I recently made it into London for the first time in… well, far too long. Lockdowns, deployments and general busy life stuff conspired to keep me away. It was great to be back. London really is a brilliant city.
Scrolling Facebook before I arrived in London, a post from Chinatown London caught my eye. I clicked through and got lost in a world of colourful flowers and Filipino ice cream. Beautiful blooms and sweet treats are two of my most favourite things. Count me in.
This was my first visit to Chinatown and I loved it from the minute I passed through the elaborate gate that marks the main entrance. Point of interest about the gate; for all it looks like it’s been there forever, it’s a fairly recent addition. The area was redesigned in the 1980’s to incorporate pedestrianised streets and the iconic gate. The history of Chinatown is rich. More here if that’s your thing. The historic streets are full of colour and fun, bakeries and bars side-by-side with souvenir shops and traditional health clinics. And also some fun finds, like Pokemon themed drinks in a can.
As well as enjoying all on offer at street level, visitors can enjoy a floating botanical garden installation that has been created overhead. Inspiration for the giant hanging blooms has been drawn from the tranquil gardens of East and South East Asia. Transported to this little corner of London, they are bold and beautiful.
Seven different types of flower are represented, each beautiful in their own way and each holding its own meaning. For example, Pink Chinese Peony represents prosperity and wealth while Peach Blossom speaks of vitality and fertility. My favourite would have to be the Orange Tiger Lily which I have in my own garden and that are symbolic of love, passion and happy union. Isn’t the language of flowers fascinating?
After a little wander, a stop for a coffee and a little something was on the cards. If you have a sweet tooth, you won’t go without here. There are take away and sit in options. Bakeries to bubble teas, bubble waffles and ice cream. Endless choices but in pursuit of something different we wandered into Mamasons Dirty Ice Cream. Think you know ice cream? This is the place to come and find something a bit different.
Mamasons is London’s first Filipino ice cream shop. The ‘dirty’ is the name refers to the nick name for traditional ice cream sold on the streets of Manila. It’s produced old school style using salt, ice and a steel pot. Mamasons brings together simple goodness with some exciting flavours and creates a really fun and delicious experience.
The menu includes toasted ice cream sandwiches made with pandesal, a small bread roll. Ice cream scoops piled high in cones, iced drinks loaded with toppings and ice cream topped brownies. The flavours include black coconut, purple yam and lime. Top marks to the guy on the counter for helping us figure out what to order and being very patient despite the line building up behind. We were a bit deer-in-the-headlights with it all.
So what did I end up with? Ube brownie with queso ice cream. That’s a brownie made with purple yam and a sort of caramel cheescakey tasting ice cream. Very sweet, very nice. The Teenagers went for Iced Coffees with coconut milk and ube syrup. The syrup gives the flash of purple, making it a very Insta-worthy ice drink, apparently.
Sweet food, sweet service. Before I sign off can we just take a moment to appreciate the gorgeous decor, also? Love the doll logo. Kind of sweet, kind of fierce. Loved it.
I’d really recommend making time to visit Chinatown and Mamasons if you visit London. And if you already know the area and have any recommendations for my next visit, please do drop them in the comments.