It was a rainy Saturday in between Nordic Christmas markets when we dropped into the launch of Lakwatsa (by invitation), a new bubble tea and snack lounge off Portobello Road in Notting Hill. The snacks (or merienda) on the menu mainly reflected the Filipino heritage of founder Claire Buyson though there were snacks from other parts of Asia too – a pan-Asian menu if you will.
The place itself is a lot of fun, with Scrabble tiles spelling out the bubble tea menu and swinging seats. There are stacks of magazines to read too.
The tastings started with half portions of passion fruit bubble tea and honeydew melon bubble tea. As a big fan of passion fruit, I found their passion fruit tea excellent and tangy. I never know what to think of honeydew products but I liked this better than I expected – I do think it could get cloying with its sweetness after a while though.
More bubble teas came out. This time an original milk tea and taro too. The former was milkier than we expected but was still very tasty; the latter was excellent – I love taro flavoured bubble tea.
Snacks were then brought out. Their Lakwatsa Prawn Toast was very good – it was served like a sandwich with a good amount of filling. The tangy and garlicky dipping sauce was brilliant alongside the fried morsels.
Lumpia Shanghai were fried Filipino spring rolls filled with pork and prawn and served with a sweet chili sauce dip. I quite liked them though they could have done with a bit more seasoning.
A selection of Gyoza were next. On this plate, three were filled with chopped mushrooms and the other three were a homogeneous blend of chicken. The former were alright though a bit undersalted while the chicken was too uniform in its texture and quite boring. Unfortunately the skins were not great either, being a bit on the tough side.
Tiger Prawn Tempura were huge and fried well but a little bland and needed the dipping sauce provided.
The final dish made up for the gyoza and prawns. Adobo Rice Balls were made by compressing rice around a tender bite of adobo stewed chicken. They were excellent but fell apart if you bit into them – a much better approach was to pop the entire thing into your mouth. The sauce for dipping was the adobo sauce used for cooking the chicken and I could have drunk it with a spoon. Overall, I’d recommend sticking to the brilliant Filipino snacks on offer – from what I understand, they’re Claire’s family recipes. I’d love to try their sweets the next time I’m there.
Prices seem very reasonable for this part of town: £3.40 for a bubble tea, 50p for extras (like popping boba) and savoury and sweet snacks ranging in price from £3 – £5 (for the savoury snacks, there’d be three pieces to a portion).
Thanks very much to Claire and also Freya at ‘i-am’ associates for the invitation.
7 Blenheim Crescent
London W11 2EE