Glenlivet Nadurra (First Fill)

 

img_0325I do occasionally fear that I may well be bat shit crazy. For you see dear reader, not being content with one chance at catching pneumonia, this week I returned to Hampstead Heath for another ice cold swim. Only this time I was wise enough to bring a reviver along, in the form of a cask strength whisky sure to put pay to any germs with delusions of grandeur. I was slightly worried to bring a dram along the first time, as drinking whisky first thing in the morning is a sure sign that you’ve found your calling in life, in most cases it’s an AA meeting. However there is always an exception that makes the rule, how else could one get away with being a hypocrite! Having concluded that this instance was just such a circumstance, I soon rediscovered just why whisky and adventure pair together so nicely. Having enjoyed an invigorating swim, I quickly took a brisk walk before sitting down for a wee tipple. Unfortunately I’m a forgetful oaf and while I remembered to bring a table for this expedition, I forgot the glass. Thus I found myself sporting the hobo look on this fine morning. It didn’t matter though as the amber jewel nectar once imbibed brought about a serene state of mind. My body warmed, my mind emptied, and I beheld the majesty of existence. In my book it wasn’t a bad start to the day.

Having finally got back home and secured a glass allow me to present my tasting notes for Glenlivet Nadurra. At 63.1% this is strong stuff, and should be mixed with a little water to bring out all the flavours. The nose is initially just pure alcohol but with a little acclimatisation one soon begins to detect a host of citrusy smells with a distinct pear smell coming to the fore.  An initial sweet toffee note gives way to a tremendous pineapple/pear drop taste which is incredibly unique and a hallmark of Glenlivet. I must say that this particular cask strength edition really allows you to appreciate this inimitable flavour. The after taste is a gentle sweet cappuccino that never intrudes but remains present for a good deal of time after you’ve finished. An absolutely remarkable way to start a morning but one that I daren’t repeat for quite some time, a refined and interesting dram that I certainly recommend giving a go.

Verdict: A Classic at Cask Strength

Score: 84/100

Carpe Diem

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The article that sits before you dear reader has arrived with the aid of good fortune. The last week has been absolutely horrendous. Monday through Thursday I found myself inundated with endless tedious tasks with no free time to be had anywhere. I found myself dazed and confused on Friday, suddenly recollecting that I now write a blog. What the hell was I going to write about? I scoured the internet and found many exciting things but nothing appealed. Last week I was up for anything, this week nothing! The truth be told, all I wanted to do over the weekend was lay down and die. Thus I did what most people would do in this situation, I went to bed early and told myself not to worry about it, for tomorrow I would seize the day. A piece of wishful thinking so common it should be found on the first page of the procrastinator’s handbook. Only the next day against all odds something extraordinary happened, I did. The account that follows is of a most enjoyable Saturday in which vim and vigour were suddenly found to be in abundance.

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I awoke at 5:30am the next day feeling groggy but strangely determined. I made some tea, ate some toast, and in the murky depths of my subconscious a plan slowly came into focus. Two separate pieces of information slotted together cumbersomely to form a deduction that was to transform the day. The first unsurprisingly was the simple observation that I dam well needed to snap out of it man. The second was the realization that there were so many things in London that I always wanted to do but hadn’t, so surely I should do one of these. The initial thought that arose was a recollection of an open air lake that you could swim in at Hampstead Heath but it would be too cold at this time of year. Then it struck me, it was so simple. I needed to court hypothermia in order to bring an end to my malaise and thus find adventure. I set off for Hampstead Heath and having got a little lost I arrived a little before 8:00 am. The next thing I knew I was wearing a pair of swimming trunks and was diving head first into the ice cold depths. I did my best to muffle a most unmanly yelp that accompanied my arrival in the water and then set about swimming in this confounded frosty liquid. I soon decided to match pace with two elderly gentlemen who were sauntering along at what appeared to be an agreeable pace. It then became apparent that swimming in water that is slowly freezing the blood inside your veins is bloody difficult. In no time at all these pensioners were lapping me. My troubles then looked set to get a whole lot worst when four insanely buff gents wearing tight designer speedos that left nothing to the imagination arrived. They jumped into the lake in what made for a quintessential picture of manly fortitude. I need not have worried, within forty seconds these herculean specimens had promptly left the swimming area, no longer tanned but incredibly pale, each congratulating the other on how brave they were. Pah, I said to myself, Pah! I might not be able to keep up with the sixty year olds but at least I’m not a good looking, well endowed, wimp!!! The ice cold water was playing havoc with my judgment. After completing a couple of circuits I left the lake and dried off. It was at this point that the magic happened. My circulation kicked into overdrive and quite all of a sudden I felt euphoric. What’s more, my mind was now rendered crystal clear by the voodoo that is ketosis. It’s not every day that a hair brain scheme that was formed in the early hours actually works. I savoured the moment and then worked out what I wanted to do next.

