Archives for posts with tag: Chinatown

1888 Mural in Horse and Dolphin Yard, London Chinatown
1888 is an outdoor mural (8 metre by 5 metre) which I created for London, to celebrate the heritage and vibrance of its Chinatown. It was unveiled on 18.08.08 (18th August 2008). Today, it is 3 years old!

Vistors reading the plaque
It is composed of 1888 photos which are related to Chinatown, donated by the public. ‘8’ is a good figure in Chinese numerology – it symbolises fortune, so a triple eight is especially good. The number one, in Cantonese, sounds like the word for ‘every day’. When I created the mural, I wished that it would bring good fortune to Chinatown every day.

It started as an art competition, which I only discovered 6 days before the submission deadline. Even though I am an architect, I have never really entered anything like this – but I felt strongly about it and the ideas just kept coming. 1888 combined my passions (food, photography and event organising) with my attachment to Chinatown. The final idea came to me very quickly. And I won! Continue reading to see how the mural was made (video) and more >>

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With an influx of people from mainland China, Chinatown has become more interesting recently. The variety of food has expanded from just mainly Cantonese to cooking styles from other parts of China. You can imagine my excitement when I heard that there was a new restaurant called Beijing Dumpling.

Like Dumplings Legend, Beijing Dumpling has a show kitchen. They were so determined to sell the idea of freshly made dumplings (Xiao Long Bao 小籠包) that they even used it as its shopfront. With that in mind, I ordered the classic dumpling with crab meat (蟹粉小籠包). How was it?

It was one of the ugliest dumplings I have ever seen served in a restaurant. The skin was not smooth but rough. Unlike the amazing dumplings at Din Tai Fung, I could not taste any crab meat inside. There was not much soup inside each dumpling neither. For a restaurant which put so much emphasis on dumplings in its naming and marketing, I expected higher quality dumplings than these. They did not even give us any vinegar with ginger as dipping sauce, which is the standard condiment for dumplings! (We had to ask for it ourselves)

How was the other food? Sadly, the menu mainly consisted of Cantonese dishes, a handful of Asian ones and even fewer choices from Beijing. With nothing new to try, we opted for the ‘All you can eat hot pot’, which was one of its speciality. For £20 a head, you are supposed to be able to eat as much as you want. You can order any of ingredients from the menu which is a selection of meat and vegetables- Well, that is the theory anyway!

For those unfamiliar with hot pot, it’s Chinese dish normally served in winter. Each table gets a large pot of simmering broth, and a selection of meat, fish and vegetables to cook in the broth. It’s a bit like fondue.

We made it clear to the waiter that right at the time of order that out of the 22 ingredients we could choose from, there were some ingredients we did not want and there were some we would like in a larger portion. We were told that we did not have a choice in the first round as EVERYTHING would come on one plate in default portion.

Little did we know that they meant all the raw ingredients would be ‘dumped’ onto the plate in one go. This was how it looked:

Hot pot for Beijing Dumpling
There was virtually no presentation! It looked like they just scooped everything out from a skip, with prawns flying around, raw lamb and raw beef all mixed up in a mountain of pink. I have had Chinese hot-pot many times in my life, and this is NOT how it usually looks like! And, just in case you think there is a lot of meat, think again! They used the classic trick of putting lots of vegetables underneath to create the illusion of volume! Continue reading >>

 

It is very rare for me to feel that the design of a restaurant and its management style can work so badly with each other that it turns the dining experience miserable, until I went to Dumplings Legend.

Its name suggested their dumplings, or Xiao Long Bao in Mandarin to be precise, are so amazing that they are legendary. It is hard to find great dumplings in Chinatown. Chinese Experience used to do the best ones but they folded last year, unfortunately. You can imagine my excitement when I first heard about this restaurant.

If you eat on the ground floor like we did, you would walk past a gallery kitchen in which the chefs prepare all the dumplings fresh. It was a pleasure to watch and certainly my appetite was stimulated. Promising start!

The restaurant is mainly decorated in white- white painted plastered wall with mirrors. It certainly looks smart and modern from Gerrard Street. But what the owner and the designer overlooked is that this kind of wall finishes are very bad in absorbing sound.  Continue reading >>