Tag Archives: chinatown

Big trouble in little Chinatown as rent rises force restaurant owners out | UK news | The Guardian

29 Mar

Big trouble in little Chinatown as rent rises force restaurant owners out | UK news | The Guardian.

i have been aware that chinatown is not solely chinese restaurants for some time now when i see a betting shop and a pizza joint  and even a indian restaurant coming in. this report by the guardian says a kfc is in there as well. i suppose it is inevitable. big chains can afford the rent. and it would seem warlords from china are investing here too and so push up rents. on the face of it, u would think u cannot fail with a chinese business in chinatown, but u sure can. haha. tourists come and there is a lot of footfall, but they take pictures and then go to a kfc to eat. heheh.

all the old regulars like me, have gone. in the past a group of us would once a week gather at a restaurant and have a meal, and it would be less than £8 each (with some of us having tsingtao beers from cans) for a really satisfying meal with huge portions. gradually that went and we left when the restaurant changed hands and we never returned, not only to that restaurant but to others. maybe none of them could afford to give that kind of deal anymore. 

it is inevitable really. we all saw it when old compton st in soho first started turning gay. before , it was a quiet street, than when gay businesses came in, it became the in-place to be seen, and rents went up , the gay places left and bingo, it is now a high rent street.

i think that will happen with chinatown too. can we lament it, yes, but it is inevitable. the price of their success is the very destruction of their way of life.

the chinese businesses will need to find another place, for sure it will be in the outskirts of london, like the koreans in new malden. or the gays in vauxhall. hang on, you might say vauxhall is not far from soho… haha. you will be right, but it was then a run down area with railway arches going all over the place. 

they will just be pushed further and further out. what to do ? maybe buy the freehold of the property though the tax laws dont make business sense. it is more tax favourable to pay rent than buy. but it wont stop the change of atmosphere when all the chinese restaurants round you sell up or shift out. u might end up selling your property for the capital gains, or renting out your premises to a chain restaurant. 

come to think of it, it might be a good pension plan. it would ensure u have a lot more money making from the property than all those years of running a chinese restaurant. haha. 


home is lovely when it is cold and raining outside

22 Feb


most of us will have an ordinary day without any dramatic incidence, and i am sure we are very glad it is so. i am sure if we read the news we are quite glad that our day is so ordinary. haha.

i read of the fire that engulfed the high rise residential block , called the torch, in dubai. makes me glad i dont live in a high rise. it makes u start asking yourself what is the attraction of living in a tower block, when escaping a fire miles up will be difficult as u have to walk downstairs, the lifts being out of bounds.

and it seems quite easy for a fire to start, and how come the building is not using materials that will confine any fire to just the flat it is in, instead of spreading so quickly. lots of questions to ask,   it must make all high rise owners wondering if they had forgotten some basic survival principles when they opt to buy a flat in a tower. 

i look at the high rise towers being built all round me in central london, and i wonder do those owners know what they are buying into? that flat may be their coffin and they would have spent a huge fortune to end up making it their funeral pyre.

though i have noticed when a fire occur in a tower block in london, the fire is almost always confined to the flat, and seldom, in fact, as far as i know, never has the whole tower gone up in flames. i wonder if the building fire proof requirements are stricter and more carefully implemented in uk than in dubai. 

this is the weekend after chinese new year on thursday so london is hosting its annual cny festival in chinatown. it may be the nearest time the chinese living here can celebrate as there is no public holiday on thursday. though i know the chinese would have taken their reunion dinner on the 18th feb, and booked a table at the restaurants then.

i remember we used to do it, booking a table of about 10people. but eventually we gave up the practise, as the service was horrible, and the food came in dribs or drabs or in a rush with long intervals between courses. cant really blame the staff or the kitchen … the jam of people  is awful, u would think they are giving away free food. 

not much fun for the chinese workers in the chinese restaurants, having to work on chinese new year eve; but it is great for the customers. and a chance for the workers to get extra pay, i bet. everybody accept that the price will go up for the bookings on chinese new year eve. it is very crowded too so the price hike has not deterred customers. as for this weekend, i doubt there are many chinese actually eating in the restaurants this sunday;  those who do are not locals, or are westerners, or tourists. haha. 

