27 June 2015

Nam Long's Opium Den

Okay guys, so I messed up... I was running late, and I forgot Nina (the Nikon), and I had no time to go back and grab her. Sob. So these images are courtesy of Omar Loi, and my Samsung S-not-the-newest-model. But here's what went down at Nam Long's new addition, The Opium Den.

Nam Long,  located on Old Brompton Road, has been around for just over quarter of a century, and it so happens to be a fave of royalty - both literal and celeb. As in, Kate Moss was there the other week, and Wills and Harry are known for downing a "Flaming Ferrari" or two (but more on them, later!).

From the outside, Nam Long looks fairly inconspicuous. Essentially, if you didn't know of it, you'd walk straight past. But it's made a name for itself over the years thanks to its delicious Pan-Asian cuisine, lethal but delicious cocktails, and of course the crowd it draws in.

Upstairs is light and warm, with cutesy buddhas dotted around and a healthy amount of portraits and clutter which makes you feel at home. There's also a rather impressive bar, which sets the tone immediately - they take their cocktails very seriously here (and it's maybe why the buddhas look so cheerful?)

After a recommendation from the PR to go for "The Jade", which was a smooth citrus concoction of vodka, gin, cucumber, elderflower & lime, we made our way downstairs to the newly opened Opium Den.

Later on in the night I was introduced to the owner, Dzuyen Dang, who told us a bit about the history of the place. Her father owned Nam Long, but sadly passed away a few years ago and left his legacy to her. In her late 20s, she had no idea about managing a restaurant, so was thrown in at the deep end!

The gorgeous Dzuyen

The downstairs of Nam Long was originally used for storage, but after her Dad's passing, Dzuyen saw the opportunity to make the space into something special, and set about renovating it.

The great thing about the place is that you can start your night at the restaurant, then head on down to the Opium Den in the evening. They have late license until 2:30am, which is practically unheard of in most restaurants! It's a USP they're understandably quite chuffed about.

The Jade, looking as divine as it tasted

I'm going to make bold statement that Nam Long will convert people that aren't that keen on cocktails, simply because of the ones I tasted (I tasted, erm, 3? I forget), none were particularly offensive. The flavours were well-balanced and not at all overpowering, so I was even able to drink a whisky-based cocktail, and I don't like whisky. I mean, it's a great asset, but it's also potentially dangerous...

My (not so) wonderful images

After my "Jade", I tried the "Pearisco", which, as you can probably guess, was pear-flavoured. Interestingly, some spirits were added with a pipette. I was fascinated.

Also on offer were nibbles such a chicken satay, spring rolls, fried vegetables and mini skewers. They were delicious, but they didn't come with napkins which meant I had the tendency to drip soy sauce everywhere. But oh well. YUM.

But guys, I need to tell you about the "Flaming Ferraris". 

Whenever anyone has one, the music is turned down and guests are "treated" to the sound of a revving car (I'm assuming it's a Ferrari engine, as that would make sense). The barmen bring the drinks to the table - a martini glass filled with brown liquid, and a shot of an ominous blue liquid. Then, the barmen set the brown liquid on fire, stick a straw in and order you to DRINK DRINK DRINK (a drink that is quite literally on fire) and throw in the blue shot as you start to frantically slurp. And there's lots of shot glass banging and shouting. It's pretty intense.

Too afraid to have a whole one to myself, I split it with a friend of a friend who I'd just met that evening (intimate!) and let me just say I could NOT have done a whole one. Jeeeez. It was so strong both our eyes were streaming for a good minute after. I could feel my throat burning for a good five minutes after. And then I felt fine... and then I felt drunk. I couldn't even tell you what I drank because the recipe is secret.

Fire! Fire! Fire!

Nam Long can be very persuasive, especially when they assure you that the drink you're about to down is favoured by royalty. I mean, when someone says that, and the drink itself is complimentary, you can hardly say no, right?

All in all, a great evening was had at the Opium Den. It would make a great location for an upmarket soiree or a special birthday (you can rent out the space for private parties, too), and I imagine it would be fun to celeb spot and try your luck with Prince Harry. If you go, have a Flaming Ferrari and let me know how you fare...

*I was kindly invited as a guest to Nam Long, but my opinions are my own.

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