the ordering sheet. All of this is very common practice within Asia.
I am going to list out a number of my favourite dishes that I’ve tried from multiple visits. Before I start on individual dishes, I must say the portion is huge, especially for a rather cheap price too! The portion is definitely enough for two meals. Not once ever we left without a stuffed belly or a takeout bag to pack up our leftovers.
An all-time favourite dish ought to be their Laksa – not only from us but from lots of other customers too. Their laksas are very aromatic and fragrant. Spicy and topped with generous amount of seafood and vegetables, it really hits straight to your soul. It’s certainly one of the very few places that serve an authentic laksa and I must say I was quite impressed.
As for the Stir Fry Beef in Black Bean Sauce, it was comparatively a let-down after the laksa. The stir fry has more the stereotypical western Chinese takeout flavour. However, even so it was still pretty decent compare to other Chinese takeaway places. Our thoughts on their Beef Curry dish are kind of similar but the curry is definitely more flavourful. Both dishes were served with a large portion of egg fried rice. There is no way you won’t get filled up eating there.
Another all-time favourite from us are the Fried Rice dishes. I personally prefer their Singaporean Fried Rice over the Malaysian one. Again, that spicy paste really makes the flavours pop. A watch-out key for good fried rice is to ensure that the rice doesn’t come out damp and to be able to taste the ‘wok’. The rice is certainly never too damp. Generally, there is this specific flavour generated from a hot wok, i.e. the taste of ‘wok’, which is something we really appreciate. In terms of toppings, it might be slightly disproportionate only because there is an extremely generous portion of rice in it. It was delicious regardless.
For fried noodles, the Singaporean Fried Noodles were on point either in terms of both flavours and texture. As for the Char Kway Teo (technically Malaysian fried noodles), it was very flavourful the first time we tried it. However the other time we had it, it was a bit bland so we can’t really decide whether this is a star dish or not.
If you fancy something lighter, there are a lot of soup noodles options available. You can choose either rice noodles or egg noodles. I have only tried one from the menu – the Roast Duck Noodle Soup. The noodle soup was surprisingly nice and hearty. It was topped off with massive chunks of roast duck which is an absolute delight. The meat was generally quite tender. The only thing missing though is a classic sweet plum sauce to pair with the roast duck.
For small dishes, I would recommend the Salt & Pepper Wings. The wings are perfectly crispy on the outside and incredibly fragrant. The meat was succulent and the garlicky flavours simply filled up your cavity. As for their satays, they may not be the most authentic ones but they certainly delivered beyond my expectations for a small Chinese takeaway restaurant.
To sum it all up, I think this place is undoubtedly one special local gem in the area. Cheap prices, massive portions, alluring flavours and a feel of home – what more can I ask for? If you want a little feel of a buzzing Asian style canteen, this is the place to look out for. I guess home-style Asian food is not dead in western countries after all!