i have just been in chinatown , but did not stay long, as it was raining, and frankly add rain to cold and it is not a place to be outdoors. i see plenty of people around, esp forming long queues outside the eating places in chinatown. and that was at about 3pm. i am afraid i am not hardy enough to hang around and chickened out and quickly fled home. haha.

the buses are jammed even on normal days due to road works but today it seems worst. on a sunday too. so i did not wait for the 88, my usual bus that drops me right by my door, but took the next bus that came along, fortunately the number 3 bus. i  got off at lambeth bridge and walked back to the flat. 

a sunday day

7 Sep


I am sitting in the public gardens outside a caffe nero on the tottenham court road. i am using the cafe’s free cloud wifi. rather nice of them to let it be used by anyone not only their customers. though i expect i will get advertising from them seeing i have to register with my details.

 i had a nice free coffee from the waitrose nearby to accompany the moon cake i got free in chinatown.

incidentally this branch of waitrose has really nice croissants. nice and puffy unlike the one that has newly opened in pimlico, opposite the tescos where the croissants look so small and collapsed that once when i went there to buy it i changed my mind when i saw them.

but i would come all the way here for them if ever i get the urge to have one with my free coffee. I was too full today.

Chinatown was celebrating the mooncake festival today and a stall there was asking the chinese people to sign up for activities. one of these activities  i saw was a free health walk in canterbury later this month.

 i thought that would be nice to go to… it is a free coach trip there , a free lunch and then a walk accompanied by a guide. when i signed up i did not know they include a free lunch as well. i was thinking of just taking along my own lunch and drink;  

and anyone who signs up gets a mooncake so that is how i got this mooncake i am eating now. getting free things is a great plus for happiness. sitting across me is the space where caffe nero customers were sitting. there were quite alot of them. none of them were using their laptops. i wonder why? one of them was on his phone. some were reading. 

i haven’t eaten one for some time and this one got 2 egg yolks. i am reminded how nice egg yolks are in moon cakes. it was very difficult to eat all of the cake. it is so ‘rich’. i am saving it for later. eaten over several days is the best way to eat it.

there was a book came out talking about happiness and the review of it says the author suggests that one of the ways of being happy is to do new things. but from my experience with this moon cake, i wonder if happiness is rediscovering how nice something is that u used to do ages ago and have forgotten. it need not always have to be a new thing.

 i guess i shall read the book if i see it in the library. i wonder whether he mentioned the large role health plays in happiness. if u have bad health it can impact big time on your happiness. 

17 March, 2014 11:44

17 Mar

london Monday

yesterday i arranged to meet a group of gay guys in the british museum in the afternoon.

they were going to have dim sum in chinatown before then.

it was st patrick’s day and there was a march in town, disrupting the buses. i did not know that, and was surprised that my 88 bus never came. luckily i decided to risk it and walk to parliament square to catch the 24, which is what i really want to take as it takes me to tottenham court station, and there is a short walk to the british museum.
but the 24 did not come.

after the 2nd number 11 came, i decided to take that and it was diverted south of the river instead of its usual route through trafalgar square. It was on that bus that the conductor mentioned the diversion due to the st patrick day march which made me realise why the buses are so late in coming. the number 11 is the new design buses with an open platform which enables u to jump on and off without doors to lock you into the bus.

(a lot of routes now have these types of buses as they gradually replace the old ones. i think their front windows on the top deck are too small, unlike the  ones they replace. )

luckily i know its route and got off when it crossed waterloo bridge and arrived at the aldwych to resume its normal route east to liverpool street. from aldwych i just walked to holborn and thence to the british museum.
it was really crowded in the museum, rather surprising considering it was such a sunny blue sky day and there is the march and stage show in trafalgar square. but i guess the tourists are not interested in the irish festival.
anyway, the group mentioned it will be seeing the chinese galleries, but i could not find the galleries and had to call the organiser, who said actually they are allready finishing and will meet me at the entrance of the museum in 10mins time.

i had a chat with him about the dim sum, and he told me that it came to £13 a head, and there were so many guys he had to take 3tables, and ordered for all.

what he told me was rather interesting in that he said they charged him £1.50 each for the tea. he was rather miffed at that, because it really is a lot, when u consider a pot of tea goes a long way and 2pots can accommodate a whole table of 10.

