Mama Lan supper club began in honour of Mamalan founder Ning Ma's mother, who taught her to cook as a child. Her grandparents ran a food stall in Beijing after the Cultural Revolution, and Ma's restaurant recreates the street food classics of her childhood.
Four locations are already serving up the same food in Dalston, Clapham, Brixton and East Village, so Shoreditch is hardly a surprise. Like their existing restaurants, the new incarnation of Mamalan will be an intimate affair, with only 24 covers.
Most obvious as you walk in are large, glamorous light fittings, like hanging bird cages. They offset an otherwise very simple looking eatery, bathed in white and with minimal fuss. Ning Ma tells us they'd worried the space wouldn't be big enough, but having stripped off the shelves around the fringes (the location used to be a fussy delicatessen) they were pleasantly surprised.
The food is precision engineered, from family recipes, over time. Best are the Beijing dumplings, in unusual flavour pairings (king prawn and Chinese water chestnut, pork and Chinese leaf) which make for talking points. The rest is more predictable, but definitely all improvements on other big Asian chains with less personal will to please.
The location and bustling intimacy of the room mean it's best for Londoners on-the-run, who'll choose the practical option: big, winter-friendly noodle soup bowls, which are pleasing pre-cursors for the alcohol-soaked bars nearby.
One thing: if you do have more time, tell your waiter you aren't in a rush. The food arrives when it's ready, but an element more care could be taken to observe eaters. Our noodles were out like a flash, before we'd begun on the shareables.
To find out about more soft openings – where you can eat a great meal with a great discount, click here.
|What||Mamalan Shoreditch review|
|Where||Mamalan, Unit 9, Ground floor, 6 Richmix Square, Shoreditch, E1 6LD | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Old Street (underground)|
13 Oct 16 – 13 Oct 17, 12pm - 3:30pm; 6pm - 10pm (times to be confirmed)
|Price||£30 for two people|
|Website||Click here for more information|