The phrase “hidden gem” gets bandied around quite frequently, but it is an idiom that quite literally befits Tang restaurant, which specialises in traditional South East Asian cuisine.
Situated near Tottenham Court Road, the venue is so inconspicuous that “Finding Nemo” was a cakewalk in comparison to locating the restaurant. However, when you finally do discover Tang, you will be immersed with a feeling as joyous as finally being reunited with little Nemo; let’s be honest, who didn’t tear up when that happened?
The venue is bijou in size, accommodating approximately 38 diners. The decor is quirky and fun, paying homage to the street food shacks and noodle huts of the exotic far East, with its rustic wooden benches and stalls, newspaper used as wallpaper and picture frames of a bygone era that provides a sense of nostalgia.
The menu is efficiently simple and accommodating to a majority of dietary requirements, including vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and of course halal. Please note that only one dish is not halal, which is the “Prawn Tang”.
To begin our Asian food odyssey, from the “Small-ish Dishes” segment of the menu we opted for the “Fried Chicken”, which is marinated in black bean soy milk and coated in batter. The chicken was moist and succulent, with a light and crispy batter, but minimal seasoning. While the chicken was texturally sublime, it was the hot sauce that was sensational. The scotch bonnet chilli initially delivered a sumptuous sweet taste, which was followed surreptitiously by the sensuous caress of heat that ignited an inferno in my mouth that was electrifyingly delicious. – Recommended
“Black and White” was black soy bean tofu, served with white miso sauce, garnished with spring onions and sesame seeds. The tofu had a delectable crispy batter and was light and soft in the centre, but had no prominent taste. However, the miso sauce was tangy and salty, with a touch of heat that brought pleasure to the palate. – Worth a Try
From the “Buns” section we ordered the “Braised Beef” with cucumber slices, coriander garnish and a black vinegar reduction. The gluten-free bun was light, soft and mildly sweet; a joy to devour. The beef was magnificent in texture, dissolving effortlessly with each bite, thanks to it being tenderised over three days. The vinegar reduction was light and gleefully tasted like BBQ sauce. For my palate, I would have preferred the vinegar reduction to be bolder and possibly provide a kick of heat, nonetheless, an accomplished dish. – Recommended
For mains from the “Bigg-ish Dishes” section, we chose the new addition to their menu, the “Chicken Curry Tang”, containing glass noodles, semi-boiled egg and fried chicken, which were all infused in a vegan curry broth. The curried broth was scintillating good, with a hint of heat and zesty sour lime that delivered recognisable Malaysian flavours. For my palate, I would have preferred the curry broth to be a bit more intense, however, it is extremely difficult to create a plate of food that appeases all tastes. Nonetheless, overall the different components of the dish were all well-balanced and provided a wholesome and salubrious dining experience. – Highly Recommended
Final dish was the “Beef and Rice”, which consisted of beef short ribs and tendons, bok choi, jasmine rice and black vinegar reduction. This was a superlative dish. There were three types of rice used to provide an aromatic, fluffy and sticky texture that conjugated perfectly with the succulent, moist and tender pieces of beef. The vinegar reduction provided a light sweet taste, which was juxtaposed delightfully with the charred and smokey flavour of the caramelised shallots. An unpretentious looking bowl of food that delivered great satisfaction. – Highly Recommended
To end our meal, we were presented with “Sugarcane Shiso Sorbet”, composed of sugarcane juice and Japanese shiso leaves. The taste was earthy and grassy, and a bit too unusual for me. Nonetheless, the sorbet is designed to be a palate cleanser, which it surprisingly achieved. – Worth a Try
To satisfy everyone’s divergent taste is no easy feat to accomplish, but owner Chef Chen has created a menu that does offer a little something for everyone. The crafting of the menu and the execution of the dishes strive to deliver balanced flavours, which we believe Chef Chen achieves.
So if you want an authentic oriental experience, then Tang London Noodle Bar is a great choice, and when we say authentic, we do truly mean authentic, as the only cutlery on offer is chopsticks. So what better place to start practicing than at Tangs.
*Disclaimer: We were invited to review the restaurant.