Newcastle upon Tyne Stories and Tips

Chinatown & Blackfriars

From the Monument, head up Blackett Street towards St. James Park, over the roundabout and continue up Gallowgate. At the top turn left back on yourself and you'll see Rosies Bar. Turn right here and this is Stowell Street, the heart of Chinatown. Somewhat smaller and less hectic than such areas in Manchester or Liverpool, the area is home to many Chinese businesses such as restuarants, supermarkets and herballists.

There are some great restuarants here and some average ones. "Mangoes" is renowned for serving possibly the best dim sun in the city while "Lau's Buffet King" has a good self-service selection at reasonable prices.

The Chinese supermarket opposite Lau's sells everything from newspapers to squid and exotic and unusual eastern vegetables to Chinese ornaments and kitchen utensils. Around the time of the major Chinese holidays they offer a selection of fantastic fresh fish but at other times there is a ood choice of frozen fish that you won't find anywhere else in the city.

Formerly Bar 53, one of the city's most interesting undependent bars, on the corner of Stowell Street is a beautiful new Japanese restaurant, Nagomi. (I will be reviewing this in the future)

Near the supermarket you'll se a little arch-way leading to a pleasant cloister-type square. This is Blackfriars. On summer week-ends and mid-summer evenings there are sometimes concerts held here and it's a popular place for office workers to sit with a sandwich on fine days.

This was the site of a 13th-century friary. From the 16th to the early 20th century, this was used as a home for the needy. Today it houses craft shops and exhibitions relating to the city's history.

It also houses the Blackfriars Cafe-bar which is the UK's oldest purpose built restaurant having served as the monks' refectory. (See separate entry for restaurant review.)

At the very end of Stowell Street turn left just after Blackfriars and see some of the well-preserved city walls.

Just over to the right opposite you are a couple more restaurants but this time Japanese.

This area is somewhere fairly quiet to stroll around and offers some quite contrasting sights, the quiet contemplation of Blackfriars and the hustle and bustle of Chinatown. The local Chinese community is pressing to have an arch erected to designate that you are entering Chinatown. I hope this happens; this Chinese community is one of the most visible ethnic communities in the city and people from all sections of the community flock to these streets at Chinese New Year to see the Dragon dances and the wonderful fireworks.

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