Tang (n): A strong taste, flavor or smell. Or at least that is what Google tells me when I search for “define: tang”. Vicky has also informed me that Tang is Chinese for Soup.
I found out about Tang when I got a random, unsolicited email from them touting 20% off food until the end of June. It was a bit sketchy, until I realized it’s in the same location where the absolutely horrible Lobster Kitchen was. Somehow, the email list got passed on (I subscribed for 50% off food, okay? And then I kind of forgot to unsubscribe. I mean that’s a thing), and since I’ve become such a fan of ramen (and it looked like ramen in the photo), I decided to take them up on their generous offer and give them a try. I mean, I wasn’t really expecting a lot, but I do love to try new places. I was just hoping that it was going to be worth me not going to my favorite ramen place that’s literally a five minute walk away (well ten minutes if you consider the ridiculous closed sidewalks for the Tottenham Court Road works).
There isn’t a lot of changes from the previous incarnation. The tables are the same, but the walls have been covered with newspapers and photos. It kind of feels like some sort of local southeast Asian noodle bar. The menu isn’t very extensive either, as there are two starters: Fried chicken or tofu, and there are only four different soups. When I see a small menu, I hope that means they’ve spent a lot of time and effort on the dishes and that they are packed full of flavor. Even though it was lunch, I ordered the fried chicken starter and I got the prawn tang soup from the very lovely and friendly woman working behind the counter (I can only assume this is Chen from the website). The soup claimed to consist of a spicy prawn and pork soup, tiger prawns and a six minute egg. (I don’t have to add the egg which is one of my annoyances about many ramen places I’ve been. I mean the egg is pretty much the best part of it.) I wasn’t holding my breath. Most soup places don’t really satisfy my spice itch; I don’t even know why they claim their dish to be spicy. You can order the soup with wheat, rice or glass noodles. I suppose if you’re gluten-free, that is a bonus as I imagine the rice or glass noodles are on the okay-to-eat list. I went with wheat noodles because I want all of the gluten.
The first thing to arrive was the fried chicken. Apparently it’s both dairy-free and gluten-free if that’s your thing. The batter must be made out of either rice flour or corn flour then. I do have to admit, that when it arrived, it looked amazing. There was an appetizing pile of small chicken nuggets with a homemade hot sauce in a bowl next to it. It ate as good as it looked. The chicken was moist and crispy, and the hot sauce wasn’t incredibly spicy, but it had an amazing depth of flavor to it. I was only hoping that the soup would be on par with the chicken.
As soon as the soup was placed in front of me, I was overwhelmed by the amazing scent of the broth. It was light and fragrant, and even though I was slightly stuffy, I could smell it anyway. And it smelled fantastic. I really couldn’t wait to dig in, and when I did everything in the dish felt really fresh. The broth was light and aromatic, and after a few sips, my mouth was on fire. It was actually spicy. Not the spiciest soup I’ve had in London, but far spicier than most things labeled “spicy” usually are. Given the lightness of the broth, it also felt much healthier than eating ramen, as most of the ramen seems tonkotsu based, which really feels heavy when you’re done. It definitely didn’t feel that way with this soup.
Since I was the only one there eating lunch (I mean it has recently opened and it was a Tuesday after a bank holiday), Chen started chatting with me about how long I’ve been in London. She was telling me she’s originally from Singapore, but something keeps bringing her back to London. I think it’s the weather. The heat in Singapore can be a bit unbearable at times apparently. We talked about living in California as she lived there for awhile too (as have I). She wanted to know what I thought of the soup, and if it was too spicy. For me, it was definitely just the perfect amount of spicy. (Well I could probably have handled it being hotter, apparently it was when she opened, but a lot of the feedback was that it’s too spicy. Hey you can’t please everyone.) There’s some homemade chili oil on the side if you need it as well. I didn’t use any, but maybe next time I’ll try a different soup so I can give the chili oil a try. Or try it on the amazing fried chicken. I mean, I’ll definitely be back so there will be many the opportunity to try. If you’re looking for something ramen-like, but not as heavy as ramen, I think you’ll be absolutely pleased with the wonderous food that Chen has created at Tang. And the food definitely stands up to the definition!
–I also recently went back with Vicky and she gives it her seal of approval. We had the Chicken Tang as I was sick and chicken soup is always good. We also split both the appetizers. The chicken soup was absolutely delicious. Lots of depth of flavor, but yet it felt light and refreshing. I even tried some of the home made chili that they have in jars, and I’m in love. Chen also talked with us about how she’s planning on revamping the menu by adding a few new appetizers and trying some new mains as some of them haven’t been so popular. But it’s what you would expect with a new place. I’m really excited to see what she is going to do with it! Oh and here are some photos of my most recent trip:
111 Great Russell St, WC1B 3NQ