ask Lin about
breakfast and brunch • nightclubs • café • viewpoints • cocktail bars • ethnic food • hidden bars
What do you do and why do you do it?
Full-time energy and infrastructure business consultant, part-time photographer. Consultant because I love the built environment and problem-solving. Photography because it is my way of sharing my perspective of a situation, experience or place I've visited; it is also my passport to new friendships, cultures and countries. Both are completely different but not mutually exclusive in terms of skills and approach - I need them both - the intellectual stimulation and the creativity balances me out!
You’re broken hearted - what tracks does your heartbreak playlist consist of?
Intially, I would need some sappy tunes such as Foreigner's I want to know what love is or some NSync. With acceptance of the heartbreak comes getting over it with some Red Hot Chilli Peppers' Made You Feel Better softer types to Can't Stop and Aeroplane. Slowly, acceptance progresses onto some IDGAF rebellion with the help from Guns & Roses and System of a Down!
What are the best TV shows of all time?
I don't own a TV - there's an opportunity cost involved with sitting down on a sofa watching TV! But if I had to name a TV show I have watched previously, you can't really go wrong with The Simpsons.
Name some spots in London that are good for a Tinder date.
Once named of the of top 10 'secret' speakeasy bars in the world, Lounge Bohemia is a small and unassuming cocktail bar in an underground cave, somewhere along Great Eastern Street. You enter through an unlabelled door next to a grubby Kebab shop where all the drunk people go to after a boozy night-out in Shoreditch. Cocktails are innovative and tasty, and the ambience is quiet and chilled out - great for conversations.
Who’s your hero and where in London would you take them out for a serious hang?
George Orwell - he exposed me to the real world with his dystopian novels. I would take him for a walk through Shoreditch (and especially the Cereal Killer cafe which charges over £6 per bowl of cereal) as an example of heavy gentrification in London - that would definitely spark some cool debates about capitalism and contrived development.
Where do you buy those fabulous clothes of yours?
My normal clothes are usually from Asos or Zara. On the other hand, my hippy dippy clothes from random boutiques from different parts of the world - nothing in particular. Comfort and expression over trend and attention!
What’s the area/ spot in town you’ll never be caught dead in?
Wagamamas... its food is embarrassingly unauthentic and borderlines cultural in-appropriation.
What’s the thing you LOVE to do in your city that you never get to do?
I haven't been to Ballie Ballerson in Dalston yet, a huge ball pit playground/ nightlife venue with >250k clear balls.
What’s the most decadent / extreme dish you ever ate in London and where did you get it?
I'm not wild with food... but I know you can get exotic meats from Borough market.
Is there a hidden bar / hole in the wall in London that you particularly like?
Other than my above recommendations, I really like Magic Roundabout. This alfresco bar-club literally sits in the middle of the Old Street roundabout - with a disco ball in the middle and psychedelic mushrooms painted on walls illuminated with black light. My next recommendation does not relate to bars, but it's something better. Check out Ziferblat, a 'secret treehouse for adults' cafe and creative space on the first floor of a shophouse along Old Street. You pay based on the time you spend there, and you get access to all the coffee and snacks you'd like.
What’s the most expensive restaurant / spa / hotel you’ve ever been to in London? How much did it cost and what did you get there?
Dinner by Heston by Heston Blumenthal. I only went because a friend's mom treated me to dinner. I think it came up to close to £100 per person including drinks, but the dinner was memorable and food was creative and of good quality. I never dine at expensive restaurants, but I would go back again for a special occasion.
What restaurant in London looks crap, but the food’s amazing?
As an Asian person living in London, a trip to Four Seasons/ Gold Mine Restaurant for the roast duck is an almost mandatory Asian person's pilgrimage route. The decor isn't crap, but it isn't the fanciest either. I also like Beirut Cafe along Edgware road for some amazing Lebanese food and traditional desert! Finally, Ariana is one of the most underrated restaurants that serves up insanely delicious Afghan food. My Afghan friend took me here once and I've been returning every month after. Try the Mantoo (lamb dumplings) and Qabuli Pulao (lamb leg under a mountain of basmati rice mixed with raisins and shredded carrots). Unforgettable.
Where can you get the best cocktail in London? Which one do you like?
London Cocktail Club at Shoreditch for its affordable, good quality, creative cocktails and energetic ambience. You know the types of quirky cocktails that people like to put on their instagram? Try the HEISENBERG, a 'Breaking Bad' inspired tequila cocktail which comes with blue salt on the side to resemble Meth!
Where would you take your partner in London if you wanted to really pamper them?
I just made a booking for a 1 hour float in a floation tank at Floatworks London. I'll be taking a few of my girlfriends for their birthday. Apparently there are a lot of health benefits associated with floating in a water tank of epsom salts. My plan is to take them for a float, followed by dinner at a simple Italian dinner at a family-run restaurant like Anacapri at Baker Street. While this isn't your traditional expensive spa date + Michelin star dinner, I'd like to think it's more beneficial to pamper them with new experiences and good conversations over wine!
Which snacks can you only get in your country, and which ones do you recommend?
I find it difficult to answer this question because you can literally get any type of snack in London including international ones. I guess you can call McVitie's Digestives a local snack that you don't usually find in every other country?? But let's talk about McVitie's NEW Digestives THINS; they are a new, thinner version of a digestive biscuit which has its classic sweet-meal taste, a thin coat of chocolate, with a waffle-thin structure. Very irresistable; you can seriously finish an entire packet of >30 pieces in one sitting!
What’s the one place you think is overrated in London?
There's so many restaurants whose food don't match up to its hype, especially the handful of restaurants that are constantly listed as 'best brunch/ lunch/ dinner in London' on Timeout Magazine. You know they obviously have a huge marketing budget - I'm not a judge on Masterchef, but honestly, the quality of the food sometimes shocks me... Not sure if I want to name shame these restaurants, but what I'm trying to say is - DON'T TRUST EVERY 'TOP 10 BRUNCH/ DINNER' LIST YOU SEE ON THE INTERNET! Use cool cousin for tried and tested recommendations! :)
What’s the one place you think is underrated in London?
Netil 360 rooftop bar. Most of the rooftop bars in London are usually quite posh venues. Sometimes you need to pay an entrance fee, something I strongly disagree with - city views should be free! Anyway, quick rant aside, the Netil360 Rooftop Bar in Hackney is a really cool place to visit for that local 'East London' vibe. Views of the east while standing/ sitting with friends on AstroTurf, drink in hand while grooving to live DJ sets... I love the unpretentious, laid-back vibe of this place.
What are the London spots a first-time visitor can’t miss?
I'm surprised that many tourists don't know about The Sky Garden at 20 Fenchurch Street, otherwise known as the 'notorious' car-parts-burning Walkie Talkie building! There are several walk-in times, otherwise book your visit in advance. I think The Sky Garden gives you the best birds' eye views of London because it's a central point between The Shard, Thames River, Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, St Paul's and the West End, etc!
Tomorrow’s your last day in London. How do you spend it?
With my best friends at a park - lay a picnic mat out and blast some music, get some ready-made food from Marks & Spencer's. Parks in London are a very good place to grant quick respite from the hectic and busy city life. I like Primrose Hill, Hampstead Heath's Parliament Hill, and Richmond Park the best.
What’s your favorite vacation city in the world and why?
I can't decide between Berlin or Amsterdam. There's just so much crazy creative energy sprouting from their streets and their people. Innovation, quirkiness and ideas are present in every corner of their streets. Berlin has a pretty sick nightlife scene too - I've never thought it was possible for an entire scene of nightclubs to be continuously operational from Friday night to Monday morning.