Opium Dim Sum & Cocktail Parlour
Yes you read the blog title correctly, “Fermented Pandas” are indeed on the menu in Chinatown. They’re delectable, addicting and dangerous. Once you’ve had one, you will want to indulge in more, until you arrive at the realisation that they are indeed quite potent, and maybe you should have called it a day whilst on the third fermented panda!
Fermented Panda in the blue and white china cup
I hope by now you have realised that I am not talking about some form of inhumane animal cruelty and that I am in fact talking about one of the many glorious cocktails you can enjoy at ‘Opium Cocktail Bar & Dim Sum Parlour’ on Gerrard Street.
‘Fermented Pandas’ wont be on the bar menu you are given, however, if you make a request to one of the bar staff then they should be able to whip one up for you, I would recommend doing so. The cocktails at Opium are concocted in such a way that they are refreshing and palatable, whilst slowly creeping up on you until you realise you are definitely receiving your money’s worth.
Once the night starts to reach this point, there is a further room that you can move to (away from the main room and bar) that includes a more comfortable seating area, befitting for relaxing with your cocktail.
A selection of wine, ‘Mysterious Yam Sing’ shots & ‘Devil Doctors’ at Opium
Whilst serving many “oriental” themed cocktails (£11-£15), unique to Opium, they also serve the classics (starting at £10.50). I would recommend The Devil Doctor (£13.50) if you’re feeling adventurous and fancy your chances with absinthe!
The Devil Doctor
Take a peak at the website www.opiumchinatown.com
If you want to visit: 16 Gerrard St, London W1D 6JE (look out for the hidden door, a friendly bouncer should be there to greet you)
Every time I’ve ventured to Chinatown, I’ve ended up succumbing to the alluring atmosphere, where sometimes you actually feel like you’re in your own little world, full of low-lit hidden bars and cheap & appetising restaurants that stay open very late. If you’re wondering what to do on a Friday or Saturday, I would recommend heading over to Chinatown for early evening drinks, working up an appetite and then gorging on mouthwatering oriental cuisine. Chinatown is undeniably more worth a visit on a bustling weekend, rather than a quiet week-day night. If you’re on a budget, then on top of the cocktail bars such as Opium or Experimental Cocktail Club, there are also many pub’s (such as O’Neil’s) that can get incredibly lively.
Old Town 97
As you may have guessed from my previous description of an ideal night in Chinatown, I have usually headed for food (bar a few occasions) in the very late hours of the evening after finishing off a few cocktails first. Old Town 97 is one restaurant that does stay open very late (opening hours are 10am-4am) The menu at Old Town 97 is extensive, you may find yourself debating over dishes for a very long time if you’re a Chinese food fanatic like myself. However, if you’re heading here with one other person I would highly recommend Set Menu B (£16.80 for 2 people) that includes dishes such as peking duck, crispy shredded beef, gyoza, stir fried chicken, stir fried pak choi and egg fried rice. I used to be incredibly apprehensive when it came to set menu’s, however this food has left me incredibly tempted to ask for a doggy bag to take home every time – it’s just delicious.
The full menu can be seen here on Zomato
If you are a wine lover and this habitually determines which restaurant you choose I wouldn’t hold your hopes up in that department as the choice is slightly limited, not a Sauvignon Blanc or Malbec in sight. However, if you’re happy to settle for the house wine then this won’t be a problem.
I headed here for a casual and fun evening after a day of traipsing around London with my parents when they came to visit. The service has always been friendly and fast. However, my Dad sparked up a conversation with a member of staff and he received some slightly special treatment. The friendly waiter offered to make up a Sambal for our main course, on the house. For anyone who is unfamiliar with Sambal, it’s an Indonesian sauce that traditionally includes ingredients such as; chilli peppers, shrimp paste, fish sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar, lime and vinegar, amongst others. Beware, it’s usually incredibly spicy. The Sambal that was prepared for us was to die for, especially if you’re a lover of flavour. All in all, Old Town 97 has consistently provided me with one of the tastiest and most generous Chinese meals I have eaten, trust me I’ve eaten some bad ones (slimy chicken, greasy spring rolls and over-battered beef are not to be found in Old Town 97).
If you want to visit: 19 Wardour Street, Chinatown, London, W1D 6PN