For some people it could be a huge plate of cheesy pasta, for a certain someone it’s most likely to be a hearty beef stew, but for me it’s definitely a bowl of piping hot noodles. That, ladies and gentlemen, is my ultimate comfort food. I’m not fussy about which ones, I’ll happily wolf down thick egg noodles in a mee goreng or slurp up slippery rice noodles in a broth, it’s all the same goodness to me. Noodles are what I crave when I’m feeling a little meh or when my tummy just needs a warm food hug. You know that feeling don’t you?
The grey London skies and chilly temperatures of the last couple of months have definitely increased the meh days, and on a particularly miserable Saturday evening we found ourselves in dire need of noodle nourishment. Too lazy to throw something together but equally too lazy to venture anywhere further than a fifteen minute tube ride, we settled on a quick trip to Brixton… there’s that Thai place in Brixton Market our friends love and we’ve been meaning to try Mama Lan for a while, or we could also head over to Pop Brixton for a nosey, and if all that came to nothing, there was always Nanban to fall back on.
We’d been once before, shortly after it opened, and really enjoyed our meal – the electric eel was pleasantly sharp on the tastebuds, our gamble on the tripe paid off, and both ramen choices were stellar, though I have to admit a certain someone’s miyazaki just pipped my kumamoto on flavour oomph! Definitely a place we mentally noted as worthy of a revisit, so yes, we were rather smug about having such a decent fall back option.
With every intention of following through with our original plan, we headed to Brixton Market… loads of lovely smells coming from all the restaurants but we found ourselves only halfhearted considering the menu options so we moved onto Pop Brixton for a beer and wander through the stalls there… again, all looked and smelled delicious but nothing was grabbing us. Probably because we were still thinking about ramen. More specifically, the ramen from Nanban.
Who were we kidding, we were craving it all along so hot footed it off to Cold Harbour Lane and got there just in time to nab two seats downstairs before we heard people being told there was a bit of a wait for tables. We wasted no time in ordering our drinks, a bottle of the Brew by Numbers, a Nanban collaboration, and a glass of wine, before noticing a few new, very tempting, ramen on the menu since our last visit.
But first, a couple of the ackee and saltfish korokke and the mackerel kaka-ae to start, one of which was a lot better than the other. In fact, the korokke was quite forgettable, nothing but hot potato, whereas the tangy mackerel with its light miso flavours and contrast of textures is a something I would definitely order again.
Then finally, it was time for that noodle nourishment; a certain someone ordered the venison tan tan men and I, after a lot of tossing up between the much lauded curry goat tsukemen and ‘the leopard’ tsukemen, went for the latter. The noodles themselves have great bite, the broths for both were flavoursome and so rich they’re opaque and almost creamy – this is the kind of stomach and soul warming food I am talking about.
While a certain someone immediately started slurping up his fragrant tan tan men, I pondered briefly the tsukemen etiquette; was I supposed to put the noodles into the broth or pour the broth over the noodles… in the end I decided this wasn’t the time to worry about such matters, I could google it later. I tipped my noodles into the broth, had a quick taste, decided a bit more heat would be nice so sloshed in some of the West Indian hot sauce, a pleasant reminder that we were still in Brixton, and spent the next few minutes trying to catch up with a certain someone. Which of course is fairly impossible considering the break neck speed at which he eats, but when the food is this good, I can put in a valiant effort.
When every last bit of noodle, broth and all the tasty little accompaniments were gone, we were stuffed to the brink and feeling much better about this miserable weather and grey old skies. This is not really a spot to linger in for another drink, especially when you’re perched on one of their little stools, so we paid up and freed up our seats for two more punters in need of noodle nourishment!
So tell me, what’s your ultimate comfort food?! Are you a noodle lover like me?