marble_art_4The itinerary for the day then moved to brunch and a journey to the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu temple in London that again I had been putting off visiting for far too long. The origin of this sublime structure, which is pictured at the very top, is epic. The building is made from marble blocks from Bulgaria, which were subsequently sculpted in India, before being shipped back to the UK. The interior is even more majestic with the marble exquisitely carved in breath taking detail. Understandably they have a no photo policy but I did manage to find the picture above through their website. I found being in the temple an incredibly calming experience. I would even go so far as to say that the magnificent internal architecture somehow brought about a serene state of mind. I find it fascinating how one’s external surroundings can drastically alter how one thinks and feels. It must also be said that the people who ran the show were supremely friendly and all too happy to explain the significance of things. In addition to the temple there is also a mini museum that gave novices like me an insight into the history and principles of Hinduism. My favourite Qi style fact that I learnt in this museum was that the Pythagorean Theorem, the square of the hypotenuse of a right angled triangle equals the sum of the square of the two sides, was in fact first proposed in India by Baudhayana. The tour of the temple proved relatively short. After leaving I headed over the road to where they have a great if slightly pricey vegetarian restaurant. All in all, this temple is a positive marvel and personally I feel it deserves as much attention as places such as the Monument and Trafalgar Square get.

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At this stage of my adventure, I was now beginning to reap the full benefits of my earlier exercise, my muscles were seizing up. Thus an activity which involved being a couch potato was called for. The last leg of my journey thus involved a pilgrimage to the temple all things gloriously cheesy. The Prince Charles cinema is easily one of my all-time favourite places in London. For those in the cognoscenti this is the ‘Empire Records’ of cinemas. It might not look like much but this place has a brilliant atmosphere, and it regularly presents some of the very best and all time worse movies in existence. I love movies and for a Nostalgia Nerd like me the Prince Charles is the go to cinema.  The movie I settled upon seeing was ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’, which I had heard many good things about. Two hours later I emerged from the cinema my tiny mind completely blown by the awesomeness of this movie. My fantastic day at an end I skipped off home my neurons a buzz with life’s possibilities.

Before I leave you to your own fantastic day allow me to present a Haiku review of ‘The Hunt for the Wilderpeople’.

Heartfelt funny joy

Charming tale with man and boy

An instant classic

 

The Best Beers Brewed in London: Top 5

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It has been an exciting development in London over the last ten years (or so) to see a staggering amount of new breweries open. There is simply an abundance of exciting, unusual and occasionally very good beers now being produced here. Call me a sucker for marketing spiel but I just love the idea of a group of friends making some beer in their garden shed and then finding out it’s so unbelievably good that they have to bloody well go start a business. I also like the fact that this trendy development in the city has yet to spark any cultural back lash from critics with a pencil to grind. After all pretty much everyone likes a good beer. Having had nothing exciting happen this week I thought I’d spend the weekend sampling many different London beers with friends and compiling a top five. In no particular order these are the results.

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Gamma Ray

The Gamma Ray is hard to miss on the shelf. The can looks like Tim Burton’s ‘Mars Attacks’ with 1950’s flying saucers looking hip and simultaneously reducing humanity to dust! Sadly, I have a confession to make here, the moment I caught sight of a can of this stuff I thought it was the craziest looking beer I’d ever seen. I then promptly concluded that it was trying too hard and that the contents couldn’t possibly live up to the design. How wrong I was. It took a great deal of time for me to try this fine beverage but a friend one fine evening brought me a glass of it without the can in sight. It had a fantastic refreshing zingy grapefruit taste that instantly made me take things easy and enjoy the day. ‘What is this fine brew?’, I asked, at which point my folly was made apparent. This is my Homer Simpson beer it’s ideal for lazing about and watching telly with. The Gamma Ray for me is also an important lesson in giving things a go in life. Readers will be pleased to hear that since this incident I’ve given up judging books by their covers and am now more of a size queen.

