LONDON | Nestled under one of Southwark’s railway arches lies newly opened modern Chinese restaurant Numnum. Following on from a popular pop-up in Brick Lane, this is numnum’s first ever stand alone restaurant.
I had the pleasure to speak to the founder, Tim Hoang who filled us in on the details of each dish, future plans for the restaurant and why he wants to spearhead the modernization of Chinese food. Tim told me that “Unlike Indian food [in the UK], Chinese food has remained stagnant. With numnum, I want to showcase that there’s more than just Cantonese food and that modern Chinese food can be affordable”.
On the menu, a fusion of various Southern Chinese wok dishes features, created by Tim and his Cantonese chefs, using fresh British ingredients to create high quality regional diverse and varied Sichuan Chinese dishes. There’s noodle, rice, and roasted dishes, including signature dishes such as numnum’s Dan Dan Noodles which features sesame paste, peppercorn, and pressed tofu. Other popular dishes are the Wonton Noodle Soup – and eight-hour chicken broth filled with prawn and pork wontons and bok choi, and the Beef Noodle Soup, which features beef shin and Sichuan peppercorn in a dark beef broth.
We started with the soft pan fried pork dumplings which had a fiery, meaty middle – hand made from scratch in a small pool of chilli oil and coriander. The standout dish was the the twice cooked pork belly with a side of sautéed leeks and peppers, the zinging flavours and texture of and richness of the meat was undeniable. Though hesitant on the bone marrow fried rice, the taste was pleasant with an interesting gelatinous texture, normalised by the conventional knock out flavours of the Chinese fried rice.
The Wonton noodle soup was a dream, and it’s easy to see why this aesthetically pleasing riot of flavours is so popular. As Tim explained “When tasting our dishes, we want our guests to feel different tones of flavours in their mouth, almost like explosions. What we don’t want, is flat food!”
Finally numnum’s chicken, which is unlike no other I’ve tried. Numnum’s roasted corn fed chicken is fermented in broad bean paste, succulent, and almost falls off the bone. With a glistening golden honey and spice roasted exterior, it got both the good looks and flavour to back it up.
After devouring the dishes, it was clear that numnum wasn’t one to be pigeonholed as just ‘another Chinese restaurant’. Tim doesn’t play by the rules, with an ever-changing concise menu to experiment, keep things fresh and showcase his expertise of the cuisine through innovative new dishes. “The menu changes every 2-3 weeks to keep it fresh and exciting. It allows for me and my chefs to create new flavours to make sure we’re ahead of the game. We initially had sweet and sour chicken on the menu but removed it as it just wasn’t innovative or exciting enough, our expectations are very high”.
With the success of their first and only store, could we see another numnum restaurant opening? A franchise even? “We’re looking to expand the menus and could potentially expand with locations. The feedback so far has been promising, we have an 80% return rate which is great, especially as we’ve only been around for 8 weeks”. The restaurant is a charming, affordable, and perfect for those looking for a cuisine with finesse and flavour that pays homage to its rich traditional culinary culture.
81 Scoresby Street
London SE1 0NX
Mon – Fri: 12:00pm to 3:00pm; 5:00pm to 9:00pm