I am a bit of a nerd but I do class my recent day out in the London as one of my best ever in our capital. Coffee, books, theatre and dumplings all equal a very happy Michelle.
It all started because I’m a big fan of James Norton. Yes he’s handsome I won’t deny, but I genuinely think he’s an awesome actor. So when I saw he was in a pop-up theatre production of Bug, I seized the day (and a credit card) and booked two tickets. It didn’t occur to me at the time but I didn’t have to choose seats. And therein lies the magic of Found111. This production company have used a previous School of Art creative space to house their pop-up theatre, and have some of the most creative staging I’ve ever seen. I use “staging” loosely because effectively there is no stage. You are literally in the room with the actors. I can sometimes find theatre productions a little cringey if I’m honest. But not Bug. The play itself was gruesome, gritty and totally utterly absorbing. About as far from cringey as you could get. The flawless performances of the four actors were just incredible. The pitch, tone and diction of their southern drawl accents didn’t falter and the whole audience were totally invested in their story. When James Norton – mid psychosis – darted his head to look accross the room, so did the whole audience. And even at the end, I still had questions about the characters and the story line. I wanted more.
Animated and still thinking about the play, we wandered back onto Charing Cross Road. The production space is right next to Foyles, a book store I’d neither visited nor heard of. But I love a book shop. The textures, colours and images of the books covers that hide magical/happy/sad/scary/thrilling stories, is just magical to me. I’m not a great nor a fast reader, but my love affair with books grows infinitely. An unread book, brand new and shiny is alluring because it holds a story – or print – no one has ever read before. But then a well thumbed classic means that others have shared and enjoyed the secret too and you are part of the “club” who have experienced something special. Or maybe not special, maybe its absolute rubbish which becomes a discussion point about how much you hate it. Either way I love books. Anyway, after wandering round for Foyles for over an hour, I was quite restrained and bought a novel and a little light for reading in the dark. (Cute by the way and works great!)
As we were right next door to China town, it made sense to sneak in some dim sum to appease my new dumpling obsession. Initiated by the totally brilliant Lizzie Mabbot (or Hollow Legs as she’s more commonly recognised on social media), I decided to tweet and ask for restaurant recommendations. To my shock and awe, she very kindly obliged. However as we started to wander towards the location, we literally just happened upon Tonkotsu. Now this pace had been on my hit list for months but as you can’t make a reservation, the chances of getting in when you want to is well, fair to crap. This is obviously because it is so bloomin’ awesome, but the Japanese gods must have been smiling on us that day because we walked in and were seated instantly. Whether it was pure luck or my inane grinning that scared that waitress into seating us so quickly I’m not sure, but either way I was overjoyed! We had squid, crab croquettes and two types of Gyoza – Pork and Shitake mushroom. The dough on the gyoza was so thin it was almost translucent, they had the most perfectly crisp bottoms for texture and both fillings were immense. But what made it super special was the “Eat all the bits” chilli oil which was actually more of a chilli jam. Packed with chillies (obvs), garlic, red miso, sesame, soy and loads of other lovely stuff, it’s not over poweringly hot but spicy and flavoursome. So good in fact, I had to buy a jar to bring home for Paul. According to the jar you can spoon it over rice, noodles or pasta, use it as a marinade or add to stir frys and stews to give “a little tokyo street kick”. Best guess, I’ll be trying all those tips!!