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Double Perle

Double Perle is a mighty brew, a richly flavoured coffee milk stout, at 8.6% abv it is definitely a sipping beer. A delicious smooth thick creamy texture is the way by which this beer makes its’ introduction. The taste begins rapidly with a pronounced chocolate and coffee taste coming right off the bat. Next a superb vanilla note emerges giving the sweet cappuccino taste already present an interesting dessert twist. Finally a bitter dark chocolate taste lingers unobtrusively at the end. This is a highly balanced beer, the coffee flavour is never overstated and while incredibly sweet it is never sickeningly so. An absolutely marvellous brew, it’s a precious drink to be savoured at the end of a fine day. A luscious velvet treat, that I’d better stop talking about, as I fear I’m beginning to sound like Nigella Lawson crossed with Gollum.

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Crate Sour

The Crate Sour can be summed up in one word “interesting”. Many of the beers on this list would be considered an acquired taste but this is the genuine article, a truly acquired taste. In the sense that you first take a few sips and quickly conclude that this is a god awful abomination. Next you take a few more sips and hey presto, as if by magic, you’ve suddenly acquired a taste for it. A sour is basically a beer that has gone off. In short it’s a bad idea that never should have caught on, like eating fugu or drinking cow’s milk. How humanity regularly concocts and promotes such bad ideas is a true mystery to me. Yet in this case the result is magnificent. The Crate Sour is truly splendiferous. It has a wonderful tropical fruit aroma. The taste is a sharp shocking sour sensation that is the equivalent of a bungee jump for the tongue. However, after the initial fright you begin to detect a light fruitiness and a mystifying hint of hibiscus. I’m not a huge fan of sours but this one’s insanely awesome.

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Kernel Table Beer

As the name would imply this is a no fuss everyday beer. Nevertheless this gentle refreshing brew with its’ wonderful hoppy citrus flavour is highly drinkable stuff. It might not be bombastically spectacular but it is rather special. Especially given that for a beer with an abv of only 3.3% it packs in an incredible amount of flavour. The fact you can have several bottles of the stuff without any fear of adverse effects is simply a bonus. Quite a few people do complain that this beer is a little watery, yet in my experience it’s not that watery. More to the point, I find this an odd criticism, given that the style of beer under examination is a table beer. It’s like someone saying that they thought Hamlet was a brilliant tragedy but that the sad ending felt unnecessary. Quite simply this is a fantastically crafted table beer that has a mellow nature which pairs perfectly with a glorious summer’s day. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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Fuller’s London Porter

In life one should always save the best till last, and this is it. Fuller’s London Porter is as black as the devils heart and just as tasty. A rich malty brew, it has a chocolaty flavour with a light coffee note and just a hint of smokiness. It is a sophisticated beer that I could drink all day long. This is the granddaddy of London beers, the brew to which all others must be compared. The definitive classic! Fuller’s isn’t some upstart brewery that ironically informs clientele that it was founded in 2008, no it is the original London brewery founded in 1828. And its’ London Porter is the very best it has to offer. This is the Montecristo, the Rolls Royce, the friggin Big Ben of beers. If it was a piece of classical music it would have been composed by Bach, if it was a scientific formula it would make Steven Hawking cry tears of joy, and if it was a painting it would not be hanging in the Louvre cos some bastard would have nicked it. Its awe inspiringly beautiful, delightfully elegant and a good few bottles will get you drunk.

Just in case I’m being too subtle, allow me to summarise, if you love beer buy this!

So those are my Top 5 London Beers! Did I miss out anyone’s favourites? If so post them in the comment section below. Also what did people make of the doodle? I’m thinking of having more for future articles.

