Top 10 fun ways to celebrate your Birthday

Last month was my Birthday, so I wanted to share ten fun ways to celebrate your next one. If you have a friend who’s struggling for celebratory ideas, send them this post!

As a child, I celebrated on the giant slide at the Jungle Gym, then congratulated my own bravery with a Thomas the Tank themed kid’s meal at Little Chef. Sadly today, I’d probably be chucked out if I tried to replicate my childhood tradition, so let’s go for alternatives which are close, yet appropriate.

If you’re bored of celebratory meals and boogies, then I’ve written this for you. This post is in celebration with the fun squad at Swingers who provide: fresh cocktails, popular street food and (some) healthy competition with your friends.

1. Crazy Golf (which I did this year)

Swingers have every celebration covered. It gets busy but there are two nine-hole crazy golf courses at each venue. Everyone can order cocktails at the bar and on the golf pitch – the service is amazing. There’s the option of having your drink of choice served to you whilst you play! You don’t need to fuss over any dietary requirements because there’s a good range of street-food vendors at the venue. I recommend booking a table slot in advance so you and your mates can celebrate your best-golfing efforts and feast together. With a 3D photo podium, golfing buggy and flower arch there’s plenty of Insta-ready photo opportunities so you can treasure all of your Birthday memories.

2. Karaoke

You don’t have to be blessed with X-Factor worthy vocal cords to enjoy Karaoke! Popular in Asia, assemble all of your drinking buddies, pick your best fancy dress prop and sing like seals with your loved ones in a private room. A lot of venues now have swishy music technology with specialist drinks service, pizza & bar snacks and photobooths!

3. Axe Throwing 

This one looks and sounds dangerous but all coaches are fully trained and qualified to ensure you have a fun but safe experience. If you’re stressed (perhaps from turning a year older) then why not organise a healthy competition to sling your axes against your friends or colleagues. I like this one because there’s plenty of time to socialise between throws. It’s also great for bringing friends who may not know each other, together.

4. Escape Rooms 

I recommend this option for your geeky bunch of mates. If you were the kid who watched Crystal Maze and screamed at the TV: “I could do that!”, well, now you can! Gather your mates and go on a real-life adventure where you solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues and to complete the tasks. It’s a lot harder than it looks as there’s a set time limit to unveil.

5. Dart Club 

I know what you’re thinking, ‘why has she added this one?’ Honestly, it’s not an older gents sport anymore. Darts is becoming more popular with all ages and they’re opening a lot more branches in the UK. This one is for your therapeutic bunch. A lot of the venues provide delicious sharing food too.

6. Bowling

I have so many fond bowing memories as a kid. If you haven’t gone for ages then relive your childhood because it’s the best feeling ever. Bowling alleys are known to be filled with sticky carpets and warm beer, but now there are lots of boutique ones which have really good food, fine cocktails,
craft beer and excellent service.

7. Trampolining or Climbing

If you’re a sporty person and you have lots of active mates then you guys will have so much fun Trampolining or Climbing. It’s healthy, awesome fun. Some venues have resident DJs, planned parties and special events so check out what’s jumping around at your local one.

8. Go-Karting

This one is for the adrenaline chasers. Trying to overtake your mates is the fun part. I love driving so being able to crash is satisfying. A lot of venues have great hospitality facilities so celebrate your success after the race in the bar afterwards!

9. Clay Pigeon Shooting / Archery 

Gather your squad to take a trip to the serene countryside to master weaponry skills. With clay pigeon shooting, all will be given training on how to use a shotgun. If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at archery then the coach will teach how to aim your judgement. My idea would be to get everyone to the pub later to celebrate your victories!

10. Secret Cinema/Garden/Foodie Club 

If getting your mates anywhere out of the city is too much of a hassle then get everyone to buy tickets for Secret Cinema, festival or a Foodie club. It’s a great way to bring everyone together for a fun evening and lots of laughs.

