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  • The Wong Shop

    London’s Most Instagrammable Brunch Guide

    You can never have too many brunch spots.

    Luckily, London has platefuls of EGGcellent brunch. The weekend sees our streets JAMmed packed with hungry brunchers. Sundays are for satisfying our cravings for fresh juice, avocado-on-something and my awful runny egg yolks (jokes).

    A few people have asked for recommendations because it looks as if I live in brunch venues on my Instagram.

    BTW, I’m splitting my London brunch guide into two sections. This guide is ‘London’s Most Instagrammable Brunch’. My next guide will be ‘the best Brunch spots in London’, dedicated to foodies (which will also have a vegan section). Stay tuned for that one if you favour quality of food above interiors.

    Let’s start with the places where you won’t be able to resist being snap happy.



    Welcome to a Tom Dixon–designed, and subsequently Instagram-hungry, restaurant. Dixon is one of my favourite designers, everything he touches turns into shades of rose gold, copper-brass and candyfloss. Under double-height ceilings and large palms; I couldn’t resist nestling at the polished pink breakfast bar for the gram’. And the food? Sorry, almost forgot. I ordered ‘The Full Bronte’. I’m weak for the full English; It’s a British institution. I have to admit; I kept staring at my mates ‘The Vegetarian’ breakfast which consisted of bulgur wheat kibbeh, spinach, balsamic plum tomatoes, Portobello mushrooms, smoked baked beans, eggs and extra avocado. Mmm. I stared at breakfast almost as much as the decor.

    Berners Tavern

    You know the food is going to be good when it’s a Jason Atherton (Michelin star celeb chef) restaurant, so foodwise, don’t worry my friend, we’ve covered. I pinky promise you that I’m not paid to say this, but please order the ‘Moroccan fried eggs’. The textures of tomato fondue, yoghurt and toasted sourdough confirmed that my plate was returned clean. The surroundings are astounding, with the balls-out stately Edwardian-style opulent decor, in the open: people-watching, decadent dining room. The Instagrammable factor relies on the triple-height ceiling, dangling chandeliers and walls arrayed with hundreds of paintings. Oh boy, it’s dreamy, and I didn’t want to leave, to be thrown out into the concrete jungle that is Oxford Circus.

    Clerkenwell Grind

    The Grind gang are killing it ATM. Clerkenwell Grind has opened its doors as the seventh branch as an all-day restaurant and club-bar with a dulcet atmosphere. This dreamboat entertains plush blue sofas, marble tables and sleepy lighting; it’s easily the most snappable of the Grind bunch. Juices are a favourite here. Set the day with the classic Fresh Orange or their signature – Amber Juice (orange, carrot, lemon and ginger). I’m a massive (fat) fan of the cliche Smashed Avocado (served with a poached egg and sprinkled chilli flakes), or if you’re feeling something sweet: the French banana toast with coconut frozen yoghurt is a winner. If you want to set your Instagram on fire, they have acai bowls.


    And this is why. Moroccan eggs though 👌🏼🍳

    A post shared by Monica Wong (@thewongblog) on


    Distinctly and deliciously French, Aubaine has grown from its West London home, currently flourishing with nine restaurants. The recently opened Selfridges branch is the most Instagrammble of the bunch. Spring 2017 saw Instagrammers go wild for London’s wisteria; if you have a case of FOMO, you can get your #hysteriawistera fix at Aubaine. Who can resist brunch with Parisian style lighting, cosy cream booths and a draping smell of lavender? You can’t have a French Restaurant without freshly baked bread and patisserie. Foodwise, there are the classics: eggs benedict, granola with yoghurt, freshly squeezed juices. There’s a twist on the full French – with Toulouse sausage, Alsace bacon, duck egg and mushrooms.

    Palm Vaults

    Slap bang in the middle of Hackney, Palm Vaults is the goddess of the pastel-coloured lattes. It’s a Bloggers paradise. The cute little café is home to pink hanging baskets overflowing with greenery, velvet sofas, terrarium walls, pastel interiors and mini succulents. Palm Valuts deserves this spot in the Instagram category because customers even take pictures in the toilets! The menu boasts Acai bowls, chia puddings, salads with edible flowers and the classic avocado toast is glorious. There’s also a range of vegan cakes including avocado fudge cake — a weird combination that works a treat.