 

Hackney One Carnival: review

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Carnivals are bloody marvellous! There’s something so stupendous about a group of people getting together to simply have fun. In London the Notting Hill Carnival is easily the most famous, however there are some smaller but no less spectacular events which really need to be shouted about. Two weekends’ back I attended one of them, the Hackney One Carnival and had a truly most excellent time. Unfortunately my write up was delayed due to the sleep deprived state I found myself in at the end of the event which meant my subsequent write up of said event was pants. Here’s hoping that the second time’s the charm.

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On Sunday the 11th I found myself sipping rum from a coconut, on a glorious day, in a fantabulously warm and friendly atmosphere. In fact I dare say that there aren’t enough superlatives in the English language to do the setting justice*. Before the carnival began one was greeted by a mass of food stalls and flags all competing to out smoke the other. There were people hanging out of their bedroom windows in anticipation of the spectacle, some seriously chilled out dudes playing some drums, and some incredibly well prepared tourists with nifty deck chairs.   After a delayed start the procession of awesome sauce made its presence known when a truck laden with speakers laid down some fat beats and set off every car alarm within the vicinity. Thus begun a wondrous marching cacophony of culture!

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In the endless multi coloured blitz that followed there were many, amusing, amazing, and darn right odd sights to behold. Highlights included granny pirates, Japanese warlords, steam punk clockwork elephants, daemons, and of course the obligatory scantily clad maidens. My favourite dancing group were the gent’s from Bolivia, with groovy hats and ace jackets that were black with magenta dragoons at the front and had cool glittery blue at the back, these fellows stole the show. It’s a terrible way to describe it, but if you were there you’d agree, that their dance resembled a more jovial Maori war dance. A Maori ‘let’s be friends’ dance if you will. In this amassed hubbub of vibrant energy I found myself completely engrossed in the sights and sounds, completely in the moment. It struck me that everyone appeared to be having an insanely good time. It wasn’t to last. No sooner had I thought this, than a stroppy ten year old wearing the most brilliant spider costume ever, lethargically meandered past in a sulk. The sorrow in his eyes was similar to that of a deadly kitten forced to wear cute reindeer antlers. It’s probably a statement which doesn’t reflect kindly on me, but this made my day. However putting this brief giggling fit of schadenfreude to one side, I must admit that the event really brought out the gentle joyous best in me and everyone else to boot.  At the end of the procession I sat down drank a little more rum and floated off to dance the night away.

I’d highly recommend everyone who hasn’t been to check this event out next year if they can.

*Maybe I’m exaggerating a little.

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Nikka from the Barrel Review

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The Japanese make some of the best damn Whisky in the world. Unfortunately the price of drams such as Hibiki and Yamazaki have sky rocketed. At the time of writing this a bottle of Yamazaki 18 which once could be purchased for £65 is selling for £450. In such instances one finds that the connection between quality and price has been severed. Investors have elevated the whisky to the realm of status symbol.  As such it is decreed that it may only be quaffed by ego maniacs and the taste bud free dull witted victims of inbreeding. Of course I won’t be the one complaining if I wake up tomorrow to find that all the bottles of whisky I have are now worth a fortune. However until that day I hope the reader will forgive me if I quickly curse the law of supply and demand, and congratulate human stupidity for once again exceeding my expectations.

I do apologise I appear to be ranting, getting back to the topic of Japanese whisky allow me to present salvation! ‘Nikka from the Barrel’ is a most excellent Japanese dram that against all odds has remained thoroughly affordable. It is a truly superb blended whisky with all the elements involved combining seamlessly to make something rather spectacular. It costs around £35 and comes in a simple inconspicuous 50cl bottle that looks more like a bottle of aftershave than a whisky. In fact when I first received a bottle as a birthday present I was rather worried. It has a rather hefty 51.4% abv but you’d never guess that from its’ gentle understated taste. As such I find it an ideal whisky to enliven an evening and promote merry conversation about nonsense.  In my experience even those who profess to hating whisky love this stuff. The nose makes for a fantastic first introduction; it is citrusy with a delightful hint of Japanese oak. The taste has a zesty orange, a wonderful hint of vanilla and a spicy quality reminiscent of Christmas pudding.  I also detect a plum wine note which I think makes it rather special. Finally it has a short dry oak finish that will have you quickly raising your glass for a second sip. All in all I find Nikka from the Barrel a majestic gentle sipping whisky that pairs perfectly with talking bollocks.

