This no-bookings, cash-only Chinese café is an offshoot, a second branch of the original in Brixton Village Market. It’s typical of a new wave of restaurant entrepreneurs who have moved from running a supper club to setting up premises with little experience or capital, spread the word by social media, and built up a loyal following.
The experience gained at the first branch has paid off. On our three visits the service in Clapham was smooth, the kitchen consistent.
The pork buns, which look a little like meat-filled muffins, have a yielding texture and savoury filling.
A spicy chicken ban mein (noodle dish) was generously portioned and intensely savoury. The Beijing dumplings (similar to Japanese gyoza) were correctly pan-fried with a burnished crust.
Leave room if you can for some of the smacked cucumber. This simple, spicy salad, newly popularised in the West by a Fuchsia Dunlop cookbook, has rightly become a new classic.
With a beer or soft drink, Mama Lan’s is a perfect pitstop if you don’t mind the slightly cramped seating, and if you’re in no rush for a table.