If your friend’s Birthday is coming up and they’re struggling for ideas then send them this blog post and have a wonderful time.

Have I missed any activities that you’re burning to add to this list? Let me know! It’ll be great to share with each other the best ones.

Location: Swingers, The City

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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 👌🏼🍳

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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

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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

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Ultimate #botanicalpickmeup – last summer inside the Greenhouse.

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

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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


How I learnt to love my Chinese heritage through food

Before we tuck in and dive into my personal experience with Chinese heritage; I have a new restaurant recommendation.

It’s a fancy-pants one. Discreetly nestled on the 5th floor of Harrods, I’ve partnered up with Chai Wu to discuss delicious and authentic Chinese food with you.

Craving lavish lunch bites or got a special celebration coming up? Love your classics with a naughty twist? Then this is the place. I’m telling you, if you took your loved ones here, you would score major brownie points.


The interior is divine and #decorgoals. Chai Wu’s design incorporates the five elements of Chinese philosophy: wood, metal, water, earth and fire. I’m going to section up this post to discuss my personal experience with Chinese heritage and how food plays a major part in this.


If you haven’t read my blog before, I’m Monica Wong. I name my creative outlet ‘The Wong Blog’ as it’s a play on the ‘wrong’ words, *wink*. I’m British, Chinese & Vietnamese. I’m very lucky to have the best of many worlds regarding culture & heritage. I love food. I always have. I believe that if you have a good relationship with food, you’ll live a happier life.


Food is a showcase of love, and this is especially prominent within Asian communities. Culturally, Chinese parents often struggle to express and communicate their emotions to their children (in comparison to the Western culture). Enjoying food with our loved ones is important, it’s how we communicate our love for one another.


Chinese food has a diverse and complex history. With recipes and secret cooking techniques fed down generation to generation, each ingredient symbolises an experience.


In Chinese culture, red is a lucky colour. At Chinese New Year, we celebrate with a special feast. Traditionally, we eat lobster for luck, dumplings (symbolising pieces of gold) for wealth, fish provides prosperity and vegetables are for health. I learnt to fall in love with my heritage by appreciating, enjoying and spending quality with my family (a traditional Chinese dinner is bowls of rice for each member with shared dishes at the table) — we made sure we never missed dinner together as a family.


We always drink soup (bone broth) or Chinese green tea to wash down our food. This is to aid metabolism and to learn to appreciate your every bite.





The Food

Okay, so when you visit Chai Wu, I recommend ordering the following dishes above. Brace yourself. My guest & I went a bit overboard with the food. And I have hungry eyes.

The most popular dish is the Beijing Duck. It’s pricey, but it comes with a duck chef and a bonus dish of lettuce wrap or duck fried rice.

If you’re craving a steaming basket of dumplings, we opted for the lobster topped with beluga caviar and prawns with black truffle. Omfg, the Popcorn Shrimp with creamy, spicy dressing is the best thing you’ll ever taste. You can never go wrong with a side of salt & pepper squid.

We couldn’t be happier when the ice steam display came with the mixed sashimi platter. I’ve never seen anything like it; the other sushi restaurants need to up their game.

For mains, if you’re into a cocktail of tangy flavours, then go for the Sea Bass with three flavoured sauce. The sweet and sour chicken served with a dragon fruit is most Instagrammble’ of dishes: it’s pink, fruity and cheerful. Veg-wise, we ordered Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) with Oyster Sauce, BTW you’re not a meat-eater, they have a vegetarian menu.

I recently wrote a post on my favourite high teas in London; did you know that Chai Wu offer service this too? You can get ahead of me and book a slot on my funky widget at the bottom of this post.

Be sure to add Chai Wu on your shopping list the next time you’re at Harrods.

Location: Chai Wu, Knightsbridge, London

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Top 5 Afternoon Teas in London

If you’ve been following my Insta, you will of occasionally spotted a tower of treats, followed by my delight.

