Kamis, 16 Januari 2014

Asia in London; a day trip to the Far East and a taste of home.

I always pick Glasgow over London and state how much I hate London, while deep inside I have to admit that London has those little big things Glasgow doesn’t. I was not ready to see Asia laid off in front of my nose . . . in London.

Like London’s subway that I really love. Glasgow’s subway runs in a circular track, nothing like London’s spider web underground system. Or the number of theatres in London and my love for performing arts that makes it another +1 for London. Glasgow has theatres too, but London’s Piccadilly district and its theatres is just so gorgeous (apart from the fact that it is almost always packed by tourists). So I have to admit that Glasgow has the miniature of the things I like in London, and as we know that miniatures are like the sample version of the real thing.

But what I cannot accept is the fact that I love London’s Chinatown and having to find Glasgow’s Chinatown is nothing like its sample version. I mean it is huge and pretty. It has everything you can think of about Asia, from chopsticks with fine ornaments to the best baozi steamed buns in the United Kingdom. Asia is just a step off your tube carriage in London’s Leicester Square underground station in the Piccadilly line.

Standing in the streets of London’s Chinatown, I’ve felt like I’m in the Far East with Chinese writings on shop windows and red lantern ornaments hung up above my head. I came back to Glasgow with a heavier bag filled by stuffs I’ve bought in London’s Chinatown  and a growing pride of my Asian roots.

These are the top 5 things I’ve found in London’s Chinatown:

1. Chinese buffet restaurants with more than just mediocre Chinese buffet dishes
Exceptional buffet-class dishes really! Unlike those with soggy wonton pastries in most buffet restaurants.
£ 9.95 for lunch

2. Bakeries
Not just bakeries, they’re the ones that suits my Asian palate with red bean paste bread and super soft chiffon rolls or experimental peanut crusted breads. I like French bakeries, but its Asian sisters are just so irresistible.
£ 1 – 2.50 each

3. Asian kitchen shops
Not just an Asian grocery shop, it’s the shop that sells beautiful Japanese bowls and chopsticks with pretty ornaments on it. They’ve got most of their pretty bowls and teacups imported from the Far East, authentic pieces!
£ 6.95 for a Japanese rice bowl
£ 2.50 for a pair of decorated chopsticks

4. Asian snacks
From authentic Japanese mochi, Indonesian sukro peanuts to Chinese milk candies: diet what? I’ve also found Asian street foods like Taiwanese bubble tea and Chinese baozi steamed bun, the best in England ever.
£ 1.20 for a red bean baozi bun
£ 3.65 for a glass of Taiwanese bubble tea

5. A taste of home
I am an Asian. I am an Indonesian. I’ve found a piece of home.
£ 6.00 nasi gudeg at Warung Indonesia

I cannot believe it, 3 years living in the United Kingdom and I have just found this place a week ago. I am ashamed of the Asian I have became to miss the elephant in front of my nose (P.S. that’s an Indonesian phrase I’ve used J).

Chinatown, London, December 2013
Canon EOS 60D
Canon EF-S 14-22mm
128 mm UV

Irassaimase (welcome in English) written in Hiragana stuck on the window, 
and the warm wooden structure indeed welcomed me to take a peek at the busy Japanese restaurant.
Most of the restaurants in the Chinatown are just as inviting as this one,
ranging from Chinese buffets, Dim Sum stalls to Korean grills.

Red Lantern
Chinatown, London, December 2013
Canon EOS 60D
Canon EF-S 14-22mm
128 mm UV

A red lantern hund on the sky in the middle on the main street of the Chinatown district.
As I've made my way through the bustling streets,
I've looked up the sky just to be thrown away to the far-flung Hongkong in a short glance.

The Alley
Chinatown, London, December 2013
Canon EOS 60D
Canon EF-S 14-22mm
128 mm UV

The smaller alleyways are packed with oriental shops and food stalls.
You can almost find Far East curiousities in these shops from Chinese golden cats, 
silk cheongsams to lacquered chopsticks,
with a hint of aromatic duck aroma lingering around you from takeaway food stalls nearby.

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