2223 Liverpool Street,

 NOW is a new dim sum diner from the people who brought us Ping Pong dim sum. This new eatery has opened up on Liverpool Street, just opposite McDonalds, and really it works in a very similar way to McDonalds. You queue up, you order an all-in-one meal, and they give you your meal in disposable cardboard packaging… but there the similarities end. While McDonalds is cheap and grimy and leaves you wishing you hadn’t bothered, NOW is cheap and cheerful and leaves you feeling like you popped to Hong Kong for five minutes during your lunch break.

You walk through the door and outside is an unmistakeably London scene of ten black cabs queuing up at Liverpool Street station’s taxi rank. Inside, however, you are greeted with psychedelic wallpaper, patterned with photos of the bright lights of Hong Kong, and Chinese pop music playing in the background. There are fridges packed with Tsing Tao and bubble tea, and stacks of bamboo steamers. And of course, there are hoards of people lining up to buy their takeaway dim sum combos.

There are just so many fun things to try at NOW. Before you’ve even given a thought to the dim sum, there is a whole array of homemade juices, which come in an assortment of exotic blended flavours:

  • Mango and Mint
  • Apple and Green Tea
  • Carrot and Ginger
  • Pineapple and Coconut
  • Virgin Mary Wasabi

These juices taste healthy and fresh, and are the perfect accompaniment to one of NOW’s light and tasty salads on a hot summer’s lunch hour. (Although the Virgin Mary Wasabi might leave you gasping for water… my tip: take it home and add it to a shot of vodka).

NOW also serve bubble tea, a Chinese iced tea drink that was invented in Taiwan. Bubble tea is so called because of the balls of tapioca or jelly at the bottom of the glass – the bubbles. The bubble tea flavours are even more wacky and exotic than the juice flavours, with flavour combinations such as:

  • Lemongrass and Jasmine
  • Melon and Lime
  • Raspberry and Black Pepper
  • Lychee and Ginger
  • Pear and Kumquat
  • Strawberry and Vanilla

Everything in NOW is under £5, with certain “nibbles” and sides and sweets for just 99p, such as seaweed prawn crackers, steamed pork buns, and “coconut experience”. There are also many healthy salad options, starting at just £1.99.

The trademark dish is of course the dim sum. NOW’s dim sum come in sets of six, and are beautifully presented in hexagonal cardboard takeaway boxes. With the dim sum there are thankfully just 3 selections to choose from:

  • Classic
  • Seafood
  • Vegetarian

Each selection comes with six intricate little dim sum pieces, some white, some green, some yellow; some round, some square, some shaped like little leaves or shells. Each selection is £3.99, which, when you consider that each of your six little parcels has been hand made and freshly steamed, is very good value.

As well as the salads and dim sum combinations, there are also more filling “rice pots” available. The vegetable rice pot comes with brown rice, and the chicken with coconut rice, which, in my opinion gives them the edge over similar rice pots that are available at other Chinese fast-food places.

NOW is a great idea and I’m hoping more of them will be popping up around the place as the trend catches on. For now though, if you’re in Liverpool Street and need a quick bite to eat, don’t give that big yellow “M” a second glance: head straight over the road to NOW. Where else can you dine out for a fiver, on such fresh, healthy, and morst importantly *tasty *food? NOW has got it just right.

For more information, visit the NOW webiste.

Reviewed by: Emily Boyd