Chance Encounter

A chance of bumping into something intriguing increases dramatically if I am on foot, moving through London in a slower pace.

And I came across a pub with a lovely name the other day…

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“The Blacksmith & The Toffee Maker”
It’s a bit hard to imagine what connection they have with each other.
Still, sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

Then, I discovered this wall…

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Words overlay on top of another, creating a fascinating illusion of the depth on the wall.
I could read the words, “Cures Wounds Sores”. Were they advertising any medicine?
Anyway, it was a great wisdom that the owner of the wall decided not to white-wash over them.
I can’t wait to find what gem awaits me next time I am walking through the city…

BTW, I found Mr.B tangled up with a chair leg this morning.

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While I was washing my hands, he walked around the chair more than once…
And hey presto, he is stuck.
How silly you are. But I love your silliness nonetheless…

Shoryu @ Lower Regent St

Hubbie doesn’t like noodle, especially, noodle soups.
His reasoning is that he makes a mess with chopsticks and a slippery noodle.
“Practice makes perfect” is my advice. But he is adamant that there are better things to do in life. C’est la vie…

Therefore, when an acute noodle craving plagues me, the person I turn to is not Hubbie but my good old friend, Fei.

There are more than a few noodle bars in London nowadays, thanks to the Ramen boom in NYC which has leaped across the Pond and ignited a lively interest in this particular Japanese cuisine.
Ramen always existed within the menu of Japanese restaurants in London. However, it was just as one dish amongst many, never featured or specialised.
Then, the hype took hold of the city, and Ittenbari on Brewer St, Tonkotsu on Dean St, Bone Daddies on Peter St…etc, sprouted with a vigour in a very short space of time.

Shoryu, where we visited on that fateful Wednesday, was one of those Ramen boomers.
My apology for not having any images of the interior. The restaurant was already full of diners and I found rather awkward to point my iPhone at them.

We ordered a starter each and shared them.
Gyoza dumplings…

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& Tori no karaage – Japanese style fried chicken…

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Both of them were perfectly ok.
We found the fried chicken especially  moreish.
The accompanying Japanese style mayonnaise had a sprinkle of Ichimi chilli pepper which added a kick to those crispy and succulent morsels.
To be an extra critical, I found the Gyoza a tad on the thin side.
The skin lacked the texture and the filling was a little bland. They could do better than this, I thought.

Here comes the piéce de resistance, my Kara Tantan Tonkotsu ramen!
It had spicy fried minced pork topping with miso flavoured soup…

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The soup was flavoursome without being too sharp.
The miso’s saltiness was moderated by the rich flavour of Tonkotsu – pork based broth.
When it comes down to the noodle itself, I am not a ramen connoisseur, therefore I cannot evaluate it properly.
The texture of the noodle was just right for me, not too soft nor too hard. Comparing with the papery yellow strings I encountered in Chinatown, Shoryu’s noodle was in a different league. That was for sure.
My verdict regarding Shoryu was a 5 out of 5. The service was swift and pleasant. And the atmosphere was lively and comfortable. I will definitely visit them again.

After dinner, we sauntered towards Piccadilly.
The air was balmy and everything looked perfect. I did not have a care in the world.
We sat outside at Cafe Concerto and marvelled at the beauty of London summer…

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It was more than a month since we met each other last time.
So we carried on chatting over Black Forest gateau & latte.

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Then, a tragedy struck. I discovered that my wallet was no longer there in my bag!
The frantic fingers rummaged through the inside in vain. But alas, no success. How could this happen?!  I was dumbfounded.
The rest of this sorry saga is logged in my past entry. Please read it if you care.
It was last Wednesday and I have since recovered.
I have ordered three mean looking wallet chains which I intend to attach to each bag.
Pickpockets will have a nasty surprise next time they pounce on me…

Hokkaido Highway Blues

A blue-sky day is gone.
It’s replaced by uneven tone of grey.
Finally, this unusually “summery” summer has come to the end?
I hope not.
It’s nearly 6pm and I am wondering how tomorrow’s weather will be like…

We had our brunch at Shepherdess.
Instead of my customary Early Bird (egg, tomato, chips, toast & sausage), I ordered Egg Benedict.
First of all, a cup of builders tea minus sugar.
A quote from Wikipedia – Builders tea is an English colloquial term for the sort of strong, inexpensive tea drunk by construction workers taking a break. The term is used to differentiate from other servings of tea, as it is usually both brewed strongly and served in a mug (as opposed to being brewed in a teapot) milky with two (or more in some cases) teaspoons of sugar.
Mmmm… We need more milk. So we asked a small pitcher of milk…

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Here comes my Egg Benedict!
Hubbie was mightily jealous of me. Well, it was his fault that he decided to stick to the usual…

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Nothing was wrong with their cooking but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected.
I found the bacon extremely salty. Oh well, I will order my egg Benedict without bacon next time.
Otherwise it was great.

After brunch, Hubbie headed to the office, and I decided to spend my afternoon in the sun.
The place I spread a picnic blanket this time was Gordon Square near UCL.
I used to come here often when I was a student at the Bartlett…

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One of the great things about London is being able to relax in numerous public spaces like Gordon Square. It’s dotted all around Central London and most of them are well maintained and open to general public.

