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London vs World

Chris Lovejoy (PhD Neurology) says his favourite kung fu bar sums up what’s great about London.

Photograph Marcus Ginns

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London doesn’t lack for bars. If it’s alcohol you are after, there are many options. If you like shouting at your companions, you’d be spoilt for choice. But if you actually want to start a conversation, perhaps with someone you’ve never met before, then for me there is only one place to go – a small basement bar under an office complex. When I first went there I completely missed the entrance: it’s just a black door with a tiny sign that says ‘PimpShuei’.

I went with some mates from UCL and thought it was a really cool place with a twinge of nostalgia running through it. It’s basically an 80s/90s kung fu bar and it’s got a big screen that old kung fu movies are projected on to. The movies lend a nice aesthetic to the place; the colours are beautiful and it all pops – the style, the clothes and everything. On the screens there’s always some weird fight going on or someone flying through the air with a samurai sword.

They play Chemical Brothers, Run-DMC, and Beastie Boys, a 90s New York kind of soundtrack. It’s got old arcade machines as well: Street Fighter, Time Crisis and Point Blank, all the games you used to get in bowling alleys when you were a kid. Point Blank is a light gun arcade machine full of mini games. The stage starts and it will be full of glasses, say, and you and your friend have to shoot as many as possible – whoever shoots the most is the winner. It’s great fun.

From Bloomsbury it’s a 10- to 15-minute walk, so it’s pretty central – you can walk back to King’s Cross to get a night tube, easy. Usually I go on a Wednesday or Thursday to have a few drinks and wind down. I like a good cocktail and the ones at PimpShuei taste fantastic. One of them, Tonic Jaa, is a gin cocktail; it’s very refreshing, with cucumber and all kinds of weird stuff in it.

I’ve seen people working on the bar sometimes or just reading a book. It’s the kind of place you can pop in to after work, have a drink and then go home – the atmosphere is very friendly, almost like a local. Go, have a chat with friends, chat with some new people, try some drinks, play some games – and then, at closing time, saunter home a bit merry.

Chris Lovejoy is funded by the Joy Bunker Scholarship, established by Phil Bunker (BSc Economics and Geography 1983) in memory of his late mother who died of Alzheimer’s.

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Portico Issue 4. 2017/18
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