Every day this month the Londonist team will be pointing you in the direction of a Christmas present that (with a bit of luck) you won’t already have on your list. Climb up onto our collective lap and we’ll see what we can move from our sack to your stockings…
The Londonist Chinatown Christmas Hamper is the alternative collection of foodstuffs that appear this time of year. Though far from original as department stores and high street shops have their variations of the Oriental cookery giftset – a wok or bamboo steamer, fortune cookies, chopsticks, instant noodles, recipe book – we thought we’d make a far more authentic giftset from Chinatown itself .
Not only did we discover the vast range of amusing, useful and outright delicious things available, we were also amazed at the prices. This is a truly value for money gift idea which looks huge, is very generous and feels different enough to induce smugnes without hurting your bank balance or sending you miles out of your way.
The way to create the Chinatown hamper is to first of all… go to Chinatown. There are supermarkets on Gerrard Street, some near the pagoda and See Woo supermarket on Lisle Street, opposite the Prince Charles cinema. We highly recommend See Woo for everything and anything Chinese, at extremely low prices – but be warned: it is extremely crowded in there and often very busy. Do not attempt to shop there if you are carrying lots of shopping / suitcases / cycle helmet and bike parts / small children. You will suffer greatly if you try. Do not even consider going inside on a Sunday: Sundays are the busiest day of the week in Chinatown as takeaway owners and restaurant staff have their day off to have dim sum and go shopping, and families flood the place for Sunday Chinese classes. Go on Saturday morning or early afternoon or make a quick trip afer work one weeknight; most stores stay open until 8.00pm, some even later.
While you can make a hamper from almost any of the items you can buy in Chinatown, we chose the following for the Londonist Chinatown Hamper from See Woo:
- Scallop noodles
- sandalwood soap
- gunpowder tea, jasmine tea, miniature tea tin selection,
- sesame oil, chili sauce, light soy sauce
See the Flickr set here for the full details of each item.
It’s a fairly safe hamper with no threatening or scary things, but you can, of course, be more adventurous and add whatever takes your fancy. The grand total we paid for this lovely bundle of Far Eastern goodness was an unbelievable £7.04. Pack it all into a pretty box bask in the glow of your appreciative friends and family.