Hot pan-Asian City Lunch Spots

ored of soggy supermarket sandwiches and uninspiring salads for lunch in the office? Why not take the chance to get out of the office with your workmates and stretch your legs to seek out something wholly more inspiring in your lunch hour with the help of this short guide to some East Asian favourites for worker bees.

EC1 Noodle Express – 6-7 Albemarle Way, Clerkenwell, London, EC1V 4JB

A place for when you’re having one of those days at work and need the comfort of some Cantonese style Chinese food to lift your spirits. You can get all the take away classics here but if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous the ho fun (fried flat rice noodles) come in a very tasty soy-based sauce with your choice of meat or tofu and veg. The noodle soups are also pleasing both in terms and flavour and size made with delicious stocks and more noodles than you can probably handle! Try the laksa, which is just the right level of spice and full of the flavours of Malaysia.

Zou – Leather Lane, Clerkenwell Road end

A newcomer to Leather Lane this year, if you haven’t had the chance to try the food at Zou’s now’s the time. A small menu of “Japanese” sandwiches have feature tender meat coated in panko and fried to perfection all served up in a toasted bun with shredded cabbage and tangy dressing for the princely sum of only £4. Possibly even more delicious, Zou serve up Okonomiyaki (Japanese style pancake) with a range of meat and vegetarian fillings all topped with Japanese mayo and special okonomiyaki sauce. If you’ve already tried okonomiyaki you’re surely already salivating, if not it’s a must eat.

Café VN – 144 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1R 5DP 0207 278 4123

Describing themselves as a ‘mean, green, pho making machine’ Café VN specialises in pho and Vietnamese noodle salads. Your choice of meat, fish or tofu is added to a richly flavoured stock along with rice noodles and bean sprouts to create a seriously delicious and healthy lunch. Go spicy at your peril if you’re wearing white as a liberal dose of amber chilli oil is likely to ensure splash marks on your best shirt! As for the salads, the pork in particular is marinated and spiced to perfection, and the dressing is almost indescribably tasty – sweet, salty and tangy – you could almost drink it.

Hare and Tortoise – 90 New Bridge Street, London EC4V 6JJ, 020 7651 0266

A perennial pan-Asian favourite, the Hare and Tortoise is a crowd pleasure whatever time of day it is. It does reasonably priced Japanese style food particularly well with a wide range of delicious sushi options. Another sure-fire winner for lunch are their donburi dishes (rice bowl dishes). If you fancy something healthy try the chirashi don which gives you a taste of the fine sashimi on offer here, all on a bed of lovely fluffy rice. The unagi-don also comes highly recommended; a good sized portion of eel made sweet, salty and sticky with a soy-based marinade makes for a very satisfying lunch indeed.

by Hannah Ross


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