★★★★ | Tang, London
There’s a hidden gem of a restaurant right next to the Central YMCA near Tottenham Court Road – it’s called Tang.
And hidden is the key word. You could walk right passed it if you weren’t looking for it. Nestled right between the YMCA and VQ Diner, Tang is identified by its name on the wooden door and its menu to the left, and it’s named on the overhang. And do me a favour, and don’t walk by, go into this tiny venue (maximum capacity is 38) and you will step into a place that does not feel like you’re in London. Welcomed by the friendly staff, the restaurant contains Chinese-style newspaper wallpaper, a cosy space, an open kitchen, and tiny photos that line one of the walls. Its unique feel is akin to being in a restaurant anywhere in Asia, yet it’s the food that make’s it worth walking in.
Southern Asian specialities (Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore) are included in the menu that’s very small yet bursting with lots of appealing courses. We had two starters – the Fried Chicken (£5) and the Black and White – tofu (£4.50). The Fried Chicken (marinated in black bean soy milk and coated in batter) was nine generous-sized pieces which came with a three chilli hot sauce. While we almost all but ignored the hot sauce, the chicken was scrumptious and moist. The ten pieces of tofu were light and soft, and an unusual dish you can’t quite find anywhere else. It was served with white miso sauce that was perfect for dipping both the chicken and the tofu, and both very good value.
We were both pleasantly surprised at our dinner choices. My dining companion had the massive Chicken Tang (a soup in a roast chicken broth with bean sprouts, egg, bok choi, spring onion, and garlic chips) and it was absolutely superb! Flavours that went very well together and was a beautiful-looking dish. She was in heaven with its rich substance – and it’s healthy food as well! (A veggie option of crispy tofu is on offer as well) I wanted something with meat and was glad I ordered the Beef and Rice. Braised beef and tendons served with coriander and jasmine rice was gorgeous, with its bok choi and crispy noodles included. It’s packed with flavour and highly recommended, though it didn’t quite fill me up so I would suggest a wallop more of rice be added to the dish. Both dishes cost £9 each – a great deal.
There was one choice for dessert and it was the only choice you’d ever want. The Sugarcane Shiso Sorbet was out of this world! It was sugarcane (purchased in Brixton) with shiso leaves (tasting like mint) to give an absolutely refreshing ending to your meal – it was perhaps the best sorbet I’ve ever had.
Tang also has a wide selection of perfect drinks to go with your meal, from local beer (London Beer Factory) to soft drinks (from the Karma Cola Company) to the very good juices (Owlet Fruit Juice). I had the delicious pear and ginger fruit juice – apple and elderflower was another option. The drinks on their menu you will more than likely not find anywhere else – they’re that unique!
As I live close to the restaurant, I plan to return and try some of their buns (fried chicken, braised beef or crispy tofu), all at the ideal price of £4.50 or less. And the broccoli salad (£4.50) looks like an ideal small dish to look forward to.
Tang is an absolutely affordable restaurant where two can easily dine for as little as £32. The staff are warm and friendly, and Canadian Jamie will answer any questions you will have about the menu. As it’s an open kitchen any questions you might have the cooks are right in front of you! It’s an intimate noodle bar that’s warm and welcoming – I can’t wait to go back!
Tel: +44 (0) 207 300 3324
Address: 111 Great Russell Street
London, WC1B 3NQ
Tues – Fri: Midday -3pm & 5pm – 10pm
Saturday: Midday – 3pm & 5pm – 10pm
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.