Last night I finally managed to see the much talked about Lion King at The Lyceum Theatre. The story should be pretty well known since it follows almost exactly the story of the original movie and is filled with the same rich music. The highlights for me included the amazing costumes and devices they employ to help the production including the elephant and giraffe costumes, the lion and hyena masks, and finally the Zazu bird puppet. Almost every part of this musical impressed me except for a few small parts that I thought the director over indulged in their “abstract” interpretation but I still highly recommend seeing it. The songs are moving, the characters bright and colourful and is a fantastic conversion from an animated film to a live performance on stage.
TheKua.com Rating: 8 out of 10
Like most cities that are cold enough to have outdoor ice skating rinks (unlike Brisbane), every year London sets up ten or so different ice rinks in various locations with the most popular including the Tower of London, Somerset House and the one situated in front of the Natural History Museum. Each session is limited to an hour, and even though they operate from early in the morning until 10 at night, with the sheer amount of people in London it can be quite hard getting tickets the week you want to go. Yesterday I ended up going ice skating at the rink situated in Greenwich, a perfect location smack bang in the middle of the Royal Navy Academy.
Everyone’s ice skating boots are blue, shiny and look extremely new and even have a little bit more of an edge than other places I’ve been to, but like most hard shelled boots can still cause a little discomfort. The ice skating rinks are not the biggest in the world, so really the most dangerous things you have to be aware of are the other ice skaters.
Our session was not as packed out as it could have been, but you certainly had the regular types of skaters in attendance including The Moving Wall (a series of people linked by the hands ready to take anyone out in their way), The Centipede (a line of people behind one another with one person who can actually skate dragging everyone else along), The Indestructible Child ( that kid that keeps falling over but just gets back up over and over again, this time even equipped with a helmet), and The Ice Walkers (those people that don’t go anywhere fast but there’s plenty of leg movement).
Outdoor ice skating rinks are fantastic when its cold and Christmas music pipes through the air. It is a completely different experience and even if you can’t skate, it’s quite something to stand amongst everyone and just take in your surroundings (while having a good laugh at yourself). I think I wouldn’t mind trying one of the other ice skating rinks if I can manage to get a ticket.
In May this year, Jamie Hewlett, co-creator of virtual band Gorillaz won the ‘Designer of the Year Award’. While refurbishment of Royal Festival Hall is underway, an exhibition showing a mural of his band’s characters is up until February 2007. The series is not large but some of the artwork is nicely detailed and quite large.
If you’re in London I suggest taking a look if you’re in the area, or check the rest of them out here.
The Case: A late night in town
Date: November 9, 2006
Location: Little Italy, 21 Frith St, London, W1D 4RN
Synopsis: Run by the owners of the chic Bar Italia, this modernised Italian bar fronts a classy multi-tiered restaurant serving delicately presented Italian food. The wait staff buzzed around, talking surprisingly quietly to each other in Italian while the three excessively attentive bar tenders execute orders with amazing precision and speed. In contrast, the ladies next to us at the bar leisurely work their way through a couple of bottles of champagne and indulge in the bowls of free olives that sit at the bar. As per the He Who Knows Challenge, we ordered a round of Long Island Ice Teas that arrived in a flash. These versions are slick, served in the proper rounded tall glass and had the perfect balance between being smooth and tasty (as well as toxic). The result was a drink that needed no help and slid down the throat far too quickly.
Atmosphere:Attracting a little bit more of an older crowd, and a certainly better dressed crowd than most other bars I’ve been to, the brightly polished wooden floors and sharp lights set the perfect mood lighting. The elegant dining areas on the multiple floors are filled with white table-clothed tables set perfectly with fine cutlery and glass sets that look like they’re waiting for a fine three course meal to be consumed.
Conclusion: A place that certainly wasn’t getting any emptier as the night wears on and proud to declare their commitment to late nights by keeping open until 6am until Christmas, this place is a great place for drinking some fine drinks at equally fine prices in a quality atmosphere.
On Tuesday, my team and I finished our second and final phase of my current project, so what better way to celebrate with the customer than by visiting the Absolut Ice Bar? The inside ice bar looks like a very trendy freezer maintaining a cool -5 degrees Celsius and loaded with various furniture and sculptures all made of ice. The drink concoctions are created out of Absolut vodka and more colourful liqueurs and dispensed to you in large glasses also made of ice. Thankfully it’s easy to stay in the cold for the limited session of 40 minutes since you’re given a warm furry poncho-like coat equipped with a gloves and a warm hood.
The outside bar is as trendy as the actual ice bar, equipped with modern decor and funkily lit tables. Their drinks menu offers a limited selection of beers but makes up for it with its extensive range of spirits, martini and cocktail mixtures all at equally trendy London prices. We had a fantastic night out on the town and though it’s not an every weekend experience, I think the Ice Bar has a lot going for it.
