I always wanted to try Mama Lan’s freshly made dumplings in Brixton Village. The mother and daughter team from Beijing started with Chinese supperclubs, which gradually turned into this much loved restaurant. It’s a really small place with more sittings outside than in and surrounded by food stalls selling unusually yellow Jamaican yams. The menu is really simple, 4 options of dumplings and 2 types of noodles. The dumplings are £4.50 per plate for 5 dumplings and noodles start from £7.50.
Dumplings are not difficult to make and are must haves on Chinese New Year. I remember my family would all get together, form a production line to make loads of them for 20 people or so to eat at midnight. It’s great fun as we catch up on the latest gossip, decide on the stuffing and make a special filling so whoever eats it would have good fortune all year. Dumplings are associated with family, homemade by mum or grandparents. Most of my Chinese friends don’t know how to make them from scratch.
Of course we can find them easily at restaurants, but the home comfort would be replaced by extra salt and oil. Mama Lan’s dumplings made us feel like home, freshly made on site and delicious.
King prawn, egg and chives, seaweed salad
The wrapping was thicker than usual, which felt extra homey because restaurant ones tend to be more transparent showing the colours of the filling and mostly machine made. When made at home, we never bother to roll them to that transparent. The flavours were really good and not salty at all.
Wood ear, chinese leaves and carrot
Pan fried dumplings tasted better than the boiled ones. Perfectly fried with one side of crispiness, flavoursome filling and very hot.
Verdict - 4/5
Food (very authentic) - exactly like the dumplings we eat in Beijing and at home. Everything is freshly made in house, you can even watch how the fillings are wrapped.
Service (fast) - it’s a very small place but no queue. Service is fast and food comes fast too! Shame that Brixton Village is very difficult for me to get to, wish they can open one next to my house.
Cost (£10pp) - 3 dishes and 2 teas, two of us billed £19.
Brixton Village Market
Coldharbour Lane SW9 8PR