When Jon and I first moved to London, our corporate flat was a block from the South Kensington tube station, and I had a lot of free time on my hands. So, no surprise that I dropped by the (free) V&A museum pretty often. But since we’ve moved to Islington, I’ve been back to the V&A maybe twice at most, which is too bad because the V&A is uniquely eclectic in today’s world of highly-specialized major museums. It’s a jumble in there, united only by a theme of “design.”
Kimonos and medieval triptychs just down the hall from Italian Renaissance sculptures. That sort of thing.
Well, this past Friday, Jon and I decided to check out July’s “Friday Late” theme named “The 2007 Village Fete,” which took place outdoors in the V&A’s gorgeous John Madejski Garden. The idea is to enjoy some mild summer weather with a happy crowd while playing “village fair games” with a twist.
First, we waited on an enormous ticket line for over an hour. We’d thought about giving up, but like the sheep we are, we reasoned that if the line was this long, it must be good. I amused myself by taking photos of people standing on line.
Much as I love the V&A Great Hall with its super-pretty-super-phallic Chihuly sculpture (photo at top), I was unamused by the hapless ticket people at the main desk. Five people at the desk and they can’t manage to figure out an efficient system to process ticket sales.
Once in the Garden, we were disappointed (though not surprised) that it started to rain. Too bad, because some of the games looked like fun. There was, for example, the “Inflate a Mate” stall, where you drew a picture of your friend on a balloon and then inflated it with helium. Or the British party staple, the tombola.So we gamely tried to have fun (after all, we’d waited on that huge line to get in, right?), but the rain and cold were too much. Plus, we were hungry. But where to eat in South Kensington that’s not a big chain or expensive-and-crappy?
Cue the Kulu Kulu conveyor belt sushi place near the South Ken station.Usually, for our conveyor-belt sushi fix, Jon and I end up at Itsu or Yo! Sushi, and even at those places, we never walk out without spending £40 together. But it turns out Kulu Kulu is really cheap. All the dishes passing by on the conveyor belt are priced between £1.80 and £3, which I contrast with Itsu or Yo!’s prices that can hit £6 per plate.
There isn’t much variety offered, and the sushi chef can barely be bothered to tightly roll and slice the maki, but for honkin’ huge and fresh pieces of salmon, tuna and agedashi tofu, you can’t pay more than £3 per dish you pull off the conveyor belt.
So even though the dining room at Kulu Kulu’s South Kensington location is small and dated, the green tea is free, and we left with tummies full and just £30 poorer. Not bad.
I have to note that the threesome sitting to our right appeared to be a budget-conscious group of high-schoolers who repeatedly asked the servers how much each dish on the conveyor belt was. Of course, this being the UK, this same group didn’t think twice about ordering several bottles of wine despite avoiding any £3 dish like the plague. I thought that was entertaining, and I was glad we left before their drinking really got under way.