Verdict: Get it while you can.

Score: 87/100

Beat Boredom Ride a Rollercoaster

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Last week I had a serious case of ennui. I was bored out of my brains and against all reason I couldn’t help but find every single thing in life, dull, dreary, and mind numbingly tedious. Given the truly wondrous nature of existence I find it absolutely extraordinary that humans can achieve this state of existence without the aid of dire circumstances. Nevertheless last week I was in relative luxury and experiencing it! To make matter’s worse I had a spell of unprovoked grumpiness; that horrible state where one feels one ought to be annoyed about something but can’t bloody well find anything to be annoyed about. Finally all of this was topped off by the fact that some git had lent me a ‘fantastic’ book on suicide. In short last week I was a Parisian on existential steroids, given another day of monotony, I swear I would have written an opus on the futility of existence. At times like this, one needs a cunning plan, a mad scheme that will inject a sense of whimsy into one’s life. Unfortunately the state of ennui is not conducive to finding solutions. So in the end I deferred to happenstance and asked a friend what I should do. She told me to get on a rollercoaster and scream my head off like a lunatic. So that’s exactly what I did.

I settled on Thorpe Park as my destination for the simple reason that it was the closest theme park to London I could find.  I arrived, spotted what looked like the biggest bad ass rollercoaster there (Stealth) and immediately joined a very long queue. Fifty minutes of uninterrupted grumbling later and I found myself nonchalantly getting on the rollercoaster. It was at this stage that my sense of ennui went AWOL. I was about to experience something incredibly real and in all that grumbling through the queue I had never once considered that I might not want to go on a rollercoaster. The caveman part of my brain had awoken to find itself in the perilous grasp of a mighty beast. A 21st century woolly mammoth with laser tusks no less. Thirty terrifying seconds later the caveman lived to tell the tale. I was suddenly filled with a sense of elation. The Parisian part of my brain tried to counter the mood by pointing out that life was still inherently futile. The caveman part of my brain retorted, by bonking him over the head with a club. I was having fun again!!!

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Over the course of the day, I discovered that there was so much to do and that everything brought an exhilarating rush. Given its relatively small size Thorpe Park packs in a lot of great rides.  All five rollercoasters are absolutely fantastic. I particularly enjoyed ‘Stealth’ which shoots you up and then down a hill at 80mph, and ‘Colossus’ which has an incredible ten inversions. The smaller rides were also great and I would seriously recommend ‘The Slammer’ and ‘Rush’.  The former spins you upside down while the latter swings you about like crazy. (Readers need not thank me for my detailed and accurate ride descriptions). The only ride I’d recommend avoiding is ‘The Detonator’, which is a lift drop thing. I was lulled into going on this ride by a deceptively short queue. Unfortunately the throughput on this ride turned out to be dreadfully slow and the tiny queue turned out to take forty plus minutes. Once on board, the ride proved insanely short and incredibly tame, put simply the cost to screams ratio here was economically unsound.

In conclusion, I had an absolute blast at Thorpe Park. I also learned that boredom is no match for a thoroughly horrific experience.

What do you do to counter the incessant meaninglessness of it all?

 

The Best Restaurants in Chinatown

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Chinatown is one of my favourite places in London. It’s a wonderful unique part of the city with lots of interesting places to explore. For a start there are a few hidden treasures crammed into this small patch of inner London. There’s the experimental cocktail club, a tiny noodle factory in Dansey Place, and of course every year you can come here to see the incredible Chinese New Year celebrations. However it is for the food that most people come to Chinatown, with an incredible eighty plus restaurants located here. Unfortunately a good deal of the food here is on the average side, so allow me to present my guide to the best restaurants I’ve come across. It must be admitted before we begin that I’m no food critic but I do have some modicum of taste, and having tried at least fifty of the restaurants here, I feel I can at least impart some knowledge about the most interesting places to go. So without further ado let’s begin.