    Goodnes 💞🌴💞 pretty pic from @theldnbrunchcollective taken by @winsomelaiws

    A post shared by Palmvaults.com (@palmvaults) on

    Chiswick Fire Station

    I could be biased because Chiswick is one of my favourite places in London. In fact, I’m sat in Chiswick right now as I write this post for you. If you’re willing to venture into the wild-wild West, Chiswick Fire Station is an interior goldmine. If there was a Pinterest lottery, then this place has hit the #interiorgoals jackpot. A deep-set bar and restaurant filled with irresistible strawberry milkshake sofas, copper tables and cacti. The light, airy and homey space creates an interior feast over brunch. It’s so cosy that I sometimes snuggle in with my laptop. I usually go for my regular, Eggs Royal Smoked salmon, avocado and spinach on sourdough with housemade hollandaise. The concoction of attractive interior and food is without a doubt the Instagrammers delight.

    Farm Girl

    Tucked in an alleyway at the southern end of Portobello Road, Farm Girl is a smaller cafe for the health-conscious-superfood eaters. If you’re not into the whole ‘raw’ food trend, then skip this one and continue your quest with my next recommendation. If Farm Girl were a clothing store, it would be Hollister; It has a bright, breezy and beach-bod ready vibe. Your Instagram story will relish in a realm of colour: turquoise tiled walls, lush flowers on the tabletop, and hanging fruit display. The most popular item is the salads. Otherwise, there’s buckwheat berry pancakes, three-egg omelettes cooked in coconut oil, vegetable patties and cake. I love the cacao smoothie of banana, almond milk and cinnamon.

    Flat lay goals!!! Have a lovely weekend 📸 @fashionzauber_com

    A post shared by Farm Girl Cafe (@farmgirlcafe) on

    Ultimate #botanicalpickmeup – last summer inside the Greenhouse.

    A post shared by Bourne & Hollingsworth (@bourneandhollingsworth) on

    We're ready for Chelsea Flower Show 🌺#cfs #kingsroad #chelseaflowershow #floralinstallation

    A post shared by The Ivy Chelsea Garden (@ivychelsgarden) on

    Bourne & Hollingsworth

    Farringdon’s finest brunch spot. The Instagram magic happens in the frond-filled conservatory filled with textured upholstery. The decor is faded but bright, overflowing with greenery and is the best spot for sun-worshipping. I already know that you’ll fall in love with me after I tell you that the cocktail menu features bottomless Bloody Mary’s and seasonal Bellinis. Breakfast wise, you can build your very own Full English. Amused by the smaller pleasures of life; I like teeny tiny jars of sauce that came alongside breakfast. I kept staring at another customer’s Huevos Benedictos which is runny poached egg served with crisp chorizo and avocado. If you’re craving sugar that day, there’s French toast with banana and chocolate. Utterly delicious.

    The Ivy Chelsea Garden

    To be honest, you don’t even need to have brunch here as you can take a picture of the beautiful floral backdrop situated at the entrance. Be wary of the Chinese tourists (*cough* me) who hover around to pap the spot. The Ivy Chelsea Garden combines Ivy splendour with a spacious garden terrace. Opt for the delicious Garden Breakfast, with halloumi, avocado and kale hash brown, in its grand dining room. Ivy Chelsea is a summer oasis.

    If I’ve missed any places and you just screamed at this screen by shouting the name of the venue, please do let me know and I’ll add to this list.

    If you’re planning to go or have been to any of my recommendations, I would love to see your Instasnaps.

    Eat loads and be merry, fellow Brunchers.

    Location: London


    The Anti-Productive: how to work smart, not hard

    Society has taught us that the number of hours you input is directly proportional to the amount of productive output that you produce. Well, F that.

    There’s no reason to be working countless hours until you pass out. And, no this isn’t a guide on how to lounge in your pants all day (although I wish it were). It’s about working smart, not hard.

    The standard, generic advice is to wake up at 6 am, down a shot of wheatgrass and cycle to work. Hmm, no thanks. I wish I were one of those people who live for mornings. Sadly, I’m not. I’m the most productive from midday onwards. But, this isn’t the same for everyone. The first step is to explore what works for you and to question whether your current environment caters.

    Productivity is an intensely personal thing. We all have different decisions, outlooks, and situations where we feel most productive. With the steps below, you need figure out what gets you fired up (recognising the momentum points in your daily routine) and what slows you down (procrastination is tied to anxiety, you need to understand your fears and why you have them).

    how-to-work smart-not-hard-anti-productive-the-wong-blog-monica-wong

    how-to-work smart-not-hard-anti-productive-the-wong-blog-monica-wong

    Focus, rest, repeat

    Great minds alternate, you’re not designed to function like a robot. Your brain works like a muscle. Muscles naturally have a high capacity to work, and you build it up. However, if you overstretch your muscles, their ability to be stimulated by further growth decreases its functionality. Don’t make the mistake of trying to work flat out for more than five hours without any rest. You need to get the medicinal benefits of rest, while still keeping your momentum alive. This may seem like a simple nugget, but I know so many people (including myself) who burn themselves out. Don’t assume that the world will give it to you, give rest to yourself.