Afternoon tea is a British institution; it’s the ultimate indulgence. A few people have asked for recommendations on where to take friends & family in the big smoke.

If they enjoy the sandwich, tea & cake combo as much as I do, then here is my guide. Welcome to my top five Afternoon Teas in London.

Sketch (quirky)

Sketch is magical. The domed hall is passionately pastel pink with a confection of David Shrigley’s artwork on the walls. If you like tea with elegance & slightly eccentric decor, I’d recommend this place. Highlights: mini cheese toastie, cute ceramics with witty messages and the funky bathroom.

Tea Rating: 8/10

Sandwich Rating: 8/10

Scone Rating: 8/10 (warm & fluffy; bonus points for homemade jam) Cake Rating: 8/10 (mini spiced apple tart was my fave)

Recommendation: go with the girls.

Sanderson (quirky)

The Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea Party at Sanderson is a childhood dream come true. There are lots of quirks; I think I said ‘ooh’ fifty times that day. The menu is inside an old book, the sugar is in a jewellery box, and the flowers are edible. The Courtyard Garden has a laid back and chilled vibe. Highlights: different flavours of bread, pocket watch macaron, drinkable dessert and passionfruit ice cream.

Tea Rating: 8/10

Sandwich Rating: 8/10 (sandwiches are great, but I wanted more because I like carbs)

Scone Rating: 7/10

Cake Rating: 8/10 (mini spiced apple tart was my fave)

Recommendation: go in the summer to lounge in the courtyard. Go if you have the dietary requirement as they cater to those.

Browns (classic)

If you’re looking for a side-serving of grandeur and sophistication with your tea, then book a table at Browns. Classy and traditional, Queen Victoria used to have her tea here. I was impressed by the range of infusions. BTW: tea, sandwiches & cakes are unlimited. Step to it. Highlights: Coronation chicken sandwich (I asked for more of those bad boys), spiced pumpkin and ginger eclairs.

Tea Rating: 9/10

Sandwich Rating: 9/10 (bagels & sandwiches are served)

Scone Rating: 8/10

Cake Rating: 7/10

Recommendation: take your parents to this one.

The Goring (classic)

If a Belgravia-based hotel were a person; it’d probably be a smart and a well-dressed gentleman that knows how to charm your pants off. Welcome to The Goring. Kate Middleton’s favourite hotel. It has a more boutique feel compared to the bigger hotels like The Ritz. It’s quintessentially British. Highlights: giant macaron and a blood-orange-mousse dome. You’re offered refills of tea without having to ask.

Tea Rating: 9/10

Sandwich Rating: 8/10 (you get bagels & sandwiches)

Scone Rating: 8/10

Cake Rating: 7/10

Recommendation: Order the Bollinger Tea (Goring’s own special loose leaf tea blend).

Mayfair Kitchen (bit of both)

Set in the sophisticated yet unassuming Mayfair Hotel — it’s the most contemporary of the bunch, and surprisingly best value for money. If you’re not looking for traditional then this is your best bet, it’s afternoon tea with a Mediterranean twist. Highlights: bruschetta, Amaretto or Sicilian lemon scones with vanilla mascarpone. I’m currently craving the white peach and oregano pannacotta as I write this.

Tea Rating: 7/10

Sandwich Rating: 8/10 (you get bagels & sandwiches)

Scone Rating: 7/10

Cake Rating: 8/10 Recommendation: go with your mates for catch ups as it’s got a brunch-y vibe.

The runners up are The Waldorf & The Dorchester. Overhyped: Aqua Shard (the view was breathtaking, but I didn’t like the food). Places I’m planning to go to next: Ritz, Claridges, Fortum & Mason, Savoy and The London Edition.

I hope my post has helped you organise your next gathering filled with scones, clotted cream, finger sandwiches and cakes.  If it has, I’d love to hear from you: we can be friends on Twitter here, Instagram here and Facebook here.

Bon Appétit!

Location: London

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