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Hung’s

For me Hung’s is Chinatown! A bazillion drunken misadventures count this place as their glorious resting place. In my student day’s I had so many wonderful nights in which I ended up drinking a tad too much. Thankfully in such circumstances some part of my brain managed to keep functioning and before too much alcohol could be imbibed it would sound a deep ancestral call that would lead me to salvation. Like some sort of drunken equivalent to a Canadian goose, in the early hours I always knew to head to Hung’s. It was always a joy to slowly come back to my senses in the early hours, in the company of my best friend, some complete stranger who we had dragged along, and some incredibly tasty food. I do not know what magic is at work in this oriental greasy spoon, but I swear that the cure for the hangover resides somewhere on this restaurant’s premises.  Hung’s is open from 10am and remains open until 4am, the food’s delicious and thus there can be no excuse for not trying it once if you’re based in London.

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Jen Café

If I could think of one word to sum up this charming green cafe on the corner, it would be Spartan. In an area renowned for its curt and brisk service, Jen’s café finds itself in a league of its own, with endearingly grumpy staff reminiscent of Oscar from Sesame Street. Attempt idle chit chat at your peril dear reader. However it’s not just the enchanting service that you come here for, no, it’s the best dumplings in all of Chinatown which make this café an absolute gem. The dumplings here are pure perfection and one can see them being made fresh every day in the shop window. My personal favourites are the fried ones, as they have a thin crispy outer layer that then quickly leads into a soft doughy centre that melts in the mouth, positively awesome.  Aside from the dumpling’s the rest of the menu is a tad underwhelming, but the dumplings are godly I tell you, and I wholeheartedly recommend that you drop by here sometime for a quick snack.

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Tokyo Diner

Next door to Jen’s café is another fantastic no frills restaurant, The Tokyo Diner. A specialist in Japanese food, the restaurant is spread over three levels and has a simple wooden décor that gives it a warm cosy feel.  What I really love about the Tokyo Diner is that it has so many little unique touches. For a start they refuse to take tips, you can increase the amount of rice you have with a meal at no extra cost, and you are always greeted by a complimentary cup of green tea on arrival. Combine these tiny differences with the delicious food here and the result is that you leave with a genuine sense that you’ve been given a taste of another culture. Recently the Tokyo Diner has grown in popularity so expect queues to get in. The dish everyone raves about in this place is the Chicken Katsu Don, which is insanely good. My favourite dish however is the Udon (soupy noodles). It is one of those rare dishes that prove a great comfort as a result of its simplicity. I think in many ways that best sums up the whole feel of this delightful diner.

Tao Tao Ju

Tao Tao Ju

The Tao Tao Ju is a restaurant with a nice atmosphere, some seriously tasty food, and some awfully friendly staff (which in these parts amounts to a small miracle). Yet none of these fine qualities, admirable though they may be, amount to my reason for including it on this list. The fact that it makes the cut is almost entirely down to one thing, that ancient art practiced by drunken masters of all nationalities, namely karaoke. The spiritual power of this social ritual cannot be denied, terrible singers with delusions of grandeur aside, the fact is that karaoke has the magical ability to bring people together. There’s just something so human about it and yet I cannot for the life of me pinpoint what it is. It is perhaps fitting then that the name Karaoke means ‘empty orchestra’, which is some serious mystical sounding shit. However it works, it does, and I highly recommend you hire a booth at the Tao Tao Ju, where you can combine this mystical experience with some fantastic food.  (Just be sure to book in advance).

Duck and Rice

Duck and Rice

The Duck and Rice definitely should not be on this list, for a start it’s not even officially in Chinatown (it’s a tiny walk away in Soho).  Moreover while the food in this establishment is excellent, I think the price just isn’t quite worth it. So how come it made the list? Because it’s a maverick damn it, a Chinese restaurant that follows nobody’s rules, not even its own. Nah, just kidding, the real reason is that this place does the most fantabulous prawn toast ever. In all seriousness it’s definitely worth trying at one time in your life. Thankfully you don’t have to go to the restaurant to try it. The ground floor of this establishment is a bar and has a great selection of craft beers which you can combine with the delicious dish in question. So if you ever fancy a mini adventure when you’re in Chinatown, that may turn out to be a complete disaster due to my subjective opinion, you know where to go. I can already picture death cries from my readers as they realize that a better restaurant was forsaken for a trendy hors d’oeuvre that they have found wanting.