    Reconsider multitasking

    I’m like a kid in a sweet shop. I get distracted by all the flavours that I forget why I’m in the sweet shop in the first place. We all know that your best work happens when you don’t do it all at once. You may feel like you get more done when you spin many plates, but in reality, you’re taking a hit to your productivity. Multitasking prevents you from giving your best on any single task. I’ve gone as far as turning off the sound for emails on my phone as I write this article for you. Close your email, put in your headphones, and give the task the love it deserves. One focused hour is better than three distracted ones.

    Move your body

    As humans, we’re not supposed to be desk-chained all day; move your body, throughout the day, as much as you can. After the many staring contests I have with the computer screen, I feel so much better after a short walk. I talk a lot about the benefits of fitness on my blog because I truly believe it makes such a big impact on your work and, life in general. It’s so important to release stress, have enough energy to make it through the day and to be able to make clear decisions at work.

    Limit staying late

    There is no way in which a person can be on their A-game throughout an entire 9 am – 9 pm period. Just because an employee arrived five minutes late, doesn’t mean they’re going to work any less than their peers who arrived on time (exception to those who are scheduled to meet customers/clients). It’s about what you do at work, not how many hours you spend. If you’re trying your best to get through the workload, yet you’re finding yourself staying late every day, question why you’re still there. If you stay late and put in those extra hours, most of that time is pretty ineffective because you end up burning out and producing bad work. Don’t slave away for minimal benefits.

    Have a backup

    In today’s ever-changing economy, we cannot rely on one source of income. Your job could end tomorrow. You need backup funds and career in that instance. There are lots of flexible jobs out there that you can do here and there. If you have the capacity, you can pursue a passion for baking, writing, teaching, etc. of which could potentially turn into a business in the future. These hobbies may lead you to pursue a dream career.

    how-to-work smart-not-hard-anti-productive-the-wong-blog-monica-wong


    Working smart is about having the self-awareness about your work style, as opposed to increasing your (ineffective and inefficient) hours.

    I have spent years trying to grow my blog through time commitment; it was by letting go of what wasn’t working (time wise) that my business took off without even needing me.

    If you’ve got any tips, I’d love to hear from you!

    Location: Holland Park, London

    Photographer: Brendan Donnelly (Insta here)

    Dunagrees | Top | Shoes | Bracelet | Nars Foundation in Ceylan | Nars Concealer in Ginger | Urban Decay 3 | Loreal Liquid EyelinerLancome Mascara |


    Your hub of travel guides


    I have a confession to make. I’m the world’s slowest travel blogger.

    I set sail on my backpacking adventure late 2014, covering South East Asia (excluding Thailand), Singapore and New Zealand. When my journey of cosmic wanderlust ended in 2015, I quickly ran into full-time work and found it impossible to publish every incredible place I visited. Well, better late than never. As a newbie freelancer, who has more time to dedicate to a little space on the net, I will finalise my ‘ProjectM’ series which will start in Australia and end in Thailand.

    Err, Mon, what is this ‘ProjectM’? Good question. I like you already.

    In 2014, I decided to quit my job to live my dream of travelling around the world, which I can wholeheartedly say was the best decision of my life. Subsequently, throughout my blog, I encourage you to run for your dreams. My blog originally launched as a style diary. During my backpacking adventure, I released a travel category. I named my experience ‘ProjectM’. In 2016, I changed my blog name to The Wong Blog, but I kept the name of my travels.

    I want you guys to be able to have travel guides ready for when you visit, so I have added sub-tabs to my travel section. It’s at the top of this page, is super swishy and looks like this:


    Each country will have a digestible travel guide. The cities within those countries will have my more detailed experience.

    Oh, and if you’re on Instagram, my backpacking adventures are tagged: #ProjectMCambodia, #ProjectMThailand, #ProjectMLaos, #ProjectMVietnam, #ProjectMSingapore, #ProjectMNewZealand & #ProjectMOZ.

    I’m looking forward to being with you throughout our travels. If you have any questions or need recommendations, you can comment on my blog below, Instagram or Tweet me.

    Location: Zi world

     Nars Foundation in Ceylan | Nars Concealer in Ginger | Urban Decay 3 | Loreal Liquid EyelinerLancome Mascara |


    Why I quit my job to be a freelancer

    I can’t tell you how excited I am to write this post. If you’re dreaming about dropping out of the hamster-cage-daily-grind, I’ve written this article for you.

    On a cold, September morning, I slinked into the office. I’d been doing this, at 9 am, every day, for five years. On this day, I looked around at my other peers. I didn’t relate to any of them. I knew I was different. Most worked furiously on their laptops, stimulated. Others were lifeless & dreaming of a different life. Deep down, I realised I was in the wrong place.

