How London’s Asian meals scene is utilizing design to face out
After living in the UK for more than 20 years, Filipino-born, CPB London head of design June Frangue has observed how ESEA London restaurants have embraced mouth-watering designs in recent years. Here he picks eight of his favourites
“The soul never thinks without an image,” Aristotle once said. “Food is the key to my heart,” my Tinder profile once proclaimed. However incongruous these two quotes may seem, they speak to me personally. It is where the soul and the heart meet, where my vision and palate superswipe each other.
Being a Filipino immigrant in the UK for more than 20 years and a design director at CPB London for the last four, I have always been fascinated by the emerging Asian food scene in London – mainly small and independent, serving up the food I grew up with or the umami flavours I’ve always craved from my neighbouring Asian countries.
I remember the days when Wagamama opened in Bournemouth while I was studying circa 2007. We were bundled into a canteen-style seating arrangement, nervously sitting next to strangers in extremely close proximity. It was bright and minimal inside with an open kitchen. There was no sticky and heavy padded plastic à la carte booklet nor a freshly wiped laminate menu in sight. It was exciting. The waiter arrived and pointed at your menu-cum-placemat.
Everything was san-serif, clearly spaced and hierarchical. And the logo. It was Helvetica-ish with a red star. I wasn’t sure but the logo was giving me PRC and not land-of-the-rising-sun vibes. But what it did to me then, as a young designer on the cusp of graduating, was give me the exciting feeling that there was a new and contemporary way Asian food was being presented.
Top: Bao London; Above: Supa Ya Ramen