Mama Lan in Shoreditch
Mama Lan began life as The Mama Lan Supper Club, where owner Ning Ma served up authentic Beijing cuisine in her own home. Six years later, the restaurant is now established in four locations, with the fifth opening its doors this month in Shoreditch.
Moments from Shoreditch High Street station, Mama Lan is well located, if a little difficult to find at first. The small restaurant is tucked away in the corner of one of the many generic new-build apartment blocks in East London. Once inside, however, guests will find a remedy to the soullessness of the exterior; the space has plenty of character, with a stylish yet homely feel.
After taking our seats we begin the task of choosing our cocktails. I go for the Beijing Blues, Mama Lan’s take on a spritz, with gin, sake, blue curacao, lavender bitters, ginger and fresh lemon. This was refreshing, although it seemed to veer slightly to the watery side once the ice cubes began to melt. We also had a Bull in a China Shop – a long cocktail with bourbon, rose syrup, lemon and jasmine tea – one of the favourites from the concise but distinct cocktail menu.
A plate of dumplings is the first dish to arrive, with three different fillings: vegetable, pork and beef. All are delicious, having been steamed and lightly fried, leaving one side of the casing perfectly crispy and one side velvety soft.
The small bowl of seaweed is a delightfully simple snack, squidgy with a slight crunch, and is a great accompaniment for the spicy chicken wings, which were a particular favourite. Encased in a layer of seasoning, the wings pack the punch of something that’s just the right amount of spicy.
The pulled pork buns were another highlight; we were told as they arrived that the pork had been seven hours in the making, slowly cooked to achieve that melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. Two more buns arrived, this time with tofu. While these will make a great substitute for any vegetarian diners, the pulled pork was a hard act to follow, so if there’s only room for one pair of buns, make sure it’s the former.
Mama Lan offers generous portions of authentic Beijing cuisine to enjoy in a casual yet stylish setting. Diners can sit on the high seats by the window, watching people on their dash for the train and wonder how long it will be until they catch onto this place as the perfect spot for a quick and fresh after-work dinner.
Photos: Silvia Sternardi
(except featured by Claire Menary)
To book a table at Mamalan, Unit 9 6 Richmix Square Shoreditch London E1 6LD visit here.