‘Positive mind, positive vibes, positive life.’ – What I think I’m trying to say is be positive!
In the heart of the financial district you will find HOP, a concept that delivers authentic food and a relaxed atmosphere for those who need to make a quick food stop. The five fundamental tastes of Vietnamese food come through in each dish’s distinctive flavour. Serving from breakfast through lunch, you’ll find that this Vietnamese street food is a great addition to Square Mile.
In the thrumming midst of lunchtime rush hour you won’t be waiting for too long in the queue and might even find that the seating becomes quickly available. Even though HOP is centred on the concept of ‘Com Binh Dan’ or ‘Working People Food’, you’ll find an array of people circulating in and out of this establishment. From pristine suits to the trickle of style coming from Shoreditch, here’s a popular spot on Square Mile that not only welcomes everyone but is also somewhere you can be at ease.
The service may be quick and efficient but that does not go to say it lacks in warmth or humour. The staff are delightful, honest and truly seem like they’re enjoying their role and the place they work in. Launched on the 15th of June, HOP has already attracted many City workers to its Vietnamese den. The creator of HOP, Paul Hopper, had travelled around Vietnam and was inspired by delectable cuisine he had discovered on his journey. This creative and adventurous appeal has also been extended to the patterned boxes and pots that HOP’s food is served in, including its vibrant, light and welcoming interior.
At HOP you’ll find a great variety of things to pick up and go, whether you’re looking for a filling hot meal, a crunchy and unique salad or small snack pots to treat yourself throughout the day. The Mixed Vietnamese Greens and Herbs (£2.50) is a snack pot with lime and maple dressing that offers a mixture of textures, combining layers of crunchy and soft to your palette. If you’re looking for something a little more filling go for the Lemongrass Chicken (£6.75) which includes coriander, lemongrass, caramelised onions, steamed rice, shredded salad, pickled and green veg. The chicken was tender with a slight chew, and the lemongrass sauce went perfectly with the pickled carrots.
Vegetarians have the option of the Vegetable and Herb Curry (6.50) made of coconut, chilli, turmeric and peanuts. The curry itself wasn’t too spicy and the ingredients offered subtle flavours without overpowering each other. There’s a bit of a theme going on with the salad. Each dish has a similar salad of pickled and green veg with grated carrots. Fans of vermicelli rice noodles will love the salads on offer at HOP. The Garlic Chive Omelette (£6.25) with lime and maple dressing allows for a lot of crunch with your salad by mixing herbs and crispy salad leaves with thin and light noodles.
The sweet pots are a must as every meal deserves a dessert. The Chocolate and Coconut rice pudding pot, which is around £3.25, will put a whole new spin on your taste buds. The ingredients in this sweet pot mingle together in a surprising mix with sharp notes of chilli. It is the perfect remedy for someone with a sweet tooth and you’d have to try it to truly believe it. Use HOP’s lemonade as a refreshing palette cleanser before dipping into something different. Here you also have the option of drinking a few of their special juices. One of the juices includes kiwi and kale, giving you a bounce and boost for your day.
The concept of quick and delicious Vietnamese food for workers has been applied with a lot of thought at HOP, making it a fun environment to eat in. Before you leave make sure you try HOP’s very own Viet Drip Coffee (£2.50), it is a bit like a mocha but sweeter, smoother and a lot tastier.
Head to the depths of East London for the transformation of Bourne & Hollingsworth into Playback: The 90s party. Immerse yourself into the fashion, music and film that lifted the generation and marked the decade as its own. You’ll be able to go back in time at this warehouse venue on the 4th of July.
The true sounds, beats and vibes of the decade will surround you in this ultimate 90s party scene. The party taking place at Hackney’s The Laundry will be decked out with an arcade games room inspired by the era of the Nintendo, dance podiums fit for the very best, and a huge screen showcasing popular 90s classic films of all time.
Start your night at Playback: The 90s Party where you’ll be shown how to flip, throw and mix two popular cocktails- a delicious Pina Colada or Cosmo. For dance enthusiasts there will be time to showcase your skills from sliding to Jamiroquai and vogueing to Madonna, to doing the running man and testing your head banging skills to the best tunes being played. If you’re not too sure what these dance moves are then even better, you can find out and join in on the day for the ultimate 4th of July party.
Whether you’re planning on putting your skills to the test in the games room, shaking your body ‘till the lights come on or exploring the expert cocktails by Bourne & Hollingsworth, the entire night will take you back down memory lane.
Head to 4 Sidworth St for a night to remember and don’t forget to dress the part. That means throwing on your brightest shade of red lip liner, slip dresses, ripped jeans and Adidas tracksuits. You’re set for a night to remember.
Have you heard of THE GRAPHIC GIN OFF? If not then get yourself down to the gin experts in Soho for some tough competition. On the 2nd of June Graphic, a bar hosting ground-breaking urban art, kicked off a three-part gin tournament at number 4 Golden Square.
Some of the best and exciting gin brands turned up for the first day to be allocated their round ‘fixtures’. Imagine the FA Cup, but for gin and much more thirst quenching. The first round of the gin battle kicks off on the 22nd of June, with bar tenders provided by each individual brand who will create a representative cocktail for participants to vote. A few of the brands showcasing their leading gins are Sipsmith London Dry Gin, Elephant Gin, Jameson Gin and Martine Millers.
