Marie Claire, April 2013
London-based Filipino foodie Claire Buyson is pioneering the new tea bar trend with her hip Notting Hill lounge, Lakwatsa (lakwatsa.com).
Lakwatsa means, “to chill” in Filipino.
I’ve wanted to open a lounge since I was a teenager sitting on a wall in Ladbroke Grove, thinking, ‘There’s nowhere to go!’ Even when I was at uni, there were no good non-alcoholic places open late. I wanted to create a getaway with free Wi-Fi, power sockets for every seat and a jukebox iPad to choose your own music. I love hammocks, so we’ve got swinging benches, loads of cushions, and stools made of old crates from French orchards.
This is a bubble-tea version of Starbucks.
There are two types: Fruit (with jasmine tea) and milk-based (with Assam tea) with tapioca pearls at the bottom. They all come in exotic tropical flavours. Filipinos love to snack on finger foods, called merienda, in-between meals. My mum always cooked Filipino food at home and taught me to appreciate home-cooked classics, such as fritters made of banana and jackfruit, and adobo rice balls, which are now my best-sellers. I’ve done a lot of travelling- that’s where I get my ideas. As well as the Philippines and Egypt, I’m inspired by the relaxed underground bars of San Francisco. You can’t beat a good English afternoon tea, so I’m planning to introduce a Far Eastern version at Lakwatsa soon.