Mama Lan, Clapham

Mama Lan, Clapham

Blink while walking along Clapham High Street and you may well miss Mama Lan, a discreet set-up on The Pavement (on the same side of the road as Little Waitrose, walking towards Old Town).

Mama Lan first set up home in Brixton Village but has expanded, with this cute abode as its second premises.

We went early-ish on a Saturday – about 12:45 – and easily got a seat, but predictably it filled up fast so like with most places where you can’t book ahead, it’s worth nabbing a seat early on, unless you don’t mind a short wait.

Who said you couldn't have a garden in London?

Who said you couldn’t have a garden in London?

The layout is simplistic but cosy; exposed brick walls, wooden flooring and tables, but with cute touches – note the plants above the main lighting platform at the front of the restaurant.

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Mama Lan serves a pared down menu split into bigger meals with noodles and soup as the base, or smaller, dim sum style snacking (dangerous, if you’re comparing it to visiting somewhere like Ping Pong).

The Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

The Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

We ordered the Spicy Beef Noodle Soup and Spicy Chicken Ban Mein, along with Pork & Chinese Leaf dumplings. Their dumplings are cooked fresh on site so expect a short wait, but to be honest it’s hardly a bother when you’ve got the comfort of knowing they’re not just taken out of the freezer – oh and they taste amazing, too.

The Spicy Chicken Ban Mein

The Spicy Chicken Ban Mein

The mains certainly have a kick to them – we took advantage of the free water on offer – but as you’d expect from Chinese food, it was fresh and vibrant – think lemongrass, fresh chills, peanuts etc.

Pork and Chinese Leaf dumplings

Pork and Chinese Leaf dumplings

In terms of atmosphere, Mama Lan has nailed a chilled ambience. The service is swift but not brisk – we ourselves were in a rush but we got the impression they’d happily let you stay there and munch on dumplings for hours (well, within their opening times, of course). We may just do that one day…

Mama Lan, 8 The Pavement, SW4 0HY and Unit 18, Brixton Village Market, Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8PR.

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Review: Brooks & Gao, Streatham High Road

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Specials board at Brooks & GaoDown the road from Beyrouths (more on this place another time) and next door to The Indigo Tree lies Brooks & Gao, a rustic coffee shop where we visited for lunch and forgot to try out the coffee.

Brooks & Gao

The decor is typically rustic, with exposed brickwork the main feature, and blackboards featuring the specials. Mismatched bottles of tap water are readily available on each table.

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While we can’t comment on the coffee, everything else they had to offer would happily satisfy a hungry belly. It’s not the place for a typical brunch so don’t come here expecting eggs benedict. However they serve a mean doorstop sandwich, whether you like a foccacia or ciabatta with your filling.

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Baguette at Brooks & Gao

We tried the grilled limo pork loin, manchego cheese and piquillo pepper baguette (£5.80) and organic rare breed topside, spinach and aioli on focaccia (£5.20). They heat up your sarnies before serving and the ingredients are lovely and fresh – it’s served crisp but not burnt a la Caffe Nero or Starbucks.

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They also serve generously sized slabs of sweet loaf, along with brownies, tarts and cronuts…the list goes on.

It’s a very family-friendly environment; the majority of customers had small babies but it’s welcome to young couples, too. If you visit anytime soon order the fig and green salad – the customers sat next to us tucked into a large plate of it, complete with mozzarella and balsamic vinegar – food envy!

Just one thing let it down – the peppermint tea was served with a glass tumbler. Call us old fashioned, but what’s wrong with a good tea cup?

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