It is so refreshing to have a new restaurant in the City of London which isn’t all glitz and glam. A space which isn’t designed for Instagram and a menu which isn’t watered down for City worker sensibilities. The new Murger Han restaurant isn’t playing these games. They are sticking to their guns – serving up their famous binagbiang noodles, clay pots and meat patties at ridiculously good prices.
Most will come in and grab some noodles and leave it at that. But when you have the time and are ready to challenge your tastebuds, you really should taste your way through this traditional Xi’an cuisine – your Western pallet will be pleasantly challenged.
Kick things off with their signature murger (think of it as a Chinese burger or meaty sandwich). We love the lean pork version, but the spicy beef is the quintessential murger that should be tried at least once.
You get minced beef covered in a spiced chilli oil with a few peppers, all sandwiched between two thick pita-like buns. Eat the sloppy starter with your hands and embrace the mess of it all.
In terms of small dishes, we were also equally perplexed as we were won over by the clam skewers. No description is given beyond that (much like most of the menu). Shavings of what must be clams are covered in a peanut, ginger, garlic and chill sauce and then lightly cooked on skewers. An absolute win.
Then crack into the bigger bits. Which either consist of noodles or clay pots. Because the food here is from Xi’an (located between the provinces of Shanxi and Sichuan), you get lots of different kinds of thick noodles paired with both sour and spicy flavouring. The most famous of these are their biangbiang noodles.
Either get them simple with only spring onion & chilli oil, add some tomatoes and or go even further with some tasty braised pork. No matter which you order, what comes before you is a full-on feast. Giant bowls are full of these thick noodles in a spicy and sour broth with a fermented twang to it. It’s rich and incredibly filling – it’s no wonder most just grab one of these bad boys for lunch and leave it at that. We struggled to get through all of it, all the while making a massive mess while slurping up the giant noodles.
For good measure, we also tried something a little more obscure – Murger Han’s vegetarian clay pot. This was one hell of an experience. The broth itself was both yeasty and heavy with mushrooms, topped with chilli oil.
And as you dig into it, you keep being surprised by all the inclusions. Thick glass noodles sit on buckwheat noodles, and they sit on a big bed of seaweed.
Keep digging and you’ll find shaved potatoes, small boiled eggs, tofu, pak choi, mushrooms and some miscellaneous cubes which taste like something that had been fermented. It was a journey of vegetarian umami flavours. We loved it but god were we confused by it all – it felt like something truly authentic for the region which hadn’t been simplified for our Western pallets.
This was so refreshing as so many Asian restaurants in London tend to dumb down menus for their clientele. But not Murger Han. They know what’s good and what’s been good for centuries. They aren’t messing with that for the Square Mile residents and workers. Thank goodness. Plus, with their prices being beyond reasonable, you get more biangbiang for your buck too. Nothing but wins here at this new City dining destination.
10 Philpot Lane EC3M 8AA