I read “Hokkaido Highway Blues – Hitchhiking in Japan” by Will Ferguson while topping up a tan on my legs…

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I must say his depiction of Japan was dead-on accurate as well as funny.
It was very hard to suppress a giggle when I was reading one of the episodes that he hitchhiked a police car by mistake and got arrested.
Anyway, please read it. I shouldn’t spoil the fun any further by spilling more beans.
One thing I can say is that there is alway something interesting when it is observed by a fresh pair of eyes…

Never Get On

It was a fleeting visit to Paris, lasting only a half day.
I was there to see my old friend and to pick up a Vanessa Bruno leather tote bag which she kept it for me since March. The bag was adorned with studs, not with sequins and very hard to come by in UK.

The people who read my past entries know that I and Paris is not a match made in heaven.
I deleted them eventually because I wanted to move forward. Otherwise, it would keep  me bitter and I never wanted that, so I reasoned.
You see, some experience is better forgotten, like stepping on a dog sh*t. Just scrape it off at the nearest curbstone and walk away.

My day trip to Paris kicked off not so auspiciously.
I was kept awake until early hours by my neighbour’s huskie which decided to be a cry baby, barking non-stop. Why tonight?! I have to SLEEP!
It was like Chinese water torture. In the end, I scooped up my bedding and evacuated to the day bed in the living room. I was too annoyed to go back to a full sleep by then, only managed to grab less than a few hours of dozing off.  *SIGH*

At St.Pancras International, I bought a large latte and slumped on the stool by the escalator. All other seatings were taken up by families with suitcases and fold-alls.
The departure lounge was very busy. I was looking at scenery, feeling dazed and tired. Oh dear, what a way to start a day…

Graffiti greets you when Eurostar approaches Gare du Nord.

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The passengers started to manoeuvre towards the exit and I followed the suit.

Gare du Nord was busy…

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It was packed with the people carrying luggage.
The exodus for vacances has started already?

My friend asked me to wait for her at  Saint-Philippe du-Roule…

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I arrived there too early and had to wait for half an hour on the platform.
Why does Paris Metro have a smell of urine everywhere? And not very well-lit either. I infinitely prefer our London counterpart…

She arrived shortly after 12:30 and we walked to Kiyomizu on rue Saint Philippe du Roule.
I had been craving for Unagi no Kabayaki – Grilled eel – for sometimes. So I was determined to eat it when I was with her.
Here comes my lunch!

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Unaju came in a bento box, accompanied by a bowl of miso soup and a small dish of Japanese pickles.

The eel tasted fine but the rice let me down.
For any Japanese rice dish, it is imperative that the rice is STICKY. Otherwise, the sauce which seeps into the rice disintegrates and separates them and spoils the whole “Fluffy rice with flavour”experience.
What a shame…

After lunch, we moved on to Marais district.

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We were so thankful that it wasn’t as hot as the recent days in Paris.
The wind was light and the sun wasn’t as relentless.
The first shop we visited was Merci on Boulevard Beaumarchais…

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Here I am! Go away fatigue!!

We went inside…

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A life style shop? Is it called nowadays?
They were selling well-selected items which wouldn’t break a bank.

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Then, we moved on to Ostentatoire on rue de Torenne…

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The shop was filled with works by local up & coming jewellery designers.
They were cute  and some of them were very original too.

Ahhh! I’ve found a chihuahua in Paris!

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It was on a biscuit tin.
By the way, I never see Chihuahuas in Paris. How strange.
When I took Mr.B to Paris years ago, we were stopped constantly by the passerby who wanted to know what he was!

The next shop we visited was The Broken Arm on rue Perrée…

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Maybe it was to do with nearing to the end of summer sale and also an imminent vanaces season, the shop floor seemed to be rather sparse.
Rather crest fallen, we retreated to an adjacent cafe for refreshment.
It’s too hot for coffee! So, we ordered a large bottle of sparkling water.
Let’s have our reunion picture!

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She is the only reason I keep on coming back to Paris. She is a gem.

Invigorated by cold water, we headed to Meet on rue Elzevir.

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They produce the sweets which originally  conceived in Lille in the 18th century.
Their Gaufre (Waffle) is her husband’s favourite. So she wanted to take it home.

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Sadly, Hubbie was not keen on sweets much. So, I went home, empty-handed.

We walked along Boulevard des Filles Calvaire…

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After negotiating through those narrow streets of Marais, it was refreshing to stroll on a much wider pavement.

I know this character but not its name. Does anyone know?

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We bade farewell at the concourse of Gare du Nord.
It was great to see each other again. Even though English Channel separates us, we shall carry on nourishing our friendship through Facebook.

Once the train came out the Channel Tunnel, the order of announcement switched back to English followed by French which made me feel very at home…

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My return journey was riddled with minor unpleasantnesses though.
I encountered a haughty and arrogant French woman as well as a grumpy and rude Indian woman at the departure lounge. Plus, some one near my seat loudly snored and broke wind constantly throughout my journey. Oh, it was just another nail in the coffin…

P.S. This is the bag I brought back from Paris. Cool huh?

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