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Bar Shu

Sticking with the theme of expensive restaurants that aren’t technically in Chinatown but are literally across the street, allow me to introduce for your delectation Bar Shu. A restaurant that specialises in the fiery cuisine of Sichuan province. It differs significantly from most places in Chinatown which tend to offer Cantonese cuisine, and over the last few years’ food critics appear to have gone positively barmy for this restaurant. The food on offer here is delicious and incredibly spicy, more specifically this place is renowned for the unique way it mixes unusual flavours and textures. The dishes on offer often combine, hot, sweet, and sour, flavours. The result is that the meal you order is often greater than the sum of its parts. To enter the realm of hyperbole briefly, by the time I had finished my first meal here I felt that I had experienced a well-orchestrated cacophony of flavours the like of which I’d never tasted before. Do not worry about the fact that you will likely not have a clue about what to order, the staff here are fairly friendly and more than happy to help you choose a selection of dishes. I have a feeling that given time this style of food will really catch on across the country, but in the mean time you might like to give it a whirl the next time you’re in Chinatown, just try not to have a heart attack when you’re handed the bill at the end.

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Four Seasons

There are two Four Seasons in Chinatown that’s how popular they are, and both are famed nay renowned for offering the most awesome roast duck in all of Chinatown. If you order the roast duck in either establishment then you will soon be greeted with a truly superb dish. Nicholas Lander of the Financial Times goes as far as to assert that this is the best roast duck in the world. Putting such grand assertions to one side, I can at least say that it’s pretty damn good. The dish in question consists of delightful thin boneless slices of tender duck, which possess a wonderfully crisp sweet soya sauce infused skin. The result is a veritable taste sensation. The rest of the food on offer is unfortunately quite average; it’s not bad by any means, but it doesn’t come close to matching the duck. Quite simply if duck is your favourite dish, then this is where it’s at, if not then this is not the restaurant you are looking for.

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Joy King Lau

Joy King Lau is an unassuming place and one of my favourite restaurants in Chinatown. It is home to some superb crispy noodles and has a fantastic dim sum menu that includes such unusual and exciting dishes as, Octopus Curry, Marinated Duck Tongue, and Drunken Chicken Feet. I think I like this place so much, because in a case of pure happenstance the noodles there match perfectly the one’s that I ordered so many years ago at the first Chinese restaurant I ever went to. Given that said restaurant no longer exists, I was absolutely ecstatic to discover Joy King Lau. Nostalgia aside, this restaurant is in my wholly inexpert opinion a wonderful place which is off the beaten track and well worth a try. However I must also impart a warning about this restaurant to my readers. Located on the second floor is the gentleman’s toilet which has a rather unique feature. I discovered it on my first visit, it made its presence known to me by means of a frosty chill, by which I came to notice a massive window which was wide open and overlooked the main street. It soon occurred to me that anyone looking up could see my Johnson going about its business. I trust you will all learn from my mistake!

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Candy Café

Tucked away on Macclesfield Street, is a little door, with a tiny sign, and some rickety stairs, that either lead straight to heaven or a sugary grave, depending on your outlook on life. Once inside you’ll find a small room with a drab interior but for heaven’s sake don’t be put off. The candy café is a pure delight that specialises exclusively in Asian deserts and bubble teas. The deserts here are well portioned, all under a fiver, and amazing. Personal favourites here include green tea ice cream and anything with mango. I truly adore this place it brings out the child in me and sends me on a glorious sugar high. One time I even left with the thought that world peace is indeed possible. It’s just a simple matter of fact that diplomacy needs more ice cream. In short this place always has me brimming with light heartedness, and in such a crazy world that can’t be a bad thing.

So those are my favourite places in Chinatown. Did I miss out somewhere totally unbelievable, am I a cotton headed ninny muggins, or do you agree with all my opinions and wish to help me create the greatest echo chamber of mutual-congratulation that the internet has ever seen. Whatever your views, be sure to post in the comment section below.