Someone asked me a while back to do a comparative review of Wagamama’s to the one back in Brisbane, so here goes. Wag’s is a bit of an institution over here in London with 23 locations in Central London, many more in Greater London and numerous stores opening overseas. The concept is simple – modernised, fast and efficient Japanese food you eat at benches you may share with other people. Attendants beam your orders wirelessly to the kitchen, scribbling down numbers on some paper placemats and food comes out as soon as it’s cooked, so you may get your main meal before your side dish.
There are subtle differences to the ones over here compared to my memories of the one at The Emporium in Brisbane. I think the dishes on offer do not greatly differ, but I think prices are comparatively more reasonable here in London – I think you’ll pay about the same price for a meal at many other places. Queues here at some of the more central ones are bound to be long if you go anytime after 7. Surprisingly many of them are very close to each other, so if the Covent Garden one is busy (which it usually is), then it’s very close to go the Bloomsbury one.
Living in the UK also gives you access to the member’s site that offers your even more promotions such as a free side or two for one meals at selected branches. Better yet, when a new store opens, you can even win tickets to some of their pre-opening sessions where they give away whole sets of meals all for nothing but your time. My sister’s attended two openings since moving here.
I think the concept of Wagamama’s is great, and the number of times I have been the food quality is always consistently high, though service will always depend on who is serving you.
Chinese Roast Duck is one of those things that you either love or you hate. For some people its the fatty duck skin and the corresponding greasy flesh that turn them off, while for others, the crispy and the juicy tasty flesh is what they enjoy the most. If you have never had roast duck before, it certainly helps to go to some place where prepare it well and serve excellent quality birds.
Four Seasons is one of those Chinese restaurants in London most well known for their duck. I am lucky enough to live almost directly opposite it as well and I know how long their queues can get – even for takeaway. Like many Chinese restaurants, the window starts filling with deep red hanging ducks and other types of BBQ or roast meats just before lunch. In this particular restaurant, queues form rapidly on weekends cascading onto the already bustling Queensway.
The cost of simple roast duck and rice served with cabbage is not exorbitant at only about £6, although a whole roast duck will obviously cost a lot more. Their BBQ meat is extremely tasty and you can get the combination of the two for the same price (but you obviously get less duck). I will be honest about this restaurant’s duck being slightly fatty, but maybe that is how they get the skin so crispy and full of flavour. As a local I don’t really want to make the duck a regular meal, and reserve it only for special occasions because it really is worth it.
I am yet to actually eat inside just because there are plenty of other great eateries and waiting for a table can be exhausting. I bet that they, like many other more upmarket or popular Chinese restaurants do, charge the more excessive 12.5% service on the end (which might be worth it for all I know).
Details: Four Seasons
Found On: 84 Queensway, London, W2 3RL
Contactable On: 0871 3328297
Highlights: Fantastic duck and a busy atmosphere to dine in directly opposite a very central tube station.
Improvements: Its popularity and small size means queues are inevitable
The Kua Rating: 8 out of 10
London’s temperature has dropped significantly over the last few weeks and I can’t help but think that the end of summer is truly gone. Thankfully yesterday’s weather was quite good despite the cold temperatures with generally cloudless blue skies and so I thought it would be nice to take a trip out to the London Zoo. I have heard many great things about the zoo so it was off to Camden for the morning.
The Zoo is nestled inside Regent’s Park with the entrance walking distance from the Camden Town tube station. The zoo is not as big as many other ones around the world, but considering where it is located and the number of animals they have on show, it still occupied a good part of the day and you could easily spend more time here if you lazily walked around.
We managed to see almost all of the animal enclosures and I think that next time I would skip the Aquarium part, especially considering it is nothing like Underwater World back home, or that the London Aquarium is on the other side of town.
I really enjoyed the caterpillar-shaped butterfly enclosure that was filled with so many of them that more often than not a butterfly would land on you. The pink flamingos were also quite a nice site, and even more so, the strangely pink-tinged White Pelicans (who apparently turn pink in spring).
The zoo even has a couple of native Australian animals such as the Kangaroo and the Emu, but like at most zoos I’ve been to, the Kangaroo was simply nestled comfortably in one corner of the ground soaking up some rays.
They also run a number of shows throughout the day, and we caught the ‘Animals in Action’ one where we could see animals doing all the things that they normally do, including a South American Macaw, a Vulture, a number of rats, and a Lemur. Each of the animals involved obviously looked extremely well trained with a couple of them even really taking to all the attention and the limelight of the stage.
The trip to the day was a great thing to do when you’re in the middle of London and feel like escaping all the people (though be prepared to be surrounded by screaming or crying children instead). There’s even in the middle of building the Gorilla enclosure that will be finished in 2007 sometime which is already looking quite impressive.