Thursday, January 8, 2009

Lo's Noodle Factory - Fresh noodles in London

Lo+Noodle+Factory+Leicester+Square+fresh+Hor+funHave you ever wondered where the multitude of restaurants in Leicester Square get their supplies of hor fun (flat rice noodles), cheong fun (rice noodle rolls), lor pok gau (carrot cake) and wu tau gou (yam cake) from? Certainly from some factory located in London suburbs or even outside London. Then again, it wouldn't be fresh would it?

In fact, the supplier for all the restaurants is actually found within Leicester Square itself. Following the directions provided by a colleague, who was really reluctant to divulge one of the best kept secrets of the restaurants in Chinatown, I found Lo's Noodle Factory at 6 Dansey Place.

For the uninitiated, Dansey Place is a dark dingy alleyway that runs parallel to Gerrad Street. It looks exactly like one of those narrow streets that people would go all out to avoid - unless they are desperate for some fresh ingredients for their culinery attempts.

It's not too bad when you finally pluck up the courage and venture into what looks suspiciously like a slaughter house masquerading as a noodle factory. Staffed by just two Chinese men in their 40s and 50s, you'll be greeted with a friendly "Yes? What do you want?" in Cantonese if you look remotely like a Chinese. Rest assured that they are comfortable with Mandarin and English as well.
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Beat the recession - How to survive on £1 per day
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A pack of hor fun goes for £1 (enough for 4), cheong fun will cost you £1.5 (enough for 3-4) and a pack of wu tau goa sells for £3.50 (enough for 4). It's opened till 7pm every weekday and it was still operating at 4pm when I was there on a Sat.

That's about the freshest ingredients that you'll ever get, at least in Central London. In fact, when I was there, a chef (with the chef's uniform and all) from a local Chinese restaurant was behind me in the queue. His purchase? 5 packs of chee cheong fun.

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12 comments:

tim_g said...

are you sure you mean vermicelli? vermicelli are those angel hair noodles.

C K said...

@tim_g,
Thanks for the correction. I'm not sure what's the correct name should be. Should it be just 'noodles' then?

Eaststopper said...

You have found gold!!
I absolutely missed Hor Fan when I was in London.

By the way,
Happy 2009!

Dutchie said...

Wished I could get my hands on some ! Hv u any idea how hor fun gets a light brown color with a smokey flavour ? I hv not had that in ages !

What do u call the cheong fun with delish fillings ?

There r shops in Amsterdam where good Cantonese food could be found. It's kinda like a back alley where dark skinned guys hang round, obviously pushing narcotics. The best way to clean up the sleaze is to revamp the place, give it a fresh inviting outlook. Shady characters don't like places that looked too clean, if u know what I mean.

I also find it a shame that those men in Dansey had to work in such an environment. By the sound of it, they worked long hours. The council should do more to spruce up the alley n make it a cozy place to stroll instead. Japan has lots of small streets n they r mostly very well-kept.

EastCoastLife said...

Is this shop legal and comply to hygiene rules?

It's hard to imagine not having my hor fun and cheong fun as and when I like it. :P

Martin in Bulgaria said...

A 'Noodles Factory' just sounds very funny to me and conjures up lots of silly scenarios. Sounds like a title for a hilarious book or comedy film.

I'm still giggling now! Glad you foudn the source of noodles, which is also a good source of humour. Hang on source (sauce) and noodles go very well together.... lol

C K said...

@Eaststopper,
Happy New Year to you too! Glad to hear from you again.

There are a couple of eateries that opened up after you left. That helps to stave off the homesickness quite a bit. :)


@Dutchie,
Hah, the smokey flavour is most sought after when it comes to hor fun. I've tried but it ended up being mushy instead. I suspect you will need a real fire for that, definitely not one of those induction stove.

Delish fillings? Are you referring to "char siew" (roast pork) or prawn fillings? Is there even a special name for those? Hmm, not too sure about that myself.

That's the irony isn't it? The food at restaurants with a 'clean' outlook normally doesn't taste as good. I mean, after S'pore's Chinatown was revamped, it's just not the same without the street hawkers that used to set up stalls by the open drains.


@ECL,
Eh, the interior looks much better. But I must add that the food establishments over here in London are generally of a certain standard.

And yes, don't take your hor fun and cheong fun for granted... :p


@Martin,
Haha, really? Now I'm really interested in the 'silly scenarios' that come into your mind. Well, at least, the post did provide you with that bit of entertainment. :)

Btw, do you know that the better noodles actually require the sauce/gravy to be prepared separately?

kyh said...

I love all these rice noodles! But the boric acid used in the manufacturing process kinda scare me. That said, when I feel like having them, these worries are being dumped 100km behind!

yoongz said...

hmm... i liked that article in Sept about surviving on 1 a day - very good :D
Now u get me wondering about the chinese restaurants here - thot i must say the standard is nowhere near good except for a few in Zurich & u pay thru your teeth.

C K said...

@kyh,
Well, anything that tastes remotely good couldn't be healthy, can it? Eat first and worry later. Cheers!

@yoongz,
I've lost count of the number of fried rice lunches I have since then. Oh well.

I would imagine that the Chinese food over in Zurich is considered as exotic cuisine, no? I heard that the Chinese food over at Vancouver is superb due to the large number of Hong Kongers who settled there.

Btw, how much would a Chinese meal cost over at Zurich? Just curious...

Su-Lin said...

I always make a stop here when I'm in Chinatown! I love their baos and hor fun and sometimes I buy their lo bak goh and fry up some of what I call "cheat's chai tow kway"!

Do you know where I can find proper chai tow kway in London?

C K said...

@Su-Lin,
I'm looking for an eatery that serves chai tow kway as well. Like you, I got some carrot cake to make my own at home.

It tasted nothing like those at home. Do me a favor will you? Let me know if you find one. :)