London never ceases to amaze me. No matter how many times you drag your feet across its cobbled pavements or watch the rain fall onto its cracked rooftops, you will always find a new wrinkle when you gaze upon its face.
Moving back to the city of my dreams has made me eager to explore all of its nook and crannies… and because I am not one to postpone adventure I got straight to it. Only a day after my plane touched down at London City Aiport, I agreed to meet my friend for lunch at the Shoryu restaurant in Kingly Court – two places I’d never heard of till then. Come along to find out what I thought of both!
Carnaby Street likely needs no introduction – this pedestrian shopping street in the heart of the British capital is famous around the world for its quirky decorations and independent fashion boutiques.The street takes its name from Karnaby House, which was built there in 1683. But it wasn’t until the 1960s that the area became what it is now. Members of The Who or Rolling Stones made the area their hangout spot, which quickly turned it into a one of the hottest places in Swinging London – and not only because of Mick Jagger and his moves.
Most Carnaby Street regulars are extremely fashionable – it is no accident that street style photographers with DSLRs larger than most my backpacks hone their craft here. The area is always buzzing with excitement, which adds to rather than distracts from its unique character.
But like most places in the center of London, Carnaby Street can get a little overwhelming. Walking through the gate to Kingly Court, I immediately felt the hustle and bustle of the city melting into the background. The place is not an oasis of peace per se – in fact, it is a wonderful spot for people watching because many of them choose to unwind here. What distinguishes Kingly Court from its surrounding streets is the relaxed attitude, the absence of heels clacking on tarmac as people rush past you.
The laid back feel is only enhanced by the decor – colourful, full of greenery and unpretentious, but decidedly stylish the area is frequented by business professionals and students alike. If like me you belong to the latter, significantly poorer group you should note that food prices hover around £10-15 for a sit-down meal – this is central London after all.
But there is a lot more to Kingly Court than food! The courtyard is full of vintage shops, hairdressers and even a place where you can drop in for a quick backrub. The place stayed true to the original spirit of Carnaby Street – it is quirky, independent and vibrant.
Kingly Court has no shortage of restaurants to choose from – you can sip on Caribbean cocktails at The Rum Kitchen, tuck into all-American burgers at Stax Diner or do as I did and catch up with friends over a steaming bowl of ramen at Shoryu restaurant.
Shoryu specialises in ramen – and when I say specialises I mean it has fourteen different kinds of ramen on the menu, with some yakitori skewers and sashimi thrown in for good measure. That’s it. I’m a big fan of highly specialised restaurants – in my opinion many places with extensive menus spread themselves too thin and provide food which is neither outstanding nor fresh.
The place is a perfect example of a limited menu done right – unless you dislike ramen of course in which case may the odds be ever in your favour if you choose to eat here! You can have your noodles cold, ready to be hipped into a hot delicious broth – if that’s what you’re after “Fire and Ice” comes highly recommended…
…or you can just go for hot, like the saucy thing you are. My friend ordered a bowl of “Dracula Ramen” which I would highly recommend if you are on a blind date and the person you’ve just met has provoked a surge of hate within you so strong that you want to vaporise them on the spot. Otherwise, proceed with caution.
And that, my friend, is the end of our outing to Kingly Court – a surprising getaway from the rush of city life. Have you ever heard of the place? Would you visit it while in London?