It would have been almost impossible to miss the festivities of Chinese New Year this weekend in London, as lanterns adorned the streets of Soho and dragons danced through the crowds to the beat of drums.
On Sunday morning, the crowds flocked to Chinatown, with everyone eager to catch a glimpse of the dragon parade, the lion dancers, and to sample classic Chinese delights from the shops and restaurants that line Gerrard Street. Having celebrated with a slap-up meal at our favourite Chinese restaurant, Mr. Kong, in Soho the night before, I was very excited to see what traditional treats would be on offer for breakfast the next day. I have to say, the choice did not disappoint! There were sweet buns, pork buns and sweet rice cakes to name but a few, and the queues to sample such pleasures tailed down the street.
For breakfast, I chose the Peanut Twist from Kowloon Restaurant & Cake Shop. I absolutely adore pastry, and this crumbly, tasty delight was the perfect start to the day, especially as it was so easy to eat whilst wondering around to see what entertainment was available. The peanut taste was quite subtle and so the pastry didn’t get too heavy too quickly, but you could definitely taste the nuttiness in every mouthful, and it made for an interesting and unusual combo.
Anyone who missed out on Moon Cake this Chinese New Year missed out on sampling a real traditional Chinese delight, which has grown in its usage as a cake for all Chinese celebrations, but is primarily eaten during the festivities of the Mid-Autumn Festival. The delicious, decorative crust reveals a thick, rich filling usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste. Today, I chose the red bean filling, which was being sold outside my favourite bakery in Soho, Golden Gate Cake Shop. It is very different from the Western cakes which we are used to, in flavour and texture. The crust is chewy rather than flaky, and the filling is very thick and soft; it isn’t crumbly in the slightest and is almost like a sweet savoury dish. It is something that I would definitely recommend to anyone who is interested in trying traditional Chinese delicacies, and I’m excited for next year’s festivities so I can try a different filling!
Chinese New Year in London was a thoroughly enjoyable experience that gave us Brits (and all the other nationalities that make up the diverse population of London) a glimpse into traditional Chinese culture.
This girl and her gorgeous Chinese dress really was one of my favourite sites of the day.