“Hello sailor!”


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Bigbe Chicken


Having read reviews online (here and here)  I decided to check out new Taiwanese chicken place Bigbe. It’s just on the edge of Chinatown a trip there involves going past my longtime favourite The Canton. You can’t live on pork and duck on rice – apparently – so it seemed like a good idea to check out the deep fried chicken.

Bigbe is little more than a few deep fat fryers, a counter and some very nice staff but what else do you need? Well, there was a very territorial Jay Rayner lookalike perched on one of the window stools munching on chicken drumsticks. He looked like a man enjoying himself. Maybe you need that too. Was he an actor?

The chicken breast I had was amazing, the outside crispy, flavoured by the sprinkled on spices; the meat moist, very hot and a lovely contrast to the exterior crisp. While we were waiting for our side orders of sweet potato fries a dozen people came through the shop ordering mostly the popcorn chicken which they would munch off sticks as they wandered off down the street. The sweet potato fries were lovely – again crispy on the outside and thermonuclear hot on the inside – but probably not needed. This really is a snack place and the snack is chicken and the place to eat it is the street.

Bigbe Chicken
10 Little Newport St,
London WC2H 7JJ

Ashes: Steve McQueen at Thomas Dane, London

Ashes from Steve McQueen's film

Steve McQueen’s film Ashes, 2014

As is always the case with gallery shows I spend months meaning to see I went to see the Steve McQueen exhibition at Thomas Dane on its penultimate day. There’s two sculptures in the old building and a video projection in the new one showing a continuous loop of Ashes, the story as told by his friends of a young man’s drug related death. Not due to the drugs themselves but at the hands of the men who owned the drugs that Ashes found on a beach in Granada and that he thought were a lucky break.

The video show a young black man in shorts and a necklace like one of hundreds of fishermen you can see working on the beaches on Caribbean islands like Grenada. He’s shot on Super-8 balancing on the prow of an orange and blue boat, messing around – young, smiling, muscular, vibrant and very much alive. Ashes draws the eye, the camera loves his vitality and it’s hard to look away.

Part of the voice over goes “They shot him in the hand for him to let go of what he was holding. And when they shoot him in the hand, he let go. But he tried to run and then they shoot him in the back and when he fell one of them guys went over to him and shoot him up around his belly and his legs and thing. And that was about it.” [Thanks to TeleSur for the transcript.]

It’s a story simply told of a life ending early for no good reason, one of greed, cruelty and exploitation that in its visual simplicity echoes back to Ashes ancestors who were in all probability brought to Granada to work on the plantations. Its power is in drawing together the lives of so many young black men who’ve died before their time.

Adrian Searle reviewed it in The Guardian and Sarah Kent reviewed it on The ArtsDesk website. You’ll enjoy Steve McQueen on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, trust me.