Mamalan Brixton is a Chinese – specifically from Beijing – restaurant started by chef Ning Ma and her mother. The menu is short and to the point, focusing on noodle soups, dumplings and street snacks, all inspired by the recipes used in a Beijing street market stall ran by Ning Ma’s mother and grandfather many years ago. All the vegetarian options here are also vegan, which means there’s a lot for everyone to choose from.
Mamalan is located in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Brixton Village market with a handful of tables inside the small restaurant and quite a few more “outside” in the market hall. There’s also another branch in nearby Clapham, just next to Clapham Common tube station!
We went to Mamalan for lunch last Sunday when I turned into the most basic person ever and started craving a spicy broth as soon as the weather turned slightly grey and rainy… As I’d been meaning to try this place out for ages, this felt like as good a day as any – and anyway, who could resist a yummy spicy broth on a gloomy day?!
The decor is very simple inside and out, with a few colourful touches (who can resist that turquoise wall?!) and a beautiful exposed brick wall on the inside of the restaurant. It’s a no frills place which fits the market atmosphere perfectly, and let’s what’s important speak for itself: the food and the service. We had a lovely waitress who was very friendly and just the right amount of attentive – our food came really quickly too (but not too quickly – there was no doubt that it wasn’t made from the freshest of ingredients!).
On their website, Mamalan prides themselves on having a low employee turnover and they seem to really appreciate and value their employees. These are exactly the kind of places that I love to support!
I went for the Tofu Dong Gu Mushroom Tang Mein (a mouthful, I know…) which is a spicy noodle soup with mushrooms (obviously), fried tofu, coriander (though I opted out of this), pak choi & homemade chilli oil. And, of course, the noodles!
It was just what I needed and the broth especially was a-ma-zing. It’s a big portion so unfortunately, I couldn’t finish it all which made me sad, but I did manage to slurp every last bit of that broth – I wouldn’t have left it behind! All in all, it was the perfect comfort dish for a rainy day.
Jim went for the Miso Tofu Stew with Rice which was basically a rice stirfry with crispy tofu and veggies (garlic, onion, peas, broccoli) seasoned with a miso and soy sauce. I tried a tiny and bit and thought it was good, but felt like it would have benefited from a slight kick spice wise!
I asked Jim what he thought of the dish, and he said that the veggies were lovely and crunchy, the sauce was really tasty and the rice was nice and sticky which made it easier for him to pick up with chopsticks (which neither of us are very good at…). So, overall, not too bad at all!
Overall I would definitely recommend visiting Mamalan, and not just on a rainy day – this place deserves diners every day of the week! Plus, they also serve a spicy salad with tofu (or chicken if you’re not a veggie) for those heatwave days when you might not be feeling a big soup!
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