By now if you’ve read my blog long enough you’ll know my favourite ramen chain in London is Tonkotsu. This year they are celebrating their 10th anniversary of their founding. As part of the celebrations they have partnered with Anglo Thai chef John Chantarasak to offer a Thai Curry Tonkotsu. The dish, available at all Tonkotsu restaurants from the 8th to 30th of June, features their signature 18-hour pork broth enriched with lardo and a spicy northern Thai curry paste. It’s topped with thin-cut homemade noodles, braised pork belly, pickled mustard greens, spring onion, coriander, a lime wedge, seasoned egg and crispy fried noodles. I tried it yesterday and it was very good. Not too spicy, some really interesting flavours and the crispy noodles added a lovely texture contrast.
When my friend Rup first suggested Sunday lunch at the Gun, I assumed he meant the Gun pub in Canary Wharf which I’d been to many times before and is well known for its excellent Sunday roasts. However turns out he actually meant the Gun in Hackney. I didn’t know this pub, but apparently he’d heard good things. The Sunday lunch is a collaboration with pop up Ling Ling and is an asian fusion Sunday lunch. I ordered the Korean mirror glazed chicken and my friend the char sui pork belly. It came with a sesame Yorkshire pudding, panko breaded carrot and wasabi. It looked good, but what is it with restaurants serving Sunday roasts with the gravy already poured on the plate. I do really prefer a jug of gravy to pour myself. It was all perfectly pleasant, but didn’t exactly blow me away. For pudding they only had one thing on the menu, a white chocolate and matcha tiramisu which sounded delicious, so we both ordered. What arrived didn’t particularly taste much of either white chocolate or matcha, however it was creamy and substantial. No artfully presented, delicate dessert here, a great big wedge of tiramisu dolloped in a bowl and all the better for it. Lunch was pleasant and the company as always great, however I couldn’t help but feel they were trying to shoehorn asian flavours into a Sunday roast, that one wasn’t needed and also two not particularly successfully done. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t rush back.
So often when we live in a city like London we can forget the wonders that are right on our doorstep. While abroad I often take the chance to visit those countries art galleries and museums, I forget that some of the best of these in the world our actual in my own home city. Making a conscience decision that I needed to rectify this I suggested to my friends that we should head to the Tower of London. Not only is this World Heritage site actually in our city, it’s even in our borough, so local in fact that as residents of Tower Hamlets we can visit for just £1. Anyway we all took the Friday off work and headed to Tower Hill with our proof of addresses and local library cards.
After buying our tickets we walked through the main gate and waited on the bridge over the moat and on the advice of the ticket office waited for one of the regular tours that start from there every half an hour. The completely free tours are led by one of the famous tower beefeaters and take about 45 minutes. The tour only covers the outside of the tower complex, but gives a really good overview of the various buildings and the beefeaters are excellent guides and drop in lots of jokes and fun facts along the way. This leaves you to explore the insides of the various buildings by yourselves. The main building is the White Tower, which although famous as being a jail was actually a royal palace for over 500 years,
Tower of London
The other main building is of course the Jewel House that houses all the Crown Jewels. This building is completely windowless (I imagine for security reasons) and also included the coronation robes. Annoyingly no photography is allowed, though I did manage to catch a sneaky shot of the imperial state crown when one of the guards wasn’t looking! I asked why no photography was allowed, but was told if I wanted a picture I could buy a postcard in the gift shop, which I thought was a tad rude. The main jewels are located in glass cabinets with travelators each side like you get at large airports. I assume this is to stop overcrowding and encourage people not to dawdle, but it was hardly necessary on the day we visited as it really wasn’t that crowded.
Afterwards we went to the small Chapel Royal of St Peter next door where some of the VIPs were buried after their executions, including three Queens of England, Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey.
We finished off our tour by walking around all the battlements walls of the Tower and admiring all the stunning views of the City of London and Tower Bridge that they provided. We then exited on to the riverside and walked across Tower Bridge to the Ivy Market Grill at One Tower Bridge for a late lunch.
Ravens at Tower of London
I’d been wanting to see Pete Tong and the Heritage orchestra perform ever since I watched the original Ibiza Classics do the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall on TV all the way back in 2006. I never get organised enough to get tickets though and they always usually sell out. Anyway I finally got myself organised this year and I think because of the pandemic this year they for once didn’t sell out. I bought tickets for myself and my neighbour Adam. I got a bit confused with the times so we ended up being super early for the concert, which was not all bad as we got a really good position really near the front of the stage. The concert was great, the staging and lighting was particularly brilliant. Special guests we had performing included Becky Hill and randomly Rick Astley. I do have to complain about the bar though, the only beer they serve is Budweiser, which I hadn’t had in years and on drinking I remembered why, awful, almost undrinkable. I very quickly moved on to gin and tonics. Also the speed of the bar staff was embarrassing, it’s like they’d never worked a bar before, they were so slow and consequently there was massive queues so I missed a significant part of the concert waiting in line for drinks. Not impressed, sort it out please O2, it’s really not good enough. Fantastic concert though.
My neighbour Adam invited me to this one night only gay Oktoberfest special event, which rather randomly actually took place at the beginning of November, rather than in October. He’d been before and insisted that we all dress in traditional German lederhosen gear and well I love fancy dress so how could I refuse? I ordered the whole lot off Amazon for around £30. Unfortunately I was running late so had to head to the delights of Canada Water where the event was held on the tube in full garb all on my own, so got quite a few strange looks and how fun it was to be in just shorts and a thin cotton shirt on a very cold November night. The venue is a few minutes walk from Canada Water tube, around the side of the dock in a massive converted modern warehouse and after downloading my ticket I met my friends inside. This being Oktoberfest we expected a large selection of beer to be on offer. However they seemingly only has one beer left and it was awful! I generally can drink pretty much everything, but this beer was genuinely disgusting. We all thought the same, we tried mixing it with lemonade to make it less bitter, but in the end we just had to hold our noses and chug it. Not very impressed. Anyway we very quickly moved on to gin and tonics which were thankfully much better. The drag queens and other entertainment they had laid on was great and we had a fantastic time, despite the terrible beer. Just all very odd that a beer festival would screw up the beer which one would think was pretty key and also quite easy to order more.