The older you get the more you realise that thinking is tiring and should generally be avoided at all costs. There’s only so much thinking a person can do. What to wear. What emoji to use. What excuse to give when it’s 8:52am and you’re horizontal in a damp towel. Frankly, it’s exhausting. Every so often a restaurant comes along that helps you think less. A restaurant with tasty food, an abundance of space, and the ability to work in multiple situations. Chang’s Noodle in Bloomsbury is one of those restaurants.
You wouldn’t think that Chang’s is about to make your life easier from the cash-only sign in the door, but after seeing the cashpoint next to it, you soon will. This is a restaurant that works for so many types of people, in so many different ways, for lunch and dinner every day of the week. And the more you come here, the more you’ll realise this.
The first type of person you’ll likely see is The Solo Slurper In The Corner: their phone propped up on a jar of chilli oil and their bowl of lamb noodle soup in front of them. Type two is The Big Group Meal: Chang’s has the layout and capacity of a hotel dining room, and there’s always a few large tables with all manner of hand-pulled noodles on them. Type three is The Dream Relationship: a couple up front by the windows sharing a pile of fried squid while looking longingly at another table’s dumplings and, occasionally, at each other.
It’s hard to say what our favourite thing about Chang’s is because it’s rarely limited to the food. Or the service. Or the fact there’s always space and we always want noodles. It might be that we were once dissuaded from ordering more than their first-rate sweet and sour pork for a hangry midweek solo dinner, and left all the more content thanks to this advice. Or it might be that we’ve wandered in en masse to share a load of noodles, and had them instantly cut up with scissors when served, for ease of sharing. In an alternate universe Edward Scissorhands would have been so loved and appreciated here.
Before we go overboard, it’s worth nothing that these aren’t the best noodles we’ve had in London. In fact every time we’ve been to Chang’s every person around the table has liked something different best, so you’ll probably have to do a little bit of thinking, especially if you’re alone. With that said, the shan xi yo po noodles and the lamb chow mian are definitely two orders that find their way into our thoughts on most days, and we don’t really mind having to think about those, because Chang’s will do the rest.
A bowl of fat, wide, and slippery noodles in a chilli oil that’s heavy on star anise and Sichuan pepper. It feels like Electric Six are playing Danger! High Voltage live from your mouth, and it’s great.
You know how some people have their own perfumes? Like, they whittle down their scent to two or three specific ones. We have that with noodles, and these ones have just joined the club. It’s a big bowl of wide and chewy hand-pulled noodles with beef, bok choy, in a salty and spicy sauce. Definitely order these.
The kind of dish that everyone eyes up at the end of a meal, even though they say they’re stuffed, before surreptitiously and efficiently finishing the job. Incredibly moreish.
Those wide chewy noodles but this time in a milky, lamb broth. This is more subtle in flavour than some of the other dishes.
In terms of flavour these noodles are probably the tamest of the bunch. The gravy is sticky and sweet, and this will suit you if spice isn’t your thing.
Barbecued and charred but still pink, these lamb skewers are covered in a cumin and chilli dry rub that’s very tasty.
Anyone who doesn’t agree with ordering sweet and sour pork isn’t our friend. Especially at Chang’s, because this is one of the best we’ve ever had. Rather than pork fillet, this is loin, and it’s excellent.
Many of the world’s most majestic sights are towering mountains, and this pile of crispy fried squid with chilli and Sichuan peppercorns is no different.
A wibbly-wobbly pile of delicious pork surrounded by broccoli. This is very tasty.