    There are gazillions of articles out there telling you how to earn money without holding down a so-called “real job”. From an ex-permanent employee, I want to give you an honest guide to freelancing without the bull. I’ll go through the emotional truth including dealing with doubt, lack of motivation and the implications on your social life.

    Bare in mind that I wholeheartedly endorse this life decision. It’s been a dream so far, and I would encourage any potential entrepreneur who has the passion, capacity and capability to do it.


    Should you take the leap?

    Honest question. Do you love what you do? Do you wake up in the morning, invigorated or do you wake up with fear & terror?

    If it’s the latter, then I have a quote for you, “there’s no reason to do sh*t you hate. None.”

    Freelancing isn’t for everyone. You need to be smart, have great work ethic & real passion. You need the motivation & emotional drive to push you to achieve your dreams.


    Okay, so I would love to tell you to pack up your stuff, tell your boss that you’re off, throw your papers in the air, fist-pump your colleagues and quit today. I highly recommend that you save a significant amount of money before you do. Every business needs capital. You need backup funds to pay for periods of the unknown. Sell everything you have. I’m deadly serious. My friends make fun of me because I eBay everything but excess possessions are counterproductive in a risky  lifestyle. There are a million handbags in the world; life-changing experiences happen once. Make a cuppa, sit down & write down the costs of your outgoings and how much you’ll need to make each month.

    One of the major disadvantages of not working for an organisation is not having any company benefits – eek! I miss my discounts so much but let’s talk about the important stuff. As you will no longer have health and life insurance (which we take for granted, but it’s worth a lot), I would suggest setting up your own. Vitality is a good one because it rewards you with discounts for being healthy and you get subsided gym membership with Virgin Active. Otherwise, there’s Aviva which is pricier, but the critical illness cover is comprehensive because it protects you & your family. Otherwise, you’re covered with LV, and it’s a great value.

    Tax & Pensions

    You’ll need to register as self-employed with HMRC. Once registered, you’ll receive your unique tax payers reference number. HMRC will nudge you to submit your tax return each year. You can file it yourself or hire an accountant. It’s my first one this year, and I’m hoping that I won’t find it too taxing (hehe, get it?). Keep all of your invoices, remittances & receipts as you can offset and expense any payments like travel & website costs from your earnings.

    Transfer your company pension into a self-employed pension. Otherwise, if you withdraw it, you will lose the value that the government put in. My pension is currently with NEST, as I am my boss, I top up and pay myself. When I top up my pension, the government tops it up too!

    Where to find freelance work?

    Depending on the field that you want to enter, the most successful freelancers are represented by an agency. You have dedicated agents finding work for you on a regular basis.

    Alternatively, freelance recruitment agencies can find contracts for you. Contractors can earn a minimum of £250 – 1k a day. If you set up a limited company, you can pay less tax (I think it’s 12.5% but do not quote me on this) on earnings.

    Otherwise, you’ll need to build up your client base directly. The best sites for freelancers are PeoplePerHour, Upwork & Fiverr. Every highest earner from those sites has a story on Forbes. Read and be inspired by their stories.

    Doing all three at the same time is possible.

    Doubt, motivation & social life

    To be a successful entrepreneur, you need to have the confidence to take risks. The old saying goes, “If you don’t ask, you do not receive”. Your most powerful asset will be fear. It will present you with the commitment that you need to succeed. My post on improving your confidence is here.

    You already have the motivation to wake up and go to work every day. With freelancing, there is no safety blanket. If you don’t work, you don’t earn. The harder I work, the more I profit, instantly. That’s the beauty of it.

    The disadvantage is working crazy, unsociable hours. Your friends will want to meet up weekday evenings and weekends, lols, that never works on a freelance schedule. Freelancers don’t get paid leave. I can’t plan holidays anymore because a job could come up the day before. This will annoy some of the people in your life. You will become flakey AF.

    Closing remarks

    I quit my secure, permanent job late last year. I want to reassure you that it’s okay to want change. Initially, I was angry. I desperately wanted to fall head over heels in love with the corporate life. As a kid, all I ever wanted to be was a ‘business lady’ at a big company.

    Don’t get me wrong; I’ve loved some of the permanent jobs I’ve had. I’ve learnt so much from each role. Who knows? Maybe I’ll change my mind about freelancing. At this present time, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

    I’ll love to hear your experiences and whether you’re looking to take the plunge. Either option, I’ll be with you all the way.

    And if you’re a freelancer, my butterfly, what does it feel like to be free?


    Location: Holland Park, London

    Photographer: Brendan Donnelly (Insta here)

    Blouse | Top | Skirt | BraShoes | Bracelet | Nars Foundation in Ceylan | Nars Concealer in Ginger | Urban Decay 3 | Loreal Liquid EyelinerLancome Mascara |