i was surprised too that the restaurant charged so much for the chinese tea, until i realised that maybe it was a busy sunday what with the st patrick festival attracting a huge crowd to the area. it might not have been a good day to arrange a dim sum lunch.

this group is one for asians-western guys to befriend each other.

long ago there used to be a group called the long yang club, with similar aims, though more to meet others with the possiblility of sex. it organised club nights rather than outings. now it is no more, and only a tiny remnant survived, a group that organises badminton sessions. i often wondered why it went defunct. i hear it is still going strong in paris. but the london branch has gone.

it was really useful to me when i first came to london and started going out on the clubbing scene. it is like a nursery, a safe and easy way to get into the clubbing scene knowing all the guys going there are interested in asians and so there is no danger of being rejected because of your race.

now of course i am a old hand at cruising and sex, so dont need it, but i am grateful for it when i first started.
some might say it is a horrid place pandering to asian stereotypes and is nothing more than predatory guys taking advantage of new comers to the scene. but i dont see it like that at all.

ah well, i guess in those days we never think like that and are just glad to cop off with guys that like us. haha rather than question their motives as to why they like us.

lazy sunday in london

10 Mar


I took the bus to the charing cross library today. This being Sunday, I know the library will be opened all day. It caters to the Chinese , and they have their day off on Sunday and come to Chinatown to socialise and shop.

There was a huge amount of Chinese books spread-out in the library for them to borrow. A long table in the centre of the space full of books. I have never seen so many Chinese books in one place.

I don’t read Chinese or mandarin, so cannot take advantage of it. Though I have to say there is so much variety and good writing in English, I don’t miss not knowing how to read Chinese.

I borrowed terry pratchett’s ‘dodger’. it is a new book, published in 2012. don’t know why they put it in the children’s section.

I do like his books. They are easy to read and he is witty.

Then I went to Leicester square to eat my packed lunch. It is  stir fried Chinese vermicelli with egg. And sat on one of the benches in the square looking at the mirrored boards that covered and hid the central fountain containing the Shakespeare statue. They are renovating it.

There were quotes from Shakespeare’s plays on the boards. The ones I could read where I was sitting were…

‘If music be the food of love, play on’
‘what is in a name, a rose by any other name will smell just as sweet’

Then I went to Chinatown, and bought a reduced Chinese chives from loon moon for £1. They are useful as they have a distinctive flavour that is not possible to replicate with a substitute equivalent. I freeze them. And hope simon do not use them to cook as he does not really know how to use them. Their flavour is so delicate, it can get swamped in western cooking.

I also bought shrimp paste, 454mg for £2.95. 80%shrimps the rest is salt. It lasts me about 4months, the previous one I bought was in november. They are similar to the Malaysian belachan. I find they give a nice flavour to the dishes. This particular brand do not use so much water so that the paste is a dry one.

I small teaspoonful is enough. I use it in stir fry, and in place of the stock cubes. They do give out quite a pungent odour when stir fried. But it is a small price to pay for the lovely flavour they impart to the foods.

I used to cook with dried anchovies, but they got so expensive that I stopped buying them. As for dried shrimps they have become difficult to get now or their price has gone sky high.

To think that those two items were so cheap in Malaysia. Not sure if they are still cheap there now.

I bought 50p worth of bean sprouts too.

Thus I spent my morning.

It is quite cold now, outside, there was at one time a small flurry of snow… very tiny flakes. But wrapped up with a scarf and beanie, and layered clothing, and gloves, it is quite pleasant.

Indoors in my flat it is hovering between 15C and 12C.

Very pleasant actually.

I have been spending the time after I came back home on the internet. The internet is a lovely invention, u can roam the world on it.



wandering around london

10 Jan


Thursday 10.1.13 

I went to ikea again for the free breakfast. Didn’t planned to go today, but I was up by 8am, and thought well I have nothing planned and I do fancy a cooked breakfast, so off I went to catch the tube.

And I know the route very well and got to ikea at about 10.10am.

And afterwards I was at a loose end as to what to do.
I thought of taking the 112 and let it take me to its end destination, brent cross… but the idea of seeing another shopping mall did not appeal to me.

So I took the bus back to the tube station. This time though instead of taking th 112 back to Stonebridge park station, I went to another bus stop where two buses have routes going to harlesden station.

