Considering how much I love eating, I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I only discovered Brixton Village for myself when The Boyfriend packed his things and moved to the end of the Victoria line a couple of weeks ago (just in case you’re thinking this is a sad story, his move didn’t spell the end of our relationship as we’re not quite at the ‘moving in together’ stage yet). Now I’ve been, it’s safe to say I’m hooked as you’d be hard pushed to find somewhere in London that is more exciting and atmospheric due to its eclectic mix of pop-up restaurants, vibrant live music and sometimes strange dramatic performances.
I intend to write many posts about Brixton Village, but as it’s Chinese New Year, I’ll celebrate the Year of the Dragon by dedicating my first to Mama Lan – a tiny Chinese pop-up run by supper club host and blogger Ning Ma, along with her boyfriend, father and mother (who I managed to capture in action on my rubbish camera phone).
The menu is refreshingly simple, divided into Noodle Soup, Beijing Dumplings, Street Snacks and Salads. As it was a cold night and we’d spent the afternoon lugging the contents of The Boyfriend’s flat up two flights of stairs, we decided to order something from each part of the menu, starting with Beef Noodle Soup.
The soup had the warming effect we’d hoped for, with its well balanced spicy broth, satisfying helping of fat noodles and chunks of tender, juicy beef, supplied by the good old Ginger Pig. If we weren’t such pigs ourselves, this would have sufficed, but we couldn’t resist a helping of Pork and Chinese Leaf Dumblings, rolled to order in the open kitchen.
It may sound over the top, but the dumplings were probably the best I’ve eaten. Not only was the sweet pork filling addictively good, one side was fried ever so slightly to avoid a casing that’s so often soggy. If that’s not enough, to accompany the meal, we also had a bowl of Seaweed Salad with Toasted Sesame.
As much as I hate to say it, this was by far my least favourite part of the meal as it was unbelievably salty. However, as I enjoyed the other two dishes so much, I will give Mama Lan the benefit of the doubt as perhaps the saltiness is traditional, even if it’s not to my taste.
As we could bring our own wine, our entire meal came to no more than around £12.50 each, which is pretty outstanding given the quality of the food. I’m already looking forward to my next Brixton Village experience, but Mama Lan’s Beijing Dumplings will never be far from my mind.
Mama Lan, Unit 18, Brixton Village, Coldharbour Lane, Brixton SW9 8PS