17 June 2011

Central London - Secret LDN - Soho - Gallery Rendezvous

Wow this one has been sitting in the Drafts folder for some time now!  Delayed but still worthy, here's my review of an unexpected night in Soho.

I love finding new places that take you by surprise.  It seems that this month I've been rediscovering all the things I used to do on a regular basis at home and finally doing them again in London (re: Bubble Tea).

On a night out after work, someone in our group mentioned a karaoke place in Soho. This was definitely something out of the ordinary for most of us as the pub that's about 5 steps away from our office doors is our normal setting.  Nonetheless, we weaved through the damp, narrow streets of Soho after deciding a dance club was not on the cards for the night and finally stopped in front of a standard Chinese restaurant. (?)  This took us by surprise for two reasons 1) we weren't in Chinatown which isn't far from Soho, yet made this place stick out like a sore thumb amidst the other bars and 2) there was no one in the restaurant. OK, I lied a little bit, there were two girls in the restaurant but that was it!  As our group consisted of a very loud batch of 10+ media types we definitely felt like we were in the wrong place.

The name of the restaurant: Gallery Rendezvous. Not exactly what you would expect a Chinese restaurant to be named, maybe they're really Vietnamese but we'll roll with it. When you walked in, although it was as empty as the alleys it bordered, you felt like you were being invited into someone's home.  The man, possibly the owner, serving the tables saw the size of our group and offered us, pretty much a grand buffet of food for a £10 each.  It was like we had our own private party and catering team.

I've come to realise that I have two favourite cuisines; Italian and Chinese...but I'm very specific about my Chinese food.  I know American-Chinese isn't as authentic but it is amazingly delicious and anything that comes close to it is a win in my books.  In fact I don't like many of the restaurants in Chinatown at all, I prefer the ones outside of Central.  As we were so close to Chinatown I was pretty worried about their cooking methods.  The fact that this man offered us so much food for a flat rate had me worried, but it was everything I could have wanted!  A friend from Taiwan once gave me the advice:
"If you want to know how well a Chinese restaurant can cook, order their pork dishes. If they can't cook pork, you don't want to eat there."
And pork there was a-plenty! We ordered our food, asked for as many pork dishes as possible and after about 10 minutes we were escorted out of the restaurant for our karaoke session.

Neon light in Gallery Rendezvous Karaoke room

You would not have known that there was an entire 2 floors dedicated to karaoke rooms in the Gallery Rendezvous.  You would probably hear it, as not many people are there eating, but if you saw it you may have thought you stepped into the TARDIS.  We walked to the top floor into a large rectangular room which had been arranged with L-shaped sofas along blank walls soaked in blue neon lights.  The "Karaoke Machine", was a PC tower from circa 1998, wired to a large flat screen TV.  To choose your karaoke songs, you had to scroll through the selection of downloaded karaoke music on the PC and put them in a playlist on, you ready for this?....WINAMP!
We must have gone for a ride in the TARDIS because it looked like something straight out of a college dorm (university halls) during the Y2K crisis. Not only was the setup shoddy, so were the videos/songs. Missing tracks, mild porn videos for songs that didn't match, a YouTube photo slide of Beyonce for Halo - I mean it could have at least been a photo slide of a heavenly sky, no?  The rooms went for £30/hour, but as we were a large group it was a small amount to pay for a very entertaining night.  Luckily the singing happened quite late in the evening and we were all in a right state, so the mishaps brought more laughter than annoyance. 

Overall, I had a great time.  The singing, although loud and sometimes painful, really had the whole room in a great mood.  I may come back for another karaoke night if in the right state of mind.  The food however, was perfect and it was a shame we didn't snatch up some takeaway boxes because there was so much food left over by the time our 3 hour karaoke session finished.  

Come back for the food, stay for the entertainment.

I actually haven't had Chinese food since this night and that was about three weeks ago.  I'm still trying to find my new favourite Chinese restaurant in the N19...  *logs in to hungryhouse and looks up a decent takeaway*

Gallery Rendezvous can be found at:

53-55 Beak Street
Nearest Tube: Oxford Circus or Piccadilly Circus

Gallery Rendezvous on Urbanspoon

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