It turned out to be a better station to go to, to catch the train back to central London. More buses ply this route.

I could take it to Lambeth north station where my gym is, but I did not fancy going there just yet. And I was pondering which stop in central London to get off. Well, I wanted to piss, and so remembered there are free public toilets at oxford st, in carnaby st , and in marshall street, near brewer st.

When I arrived at the carnaby st toilet, I saw a turnstile, it seems u have to pay, but there was no sign as to how much.

I was going back up the stairs when a man came down, and I suddenly decided I shall go back and see if I can use it. The turnstile was a bit loose and there was some give which provided a small space to allow me to enter so I did. There was no attendant.

After I finished pissing, I tried to go out and the turnstile refused to budge. The man told me to press a green lighted button and that releases the turnstile. Glad he was there to tell me otherwise I would be lost what to do. I wonder if others have this ignorance of how these public toilets work.

Hmm, I did not realise they are making the carnaby st toilets a paid one. The broadwick st, (at the north end of brewer st), toilets are still free I think.

Added. 27.3.13 found this article that says a private company is running the toilets now. and they have been closing (link) the free toilets and charging 50p for the others. 


Anyway I went to a gay sex shop in soho to get the gay magazines, boyz and qx, which are distributed free and took them to soho square to read them and to eat my snack and chocolate hot drink which I brought from home.

I see in the magazine that nudityclub is having a free charity night, on 11.1.13. Or rather they are asking members to donate £3 for the terrence Higgins trust charity and for non members to pay £5, including a £3 donation.
It is a nice place, where guys can be naked and play and dance naked.

I went last year intending to just pay £5, but got persuaded to buy a £5 annual membership and pay £3 donation. It was not worth being a member as I did not go to any of their subsequent nights. The entry fee for members is a pricey £8 that is why.

So this time if I do go , and that is not certain, I shall just pay the £5 donation.

I went on to Chinatown and bought frozen mackerel 1kg for £3.25. And also they were selling their thai red curry paste. brand name is maesri, 1kg for 50p . Usually they cost £4. I think because the sell by date is 26jan 2013.
Similarly, they have this chinthe Burmese bamboo sooot pickle for 50p. Again because it sell by date is jan2013.

But I don’t mind as actually u can still use it after their sell by date. The shop cannot legally sell it after that date, hence the cheap price. I bought 2. It is a good buy as curry powder250mg is already costing £1.35 now.

I think it makes a good laksa dish eaten with vermicelli, or flat noodles.

Then I decided to return home as I have to put the frozen fish in my freezer, instead of going to the gym as I originally planned.

(my bus was actually waiting at the bus stop with its hazard lights on, so I did not have to wait for the bus, it was waiting for me haha.)

Back home, I went online and saw in one of the blogs I follow, that there is an ice carving exhibition and demonstration in canary wharf from 11jan(tomorrow) and over the weekend.

It sounds interesting, so I shall go to have my breakfast at ikea tomorrow and afterwards I have somewhere to go. I have not been to canary wharf so it would be nice to go there and have a look at the place as well as go see what the ice exhibition is all about.

I sent an email to a friend who lives in Harlesden and ask him whether he might like to join me for breakfast at ikea, if he got a ikea family card, or join me to canary wharf for the ice thing.

It would be more fun to go with a friend I think.

Last night, I got a call from a friend of my friend who lives in poole saying he intends to visit London and ask me if he can stay at my place.

Well, I said he can.

Only later I realise I forgot to tell him that I don’t have my heating on and so he should bring along some warm fleece. Hope he likes cold and not want to have the flat heated up.

I think as long as they don’t want me to heat up my flat for them, I don’t mind them staying here.

I am so used to not having the heat on that I am reluctant to warm it up even for guests. That is why I don’t invite people to stay at my place. They ask, and they can stay as long as they are aware of and accept my no heat policy.

U might say I am a awful host, haha. But I figured that if the guests don’t make too much demands on me I would be more willing to host them again next time. But if they give me a lot of inconvenience or costs, I wont have them next time.

Haha, that is the plain fact of it. Many people might not want to say it so bluntly, but there you are. That is my view. U will be welcome as a guest if u give me the least inconvenience and expense to host you.