Travel Magazine

Serving It Up... Seriously Soho: London, England!

By Joseph Harrison @JTAH_1990

100%, there will always be love for London's Soho without question! Not just famed for the red lanterns of Chinatown, this West End/Theatreland District has my whole beating heart! From the Muscle Mary's and Disco Divas, the Gay mecca of Soho always has my eyes wandering with a thirst for a drink! Back, back and back again, 2022 had me returning triumphantly! You betcha! 

Serving It Up... Seriously Soho: London, England!

Turning the corner from the Sun Tavern had me back in Soho, now a queen always knows when she's back in her part of town! A part of London that always had me looking twice, even from being a child there was always something exciting about walking along Brewer Street or down Old Compton Street as well. Covent Garden was in the past, Soho was the moment during that part of my jam-packed London day! Gentrification is a bad witch but from where I stood along Old Compton Street sure looked just the same! A drink? That would happen, yes it would! I did notice a certain establishment had diversified, let me keep it simple, a visit will be scheduled during the next visit to London's Soho! You couldn't handle the truth, absolutely not! Unfortunately there would only be time to frequent one venue in Soho during that Saturday, 'Duke of Wellington' best believe that I'll be back soon for a beverage or five! The Admiral, who? Choosing the 'Admiral Duncan' was the mood, with lunchtime approaching I couldn't be picky! 

Trading since 1832 along London's Old Compton Street, it was a no brainer for me to have a drink at the Admiral Duncan! Known as a firm favorite within Soho's longstanding Gay venues, I had to pay my dues to the old high queen herself! Definitely I felt a sense of New York City's own 'Stonewall Inn' as I sipped my pint of cider, sure this venue has seen its fair share of historical battles from Italian Gang dealings to being bombed in the 90s! With London not being in my life since 2017, a visit to at least one venue within Soho had to be changed! Hearing those camp conversations made me laugh to myself, now those queens spilled their everyday truth with no second thought. Soho, being the afternoon things were quiet but with the stage set for the evening ahead with neon lights spelling 'Admiral Duncan', I did feel a bit gutted no night-out was on the cards! Such is life, the drink was nice and being in that environment definitely didn't disappoint. Onto another part of Soho had to be, timekeeping had to be observed! 饿了吧? 对啊! 

Serving It Up... Seriously Soho: London, England!

你看到麦高田街了吗? 没错, 我看到了伦敦中国城! Yes, I did catch a glimpse at that street sign on the corner of Gerrard and Macclesfield Streets. Returning to another China Town, well I have to get my fix since the Mainland's border remains locked tight! The Chinese within London's legendary China Town had me looking all confused because I couldn't read those signs for the life of me! 对不起, 我看不懂! It's 简化字 or nothing! Other than that brief period of confusion I was back in another familiar Soho setting! Food was definitely on the agenda but I wanted to grab a drink from 'CoCo' because I hadn't seen that bubble tea logo for a hot minute, literally it was like a 'Wuhan' blast from the past! Oh, that bubble tea nostalgia came flooding back in an instance! Feeling all the feels, it was evident that the only masks that were being worn were along Gerrard Street. I get their reasons behind wearing those face masks but the 'fear factor' was evident. Hey, if it makes them feel safe then I am in no place to judge their choices. 戴口罩! 

The signs that were all around had me reading their Chinese characters with much excitement, Birmingham has a great '中国城' but London brings an old school energy that could Brum's could never compete with! Yes, those red Chinese lanterns had me reminded of 'River Medway's 'Ex-Penny Henny' Chinese Wedding Dress look because she had posed for some photos along Gerrard Street! From RuPaul's Drag Race UK, S3 on the streets of Soho! I do think! No question, that 'runway' look will always be fierce in my eyes! Like those Soho streets around the Gay bars, the same curiosity took over me during those visits to China Town. Making a wish as I walked along Gerrard Street was very necessary because I have full confidence something good is going to happen soon enough! Yes, I was getting hungry! Lunch would happen and I had already decided where that would be. Bubble tea, that milky drink would cross my path but that wouldn't be until much later, it would taste even better! Would it though? 伦敦中国城, 感谢你! 

Serving It Up... Seriously Soho: London, England!

New Loon Moon Supermarket had me looking for that sweet escape, remembering those Chinese Mainland snacks that I used to enjoy had me missing 我以前的海外家, yes my former overseas home! A Choco Pie? No, they were always called 'Orion Pie' in China but after closer inspection of the box I resided to the fact, it was the same product! In Birmingham's China Town, I had found the same Hawthorn sweets but I wanted to taste them again because it had been almost a year! After translating the English word for '山楂糖' in the Chinese language the shop-worker had me in the right direction! Bagged and ready to go I saw one more thing, those sandwich style crackers with cheese in the middle had caught my eye, I just couldn't say no! I wasn't going to deny myself that treat! Descending back to the ground floor to pay at the check-out had me looking for one more product! VitaSoy milk? Yes, from Hong Kong! Of course, I had to have them! Out of practice, I eventually understood the Chinese for 3.99! I'm out of practice! 

Before heading to the Criterion Theatre for 'Death Drop' it was time to eat at 旺記 (Wong Kei). Once known as London's 'rudest' restaurant, that no nonsense style of service suited me just fine because I wasn't looking to spend a tonne of money on my Cantonese lunch! Having a selection of choices from the menu allowed me to keep it 'Sweet & Sour' with a bit of 'Tofu' for my nerve and some 'Beef Noodles' to finish. Being a 'cash only' operation had me running to the huge queue, the one and only ATM at HSBC's China Town branch had me waiting for my turn. The food was delicious, the service was uncomplicated and the staff weren't unpleasant at all! Being back within London's China Town had me feeling closer to China, each visit to London has to be set around ample time being spent in Soho! Bubble Tea or not? Yes, upon returning to Gerrard Street the line for 'CoCo' was ridiculously long! It had to be 'Chatime!' 多少钱? 为什么这么贵!? Regardless of the price, it was the experience for what I didn't have any complaints! Oh, Soho! 

Sure, Soho Served! 

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