I don't hate many parts of London. Even the dodgier bits of the city are interesting to me for their character -- and characters. But Leicester Square embodies all that is wrong with touristy London: terribly overpriced food in bland chain restaurants; tacky clubs with the bass music annoyingly bleating; suburban teens eager to show their presence with loud voices and attitude. All in one small square.
Last night when our original plan for ice skating at Somerset House failed (all the tickets sold out!), we found ourselves inexplicably drawn towards the Square of Doom. To make matters worse, smack dab in the middle of the square was a funfair. Now, I am all for rollarcoasters and various other thrill seeking rides. I am not for paying an arm and a leg for some stupid swings that didn't even scare me when I was five. However, we did fork out for one ride that seemed to be the scariest of the lot - 'Insania', which just swung round in a giant circle. Pure craziness.
Fear whetted our appetite and we headed towards Chinatown. The one good thing (the only good thing) about Leicester Square is its close proximity to the cheap, good food of Chinatown and the buzz of Soho. A short five-minute walk away is The Man's favourite Chinese restaurant, The Golden Dragon -- or, as he calls it, King Prawn (he's terrible with names).
You can tell a restaurant is good when there's a queue. I've never been to the Golden Dragon without having to queue for at least fifteen minutes. But it's well worth the wait. The food is fresh, steaming hot and delicious. Starving, we glugged our jasmine tea and scoffed down spring rolls and garlic chicken as we waited for our mains of fillet steak with ginger and spring onions; squid and black bean sauce; and crispy noodles with seafood.
Barely able to move. we maneuvered ourselves out onto the cold street. Backs to Leicester Square, we walked away from the torrid lights, vowing for the millionth time never to return.