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.
These 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, this summer (2021) visitors can also enjoy a floating botanical garden overhead. Inspiration for the giant hanging blooms has been drawn from the tranquil gardens of East and South East Asia.
Reimagined in this little corner of London, they are bold and beautiful.
Seven different types of flower are represented, each beautiful and each holding its own meaning. 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. They are said to be 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 miss out 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 , creating a fun and delicious experience.
The menu includes toasted ice cream sandwiches made with pandesal, a small bread roll. Ice cream piled high in cones, iced drinks loaded with toppings and ice cream topped brownies. The flavours include black coconut, purple yam and lime.
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-friendly ice drink.
Sweet food, sweet service. Before I sign off can we just take a moment to appreciate the gorgeous decor ? 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.
I’ve visited Chinatown many times but not seen this beautiful floating art installation Helen.
I think it’s just temporary Marion, but it’s lovely. And timely, it does feel like London is starting to bloom again after a long, tough spell.
There are so many Chinatowns! A favourite was in Newcastle, up on the Tyne, but I very much enjoyed the one in Bristol, several years ago now. Happy days!
Oh I’ll have to check out Bristol, I’m headed that way soon. Do you know I grew up not far rom Newcastle Chinatown and never really bothered to venture into the area. I think I neglected my own city when I lived there. I’ll go and be a tourist next time I’m up
Nostalgia time again. I love London’s Chinatown but when I first came to London s..ooo many years ago, Gerrard Street was my haunt for cellar jazz clubs where my nights were spent listening to Ken Collyer, Archie Semple, Chris Barber and the great British Jazz singer, Beryl Bryden. Ah! Those nights in steamy, foetid, cellars before The 100 Club arrived!
What a brilliant time to be out and about in London though! It’s a little corner of the city that has real character…more then than now I suspect. Still a fun place to spend some time though.
I haven’t visited this Chinatown in maybe – oh – sixty years. It’s clearly changed hugely. I need to revisit … but I may pass on the ice cream if it’s super-sweet,
Plenty of other foodie delights on offer Margaret, you wouldn’t go hungry.
I’m trying to remember if I had ice-cream in the Philippines. I don’t think I did, so it might be time to revisit China Town 😊
It’s been many years since I went to China Town, I just remember there being lots of good places to choose from to eat, thanks for sharing this 😊
It’s one of those places i think you could go to over and over and find something new. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, appreciated!