I've been meaning to explore Chinatown in London properly for a while now, so far only having visited a couple of times for dumplings and one of my all time favourite treats - the red bean steamed bun! Prepared with an empty belly and ready to hop to a few different restaurants throughout the night I set out. The night was cold and wet, with winter fast approaching here in London. The rain set the scene for some great night shots and the cold stirred my appetite for some soul warming food. Here are a few shots of the night, with a mini food review following at the bottom.
Now for the important part - the food! Read below for a somewhat drawn out review of each of the places I found myself in throughout the night.
After an initial wander I was eyeing up yet another menu, trying to decide where to invest my hunger when a huge downpour started. That was all the convincing I needed at this point, so I opened the door to 'Leong's Legends continue' - a taiwanese restaurant on Lisle St, and started my culinary escapade.
I've always found it quite strange and awkward asking for a table for one - but the rumble in my stomach had no time for that nonsense and I was swiftly told to head up to the first floor. At the top of the tiny vertigo inducing set of stairs I was greeted by a friendly waiter who sat me at my 'table for one'. After browsing the menu for what seemed like forever I decided to go with a vermicelli noodle soup with taro and shredded pork. Being marked as 'must try', and my strange recent cravings for taro meant I couldn't resist. What came out some 10 minutes later was an giant bowl of soup packed to the brim - absolutely perfect after being out in the cold London night. For £7.50 the portion was huge, really high quality and extremely satisfying. Would definitely eat there again!
At this point I was pretty full to be honest and could have gone home happy there and then - but no! I was committed to trying another couple of spots. I proceeded to walk around all of chinatown for the next hour and a half. Focusing on letting the last meal settle in between taking photos and checking out what else was on offer.
When I was finally ready for another round I entered Wong Kei. At this point I was quite overwhelmed by all of the options, the prices looked good and the menu nearly looked identical to the last 10 places - that was enough. I walked in and was greeted by a 'how many' shouted across the room. 'One' was my reply, brandishing my index finger to help communicate this, as if the lack of company wasn't enough already. 'Take a seat' came back at me and that was that. Before being offered a menu a waiter came over with pen and paper in hand. I'd pretty much decided on the quarter duck with pancakes before walking in, but wanted to see the rest of the menu. Slightly frustrated he walked away and then came back with a menu, a pot of tea, chopsticks and a plate. I was freezing at this point after walking around for hours so the tea was a nice touch that went down a treat. I stuck with my initial decision of the quarter duck, but added a plate of fried wun tuns with sweet and sour sauce. The food arrived in no time. The waiter threw down the duck plate and proceeded to shred it from the bone in front of me and it looked devine! Served with pancakes, cucumber, fennel and sauce this mini DIY kit was perfect and incredibly tasty. The wun tuns followed shortly and were a great addition to an already awesome meal.
The service was terribly awesome - and by that I mean they didn't really acknowledge or talk to you, and seemed kind of pissed off to be there, but at the same time you knew they had it on lock and were kind of putting it on. Some fun banter behind the counter added to the atmosphere and overall I really enjoyed my meal. This isn't the kind of place you'd go for a 'fancy meal' per se, but I'm planning on making this place one I frequent anytime I'm looking for awesome food and a good price in chinatown. Good place to take friends for a cheap shared meal too!
If you haven't gathered already I love food. No seriously. Food is life. Any and all kinds of food - however my sweet-tooth dominates the rest and even after two huge meals, there was always going to be room for dessert. During my earlier wanderings I'd already scouted where I wanted to go and headed straight to the 'Kowloon Bakery'. Wanting to divert slightly from my usual 'red-bean steamed bun' I opted for 3 different treats - a fried sesame ball with red bean, a red bean filled pancake, and a peanut/coconut mochi looking thing. I was really wanting one of everything in the store because it all looked incredible, but had to limit myself. I'll definitely be making more trips here in the future! All three treats were amazing and accompanied by a taro and red bean milk tea, lasted the whole tube ride home and then some!
So if you're ever in London, exploring chinatown is a great night out! Filled with amazing food, questionable service at times, dazzling lights and more. I've only just scratched the surface and am already planing my next visit!