First up, Kanada-Ya (opening pic). A Japanese import, with branches in Hong Kong and the US, I like this little place a lot. At first it was because of the gumption it takes for opening almost directly opposite the behemoths that are Ippudo (I wrote about my New York experience here) and within the same month. They're everything Ippudo are not - they are austere and unfussy, with a limited and traditional menu. They don't have the snazzy sides that Ippudo does, and they offer their noodles cooked soft, medium or firm. What they lack in choice, they more than make up in flavour, though. The broth is rich and flavoursome, but doesn't sit heavily on your stomach making you feel a bit overwhelmed, unlike other tonkotsus I've tried. The noodles have a good spring to them. In short, it's a damn good bowl of noodles. Get there at 12pm though, or you will queue.
64 St Giles High Street, WC2H 8LE
Chang's Noodle is a little place on New Oxford Street. It's so basic I can't find a website for them. The cuisine is Hubei, Henan and Sichuan, and the menu is littered with items like 'tasty fungus'. Helpfully there's pictures. I haven't been there to give the menu a thorough working out, but what I did have is their famous lamb noodle soup. This is not Summer food. It's a milky, lamb-flavoured broth with hearty wheat noodles, rough and torn into the soup. Deep within, glass noodles and tofu skin noodles also lurk. I couldn't finish it. But it was so good.
35-37 New Oxford St, London WC1A 1BH
Joy Luck Restaurant are smack bang in the middle of Chinatown. Their menu reads with spring rolls, prawn crackers and all that shit, but skip straight to the specialist noodle page and therein lies the Shanxi Oil-Splash noodle. And they will splash. The sauce is sweet, it's sour, it's spicy. The noodles are slightly frilly at the edges. I love this dish.
47 Gerrard Street, Chinatown, London W1D 5QJ
Lastly, Sanxia Renjia. Say that after a couple of beers. An unassuming front, I'm pretty gutted I discovered this place in my last month at my job that was a mere 5 minute walk. I'd missed out on 6.5 years of this place! The lunch menu is a laminated card of noodle dishes and one-plate rice dishes. On my first visit, we had a scrambled egg and black fungus dish with rice, which was very homely. My dining companion found it bland, but I thought it comforting. We also shared some dumplings which were fine, and this 'Soup noodles with stewed spare ribs Sichuan Style'. As I suspected they were little ribs with bone in them which I think is fine as you pop the thing in your mouth, chew around it and spit it out, but some might find it fiddly. Anyway, the soup was FIESTY. They're not messing. It was Sichuan peppercorn-tingly, and packed quite a punch.
I returned and the 'hot & sour rice noodles' were not rice noodles, they were glass noodles. It was a good job he was wearing black because those things are slithery. This dish was not for the faint-hearted; the incandescent chilli oil slick lingered on top, staining each mouthful. It was great.
Their rice dishes are good too. The sea spicy aubergine in particular is excellent. We're talking about noodles though. Anyway, nothing on the lunch menu tops £7, so it's really great value too.
29 Goodge Street, W1T 2PP