Neptune

Once upon a time, I was a student in Bloomsbury and used to walk by the exuberant, neo-Renaissance grandeur of the Hotel Russell every day. Its flamboyant exterior lorded it over the polite Georgian townhouses of the Bloomsbury – and averted eyes from the concrete monstrosity next door. For all the tourists knew, Russell Square…

Roux the Day?

The Landau is a peculiar restaurant: its high ceiling and broad, ovoid shape jar slightly with the faux-industrial lights and neo-art deco fittings. The overwhelming openness of the main room is probably enough to set off an attack of agoraphobia, yet it is accessed by a narrow, even pokey, little corridor from the Langham’s lobby….

XU

“Out with the pigs, in with the dogs!” This is how one of my lecturers recounted the way in which her landlady in Taiwan had explained the transition from Japanese occupation to Nationalist rule, during the 1940s. In addition to her native Hokkien, this old lady had been brought up to speak passable Japanese, but…

My Anaconda Don’t…

‘Please be aware that the fries may contain some small bits of bone.’ This is not what I had expected. Closer interrogation revealed that said fries may have also contained rather large bits of duck tongue too. But then, one doesn’t go to a Chinese restaurant in search of chips, does one? Chinese steamed buns…

Facing the Name

“Oh, so you’re Alexandra?” I interjected, before realising that the look of incredulity¬†on my face was clearly visible to my friend’s flatmate. Not in an aeon would I ever have imagined that an ‘Alexandra’ might be a frizzy-haired ginger girl. In the interests of full disclosure, I will admit that¬†I do have certain preconceptions about…

Norwich: England’s Forgotten Medieval Gem

“Norwich?! What made you decide to go up there?” Such was the reaction of most of my friends, once I told them that LBJ and I had decided to visit it on a day-trip. I had always been curious about Norfolk, and Norwich in particular, after living in Cambridge for a year without ever having…

Som Saa

“I think you have not ordered nearly enough.” I raised an eyebrow in response. “It says here that we recommend four or five dishes between two people,” the waiter continued. “We’ll see how it goes with these, we can always order more later on,” I chirped back. I am at Som Saa, the much-Instagrammed new…

Facebook: One Decade Later

I remember it quite clearly, the day I first heard about Facebook. In April 2005, a somewhat more technologically-literate friend announced something about our university joining it over MSN. Curious, I had a peek. It wasn’t a case of love at first sight. Its usefulness was not particularly apparent. There were four people that I…

The Dadbod: a Celebration of Mediocrity?

In recent weeks, the internet has been awash with articles about that so-called ‘dadbod’ -defined by the aptly-named McKenzie Pearson as being ‘a nice balance between a beer gut and working out.’ Despite my initial assumption that this was a physical manifestation of the Electra complex, the men to whom this term is applied are…

Bao Down and Worship Them?

A couple of weeks back, I was wondering where to take La Belle Japonaise for dinner. I had heard that Bao, a Taiwanese steamed bun stall, that used to have an outlet on Featherstone St. (before it was demolished to build the White Collar Factory), had now opened a restaurant in Soho. I had been…

Orrechiette Arturo

Some years ago, when I was having to use a cramped student kitchen in a 15th-Century cottage in Cambridge, I came up with this recipe. After moving to Brussels a couple of years later, I tweaked it somewhat, to reflect the range of ingredients available in the local Moroccan shops (the only places that stayed…