“You’re cold because your body’s weak” a woman from northern China with heavily pencilled in eyebrows told me as I lay on her massage table.
It was the kind of abuse I’ve missed. It was of course nothing to do with the fact that it was a cold afternoon and for some reason in England Chinese masseuses insist you undress completely rather than wearing a little pair of pyjamas as you do in China.
I quizzed Jianhua Tang, the Shanghainese manager of Dr China at 415 North End Road, Fulham, about this and she responded by saying “human resources cost more in the UK”.
No kidding. It’s why the massages we ex-expats grew accustomed to having regularly in China cost five times more here. And it’s why I am in pursuit of the best quality, best value massage in London, mentioned here.
Lucky for me, Chinese health shops seem to be springing up all over the place tapping into the vanity of the British X Factor generation.
As I sat drinking tea and chatting about Shanghai after my massage, two guys with hoods and baseball caps who looked like they were going to hold up the shop, enquired about a hair growth serum being sold over the counter, which according to the word on the street “really works”.
I sat mystified as they were informed of the regenerative powers of ginger.
What “really worked” about Dr China for me was the authentic verbal abuse, the mushy Mando-pop being played in the massage room and the plastic cup of tea leaves and hot water afterwards.
An hour’s massage is £45. They also offer acupuncture from £28 a session and cupping for £15.
Meanwhile, if you want to feel like you are getting a massage on holiday in Thailand (think Koh Tao rather than Koh Samui) head to Singhra Thai at 391 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich.
I went there on the recommendation of reader EQ. A one-hour massage also costs £45 and similarly no pyjamas are provided.
The mood created by the authentic-smelling oil and the piped in music was only interrupted by the fire alarm outside which beeped intermittently to remind someone to change the batteries.
You get a good kneeing and elbowing for your money and the fake flowers add a thrifty Asian charm.
So the next challenge is to find decent Chinese food in London. Jianhua Tang says there is none and I’m tempted to agree with her.
Any recommendations for where a girl can get a decent mapo dofu?