Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Camden, Wagamama and Yumchaa

I don't know. Sometimes I get sick of central London and you know what they say - "when a man is tired of London he is tired of life". Well I'm not a man and I don't think I need to re-evaluate my life just yet. Anyway, I thought I could do with a change from zone one and like the absolute undisputed rebel I am, I ventured out into zone two.

Camden Lock Bridge River
Camden Lock
Apart from checking out overpriced tat, the original plan was to hit Yumchaa and the vegan and gluten free bakery Cookies and Scream. When we got to the stall though, I couldn't say I was overly impressed by the presentation of the products. Nothing was covered and any old fly (or perhaps worse, a human) could have molested the mighty tasty looking goodies. I decided to pass.

We realised we were hungry and seeing as Din has a phobia of InSpiral (the delicious vegan joint) and I have a phobia of the food stalls in the market, I thought we were screwed. It seemed like the only place left that we both were okay with was Wagamama. After some pursuasion, Din (who had vowed to never visit Wagamama after they scrapped his favourite dish, Amai Udon lol) agreed to get a Chicken Katsu Curry. When we got talking to our waitress, she said Amai Udon had been phased out because a new but similar and better dish, Wagamama Pad Thai over took its sales. He took her advice and ordered it with tofu and udon noodles instead of soba. It contained shallots, chillis, beansprouts, onions, coriander cress, peanuts, tofu, spring onions and beansprouts. He agreed that it was better than Amai Udon. Success! He has now been reconverted into a Waga fan.

Wagamama Pad Thai with Soba Noodles
Wagamama Pad Thai with Soba Noodles

I got the Chicken Itame which contained rice noodles, chicken, beansprouts, bok choi, peppers and mushrooms in a spicy coconut and lemongrass broth. It sounded great on the menu but the chicken was dry and after a while I grew bored of the dish as a whole. The spicy coconut soup was good though, very creamy and smooth. Like most of the dishes I've tried in Wagamama, I won't bother getting it again. I think the only dishes worth anything are the Chicken Katsu Curry and the Raisukaree. Call me picky.

Wagamama Chicken Itame and Green Tea
Wagamama Chicken Itame and Green Tea
And on to Yumchaa for our first visit. There were way too many teas to choose from! You can pick up every cup and smell them. I thought this was a great way to choose my tea as I actually got to interact and have a sense of what my tea was going to be like, instead of selecting from a lifeless text menu. After sniffing every single one, I decided to try the Lemon Sherbert tea, while Din ordered Walk in the Woods.
Yumchaa Camden Parkway Menu
Camden Parkway Yumchaa Menu
Yumchaa Loose Teas
Yumchaa's Tea Sniffing Selection

Like Cookies and Scream, Yumchaa's baked goods were also uncovered so I didn't try any of them but they did look great.

Yumchaa Camden Baked Cakes
Treats at Yumchaa
I love the way Yumchaa only serve loose leaf teas with filtered water in sweet teapots. They do this because they want to 'free' the teas of restrictive teabags and allow the leaves to swirl around in the water to steep more effectively. It felt so civilised and old fashioned. The handles on the mugs were tiny though which made for difficult drinking. I could barely put two fingers through the handle so it was really hard to pick it up without being burnt. In the end I just left it to cool down so I could ditch the handle and pick it up like the commoner that I am. Din resorted to slurping tactics.

Yumchaa Loose Tea in China Cups
Walk in the Woods, Lemon Sherbert, Din slurping at Yumchaa.

I loved the interior of Yumchaa, it was shabby, cozy and had that second hand feel to it. Incredibly charming. However, unless you are able to dash in at the crack of dawn, it is very unlikely that you will secure one of the beautiful sofas in the window (which are no doubt precisely located to lure the tired Camden traipsers). If you are one of the unlucky many who didn't start queueing at 6am for them, you will be sitting in the back of the tea house. There were not many tables free and (partly due to the surprisingly common tendency for one person to occupy an entire sofa) we were squished on a table for two at the back.

Yumchaa Parkway
The View from the Back of Yumchaa

There is no doubt that Yumchaa has a fantastic tea selection. I didn't really know what to expect but I see a lot of their teas as being herbal because a fair few of them were quite fruity and smelt very sweet. This pleased me because I am a big fan of herbal teas, my favourite brand being Heath and Heather which can be found in Holland and Barrett. Whilst Lemon Sherbert was drinkable, I couldn't taste much lemon at all even though it smelt strongly of the sherbert. I even resorted to dusting the bottom of my tea cup with nutmeg because my first rabbit was called nutmeg in a last ditch attempt for more flavour, only to realise it made the tea worse. I should have just dumped honey into it. I much preferred Din's drink as it was like something I'd normally have, fruity and sweet. I think next time I will try the caramel tea, earl grey or even just a plain rooibos.

Before visiting Yumchaa I'd read reviews online and noticed that a lot of people had complained that after an hour or so of wifi use, it cut out. Although it may be annoying for some it's good for others as this can at least encourage people to leave and make space for other customers. We're all aware of those who buy one drink, occupy a whole sofa and table designed for four people and hog it for hours on their laptop. Stop table hogging!


  1. Looks like you had an amazing time in Yumchaa <3 your pictures are amazing. The food looks amazing!


  2. Although the tea wasn't amazing I'd definitely go back and try a different one.

    Thanks for the comment!