Chinese Arts in the UK 2019

Chinese New Year is becoming one of few times of the year when the world takes an interest in Chinese culture. Whilst I have always considered this a good starting point, there is so much more to China beyond Spring Festival. Like all live cultures, Chinese culture is developing organically every second, having sprouted thick branches across different regions within China, and new branches in different communities around the world. Over the last decade or so, China is increasingly featuring in not just current affairs, but in the arts around the UK. Media that present an overview of these events from different parts of the country, through the year, is much harder to come by. So this year, I have curated my own selection, not only for China-enthusiasts, but for anyone who is interested, curious, or just fancies a little different. I hope you will find it useful.


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Bao: A Review

After the delays due to the World Cup, I am very happy to see “Incredibles 2” released at last. The major reason for my anticipation for seeing this film in the cinema, is the short preceding the main feature, “Bao”, the first Pixar production with a female director, and one of Chinese heritage, no less. Needless to say, my expectations were high, and this adorable work has met them.


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Hakkasan, Hanway Place

Being a purist and a classicist, I have stayed away from “fusion” cuisines in the past, having previously been unimpressed by certain Asian specimens of these in London. However, with the opening of Shikumen, now one of my favourite places for Dim Sums in this city, I became more convinced that Chinese cuisine could be reinterpreted and modernized without losing its essence. I decided to try Hakkasan, Hanway Place at last, with a friend.


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Hot Pot!

As we settle into autumn and those first chills in the air make us long for snug jumpers and steaming hot soup, it’s the perfect season for hot pot. 火锅 Huo Guo or Hot Pot is a Chinese cuisine whereby thin slices of food is cooked very quickly in boiling hot soup and consumed simultaneously during the act of cooking. It’s warming in the winter, a very social way of eating to be enjoyed slowly, offers an effective way of detoxing in hot and humid weather, and a great way of sweat out those germs in the system if you’ve caught a winter bug.


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Jian Bing Guo Zi

It has been lovely to hear about Brian Goldberg, who studied in Beijing in his youth and had grown to love the Jianbing so much that he spent almost 14 years studying the art of making this delicious pancake breakfast, and now brings it to the public on the streets of NYC, offering adaptations of the dish with more filling that are great for lunch or dinner. Let me tell you a little about the origins of the Jianbing.


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8 Festive Dishes and 8 Festive Traditions of Chinese New Year

If you’re reading this you probably already know about Chinese New Year, so I won’t spoil the festive occasion with too much scholarly detail. 8 is the lucky number in China so here are 8 festive foods and 8 festive traditions for Spring Festival. Since CNY is as big as Christmas and China is vast, every region has its variation of customs. Having a northern mother and southern father, mine will be a mixture of northern and southern broadly speaking, leaning towards southern because that’s where I spent my childhood.


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Shikumen

I select restaurants to review for various reasons. Reccomendations, publicity, invite, occasionally just simple coincidence. We came across Shikumen due to a huge advert in London’s free morning paper. With an enticing dim sum menu, and a website littered with Shangai calendar pics, we thought it would be worth a trip to their Ealing branch.


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Bo Lang

When I first came across the restaurant Bo Lang, I knew I’d be reviewing it, and after meeting with a rather prestigious tea merchant in Belgravia, I had the chance to visit.


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Moon Cakes

Tiny sticky cakes with a salted egg yolk in the middle. Sounds tasty, no?
One baked lotus seed paste mooncake with one egg yolk weighs about 180 g, has 790 calories, and contains 45 g of fat, so they taste good, but aren’t so good for your figure, unless you want to end up looking like the autumn moon!


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Sweet & Sour

Frequently, conversing with my Western friends about Chinese food, I hear the old line that “the Chinese don’t eat desserts” wheeled out. The only thing they can really point to is the toffee apples and toffee bananas, which a lot of restaurants over here offer. This is a misconception worth correcting.


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