Sitting amongst the branded cafés and restaurant chains, under a Chinese banner on Covent Garden's busy Cranbourne Street, you'll find Lanzhou Noodle Bar. 

Ignore the luminous sauces and overly-sweet Cantonese options in the window. Skip most of the menu until you get to the section people in the know come for - nourishing Chinese soul food in the form of hand-pulled noodles. You can watch the theatre of these being made on site - dough being stretched, whirled about, rested, folded and re-folded.

roast duck la mian at Lanzhou Noodle Bar

roast duck la mian at Lanzhou Noodle Bar

There are two varieties: la mian, thin and hand-pulled that look like fat spaghetti, or dao xiao mian, shaved from a log of dough straight into steaming stock. You can get your noodles in a soup, dry, or fried. 

I chose the roast duck la mian that came recommended by a friend. I'm not sure I've ever had a bowl full of so much flavour, for so cheap. Even if I were ill, I would crawl out of bed and make the trip to warm up my insides with this aromatic dish. 

Every mouthful is seasoned with purpose. Be warned, you’re getting duck, bones and all. But delicious, succulent and soft, with the option of chilli, fried in oil to bring out the flavour.

The atmosphere is as vibrant as the food. Primary colours coat the walls, a busy takeaway station runs up front, whilst squashed in the back on stripped-back polished wooden tables are those pigging out at the noodle bar. 

Cheap, fast, communal seating, open until the wee hours, and entirely satisfying. Note - cash only.

Words and photography | Bisi Bajomo

Update 13/12/2017 - It looks like this dish has increased to £8.10. As it's just a fraction over our budget, we'll keep it on here for now and hope it doesn't rise any further!


33 Cranbourne Street WC2H 7AD

Opening hours
Mon - Thurs | 10am - 2am
Fri - Sat | 10am - 5am
Sun | 10am - 11pm

Tel | +44 (0) 20 7836 4399

Las updated | 13th Dec 2017