This summer will show the brands battle it out in Graphic for the number one spot. The semi-final will take place in September where the qualifiers will wow us with their very own cocktail creations. Then you’ve got the heated final taking place in November, where the two remaining brands will have perfected their methods for a fighting chance as the winner.
If you’re a gin lover then Graphic Bar holds hundreds of impressive gin labels, and combines different flavours and tastes to offer you the ultimate gin experience. From an astounding and vibrant menu to prestigious brands and variations of flavour, Graphic Bar has it all.
Hidden away, south of the river, in North Clapham you’ll find Fu Manchu at 15-16 Lendal Terrace. This dim sum and cocktail bar will allow you to be served from inside the belly of Fu Manchu, the famous Chinese master criminal introduced by Sax Rohmer in his early 20th Century cult novels. If you’re looking for a bar scene that will easily smooth into a nightclub then Fu Manchu will be your favourite new addiction.
Once you enter this cave-like setting you’ll find a wall-length bar on your left, but just before that there’s a striking image of the legendary Fu Manchu himself. This artistic piece adds a certain graphic edge to the dramatic setting as the eyes of the master watch your every move. The smell of incense will ignite your desire to get lost in the past of Fu Manchu’s explosive criminal plots.
My favourite piece of furnishing would have to be the golden Buddha hidden away in the corner near some cosy seating. Everything about this setting screams mystery and drama, which is lit up under striking light installation created by Lighting Designer Louisa Smurthwaite. The specific aesthetic pieces dotted around the room aren’t overdone and the exquisiteness is in the small details, such as the subtle candles on every table. The raw brick work finishes off the setting as you revel and dance away under old railway arches.
This joint is perfect for those looking to unwind after work in a friendly but buzzing atmosphere. The vibe can go from chilled to pumped as the DJs take to the turntable, and it also helps that the drinks live up to their namesakes. Each cocktail creation has been inspired by Fu Manchu’s shady associates and elaborate criminal plots. The variety on offer can be overwhelming but when you see how they are created and how skilfully the bar team handle the crowd, you’ll be wanting to try every single one.
My favourite would have to be Yuzu-Zu for £8.50 and Lady Jasmin for £9. Yuzu-Zu is a heady combination of sweet Swedish Cariel Vanilla Vodka, Cointreau, tangy lemon juice, Angostura bitter and magical egg white shaken with yuzu tea paste. Yuzu is a rare citrus fruit from Japan which tastes like a mix of lemon, mandarin and grapefruit. You can taste the burst of these flavours in the Yuzu-Zu but with more of a subtle twist- sweetened by Cointreau and the egg white creating a rich, creamy texture finished off with a beautiful foamy cap.
The most elegant cocktail, named Lady Jasmin, is a floral twist on the classic white lady cocktail. It has been shaken up with sweet Jasmin syrup, Bombay Sapphire gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, egg white and Angostura bitters. The addition of Angostura bitters and Jasmin syrup transforms this cocktail, balancing its flavours and adding new dimension and depth. The egg white in Lady Jasmin gives way to an even foamier and thicker finish than the Yuzu-Zu, garnished with what looks like the petals of a Pansy or a similar flower.
Another cocktail you must try is the Dragon Fruit Palamo, an infusion of Sauza Hacienda tequila, Cocchi Americano Vermouth and lime juice, garnished with a delicious pink and white dragon fruit. For something with more of a kick go for Smith’s Summer Spritz, a combination of Smith’s Spritz mix shaken with lemon and apple juice and fresh lime leaves topped with sparkling prosecco. Fu Manchu’s cocktails are made from Chinese tea infusions, Asian spices and exotic flavours.
To complement their noteworthy cocktail menu is their Dim Sum selection. Take a bite into their steamed or fried savoury dumplings. I’d recommend the Sui Mai, which is a prawn and chicken open dumpling for £4 or the Har Gau for £4.50 which is king prawn dumplings in a sticky translucent skin. Remember to bite into your Dim Sum as soon as it arrives, as the flavour is at its best when heated. Your Dim Sum will arrive in cute wicker baskets to help keep the temperature.
Head down to Fu Manchu every Friday night for the Yao Down Project with Jonathan Bestley and guests who will be bringing you the best in Nu Disco and Deep House until 3am. Every Saturday you’ll be able to loosen up to tech and deep house sets played by resident innovative DJs, Melvo Baptise, Russ Jay and Jedd Burry.
Fu Manchu is the ultimate triple threat, you’ll be eating delicious Dim Sum, drinking inspired and exotically flavoured cocktails, and dancing within what will feel like the villainous master’s very own den shrouded in mystery.
Are you for real this time?
You don’t stick around do you?
Why do you find me when I lose my smile?
Is this your best state of being?
Change, are you my friend?
You seem to come when I most need you.
Change, are you here to hurt me?
You seem to inflict a lot of pain to help me.
Change, you are quite the season,
In between spring, summer, autumn and winter.
You’re a constant always by my side,
I guess you’re my most trying companion.
Change, you are the reason why I keep growing,
Emotionally you know no bounds.
When I ask you if I’ll be alright,
You show me exactly how.
They are jewels and rocks,