I was in Soho this past Saturday and thought I’d combine lunch with my excursion. I headed straight for Olly Olson, a Scandinavian hot dog shop that I’d been meaning to try for a while. Unfortunately, I’ll never get that chance seeing that the shop has already closed down. Slightly annoyed, I then made my way to the Beach Burrito Cafe, hoping to try a little Tex-Mex food. Oh dear…that shop was boarded up. By this time, I was extremely frustrated and just decided to visit a tried-and-tested place for their noodles.

Jen Cafe sits on a prominent corner on Newport Place in Chinatown. You know where that little pagoda like structure sits? It’s right by it…with a big green sign. You’ve probably seen the woman working furiously, folding dumpling after dumpling, in the window. There are large bowls of various fillings, both pork and vegetables, laid around her, as well as lumps of dough and snowdrifts of flour everywhere. The ever popular dumplings, which can be ordered boiled or fried, are made a little in advance (though we’re talking minutes rather than hours) in anticipation of the demand. If you order the handmade noodles, like I did, she’ll take a lump of dough and roll and cut them, ready to be boiled, right there and then. Likewise, ordering a bowl of wonton soup, as my neighbour did, results in a small lump of dough being rolled out extra, extra thinly and the wontons filled and formed immediately. These are not the usual yellow wonton skins made with egg, but just made with a dough of water and flour.

Spicy Pork Noodles

Drinks seem to be another of their specialties. I had a lovely cold lemon tea but their bubble teas appear to be more popular. They also offer sandwiches as well as other rice dishes and non-handmade noodle soups – the menu is what I’d expect from a Hong Kong style cafe. I ordered a spicy pork noodles, which turned out to be handmade noodles with a salty pork mixture on top. There were some chilies in there but nothing to take your head off. Eating the pork mixture by itself is not advised as it’s quite salty but mixing it with the bland noodles and julienned cucumber makes it all quite tasty. I think I still prefer their dumplings though.

Jen Cafe
4-8 Newport Place
London

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