Xiaoxiao Wang, the owner of Noodle and Beer is a post-90s student who originally studied shoe design at UAL. Xiaoxiao’s family owned a restaurant in Sichuan when he was in primary school, so he spent his days hanging out with the chef after school.
For Sichuan people, noodles are a food that can be eaten at any time, a food carrier with a city memory. So, out of nostalgia for his hometown and the fondest ties to his childhood, Xiaoxiao returned home after his postgraduate studies in the UK. He then spent a month studying in a small noodle shop.
From learning about the spices to making the noodles, from boiling the red oil to making the various street food dishes, he did everything himself.
His love for the arts is also reflected in the positioning of noodle and beer. Xiaoxiao wanted to change the stereotype of Chinese food by combining art with Sichuan cuisine and decided to use "making a bowl of small noodles with the spirit of an artisan" as the slogan of the restaurant.
Honest Food Talks was intrigued by the story behind the artisanal Noodle & Beer. We interviewed Xiaoxiao Wang to learn more about the person that started Noodle & Beer.
Where did the idea for Noodle & Beer come from?
To bring the best authentic Chongqing Xiaomian (Chongqing ‘small’ noodles) to the UK, I have involved in every step of this journey, from designing the menu to sourcing the ingredients.
I have spent a great deal of time visiting the noodle specialists in Chongqing and Sichuan provinces, tasting different varieties and trying to unfold their secret recipes.
Through this culinary journey, I had the opportunity to meet the Director of Yu Xiaomian Noodle College. It was a delight to see that we both shared the same vision to champion this regional dish of Chongqing on the global stage.
Since then, I have been working closely with their kitchen team to formulate a simple menu which captivates the essence of this regional speciality, ensuring everyone from meat lover to vegetarians can enjoy the dish.
Besides, I continue to strive in order to fulfil my commitment to preserving the essences of Sichuan culinary traditions while meeting modern expectations.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day involves checking reviews from customers, coming to the restaurant, chatting with my employees and customers, as well as sampling the food!
I have a team of 6 people to feed. They are the main driver for me to keep working hard.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive?
I still use personal organisers. I am a bit old school. Hence, I like to write down my to-do list.
It really gives me the chance to highlight and prioritise things I need to complete first.
What advice would you give your younger self?
It is okay to ask for help.
I was in my 20s when I thought about running a business. I thought I had to be tough by myself.
But through running my business, I got to the realisation that sometimes it is okay to be vulnerable and to ask for help.
We are all human, and it is very rewarding to learn from the people around me.
What is the one thing you do over and over again and recommend everyone else do?
Try, Try, Try. Never give up.
Professionally, what makes you different is what makes you unique.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Thinking from the customers’ perspective.
I encourage my staff to speak with our customers. We offer our diners free appetisers or small gifts in each order.
I know it might not be worth much, but kind gestures go a long way in building good customer relationships.
What's one trend in the F&B industry that excites you?
I love seeing different restaurants working together to launch new products. The partnerships and stories behind the products are fascinating.
What is the best £20 you recently spent? What and why?
Hermes Eau D’orange Verte body wash. It has a refreshing scent that really wakes up my mind.
What is your favourite quote?
小事聽從你的腦，大事聽從你的心 which translates to "Small things listen to your head, big things listen to your heart".
What are some of your favourite places to eat at?
Hmm, I love Zuma and Wolseley for breakfast!
What's the best thing to order from Noodle & Beer?
Everything! I am really proud of our food offerings.
However, if it is your first time coming to our restaurant, I would recommend you to try Tian-Shui Mian, which is handout thick udon noodles, served with sweet but spicy chilli sauce.
See our review of Noodle and Beer's cold noodles.
Are there any exciting plans coming from Noodle & Beer soon?
Yes, yes! We are collaborating with two pastry teams, Piggy One and Bro story.
Piggy One is a flatmates team that specialises in Chinese bakery. Meanwhile, Bro Story is a wife and husband team, drawing references from French cake making to Asian recipes.
In April, we will be launching a cocktail line with 3ake, based in Bricklane. Their cocktails are to die for.
We are constantly pushing for new ideas.
For Mid-Autumn Festival 2022, Noodle and Beer are also offering limited edition mooncakes in London.
Inspired by Xiaoxiao Wang's story? Read Honest Food Talks' interviews with other entrepreneurs in the Food industry!