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The Filipino dessert-drink halo halo, as seen at Mamasons, with purple ube ice cream on top
Halo Halo at Mamasons
Mamasons

The Best Milk-Based Drinks in London

Including peanut milk, ayran, falooda, lassi, and more

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Halo Halo at Mamasons
| Mamasons

The rise of the milkshake as the machine that kills fascists has been meteoric, taking over where the egg and guitar left off. To ‘milkshake’ is now a verb, to the extent McDonald’s — the pre-eminent purveyor of cheap shakes in the country — has taken to prohibiting their sale in cities where anti-fascist protests are taking place. But revolution thrives on imagination, and this is not necessarily a bad thing.

When Nigel Farage got hit by a Five Guys £5.25 banana and salted caramel milkshake it was reminder that a) Five Guys by default is now part of the resistance and b) how ludicrously expensive Five Guys milkshakes are. This somehow makes it even funnier, that someone paid to drink it and then thought: “No, it would be a better use of my money to lob it at a politician’s midriff.” So a theorem: the more elaborate and tasty the drink, the higher the disrespect. More importantly, London has a rich tradition of milk and yoghurt based drinks borrowed from all the cultures that make it a great food city. Far from lamenting the lack of McShakes, everyone could use this opportunity to familiarise themselves with the range of colour and splatter that can be produced using these flavoured milks and lacto-ferments as a matter of good praxis.

For what could be more of a par than being hit by a drink from a community whose presence in this country you oppose? Of course though, this would be a waste of a good drink: the following is a completely unrelated list of the best milk and yoghurt shakes in town.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Peanut milk at Bao

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31 Windmill St, Fitzrovia
London W1T 2JN, UK

Still the best drink at Bao, no matter what ingenious concoctions the bartenders come up with. A tall small glass takes you back to, if not your childhood, then the childhood of owners Erchen Wai Ting and Shing Tat — sweet, comforting balm that hits both the austerity and nostalgia buttons that the milk at the end of a bowl of cereal does for most Westerners. One is never enough. On the thin side.

Peanut milk at Bao, right
Bao [Official Photo]

2. Doogh at Taste of Pakistan Restaurant and Take away

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369 Hanworth Rd
Hounslow TW4 5LF, UK
020 8572 1298

Although in Hounslow, Taste of Pakistan serves a London-wide, predominantly Muslim community who devoutly make the trek because they know how special it is. This means that they don’t sell alcohol, but the best accompaniment to glorious spatchcocked chickens, whole roasted lamb legs and chapli kebabs glistening with fat on their undersides is doogh, fragrant and green-flecked, of course served out of a huge jar that still has the sticker on, true Desi style.

Naan, doogh and lassi at Taste of Pakistan
Feroz Gajia

3. Ayran at Neco Tantuni Kunefe Salonu Enfield

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4 Brick Ln
Enfield EN3 5BA, UK
020 8804 8909

What is the best single piece of kitchen equipment people wish they could have in their home? A sous-vide machine? An artisan Japanese knife? 4 (four) ovens? No, the answer is clearly an ayran machine. Seeing these at any Turkish restaurant is a joy, watching how the ayran constantly flows and aerates, leaving a bubbly sink of foam. Not every restaurant that serves ayran has one, but one place that does is Neco Tantuni in Ponders End. Get one for the tantuni and then one for the kunefe.

Ayran machine
Feroz Gajia

4. Badam cashew milk at Dosa Express

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547 High Rd
Wembley HA0 2DJ, UK

When you purvey the wall of dosa at Dosa Express, crossing off potential orders in your head like a bingo card, don’t miss the one in the corner: badam cashew milk. Golden yellow and sweet as barfi, this is like Bao’s peanut milk pumped up on almonds. It’s possible to get this as accompaniment to paper thin dosa spiked with paneer szechwan style (ie. with sriracha) but really it’s dessert in itself.

5. Turmeric lattes at Everywhere

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The idea of turmeric lattes becoming ‘a thing’ is amusing to anyone from south Asia, even more so the branding of them as ‘golden milk,’ which sounds euphemistic. The healing properties of haldi are now well known in the West, but its staining properties — for anyone who has found their fingernails looking jaundiced days after using it — are even greater.

6. Mora con leche at Leños & Carbon

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113 Elephant Rd, Elephant and Castle
London SE17 1LB, UK

Fruit is a big deal in Colombia — fruit juices even more so. In Elephant and Castle, one of London’s Colombian hubs, the monopoly on fruit is owned by Chatica, a tienda under the arches that imports these technicolor marvels from across South America. Soapy guanabana, acidic lulo, and mora, an Andean species of blackberry. Ask for these in any restaurant, Lenos and you will be asked ‘con agua’ or ‘con leche’ — the mora is good with both, and even in milk is a striking Grimace purple.

Tomas Jivanda/for Eater London

7. Mango lassi at THATTUKADA

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229 High St N, East Ham
London E6 1JG, UK

Has there ever been a bad mango lassi? Like Woody Allen’s definition of pizza (and sex): even when its bad its still pretty good. Thattukada’s mango lassi is more than good, with so much pulped mango and yoghurt one has to strain to suck it through the straw. Somehow it ends up tasting more of a mango than an actual mango.

Tomas Jivanda/Eater London

8. Falooda at Dawat Southall

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177-179 The Broadway
Southall UB1 1LX, UK
020 8574 0791

Southall has long been the site of anti-fascist resistance from the Indian community, who opposed the National Front’s presence during the 1970s. If it happened again in today’s climate the milk drink of choice for hurling might be Lahori-style falooda. The version at Dawat is legendary and here the Persian inflected rose milk comes out looking like a strawberry knickerbocker, betrayed only by the addition of basil seeds that sit on top like frog spawn.

9. Hojicha salt cheese tea at Kissaten

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30 Brewer St, Soho
London W1F 0SS, UK

Yes this exists, yes it is delicious. Salt cheese tea has taken over Asia in a way not seen since, well bubble tea, but has yet to really take off in London. Kissaten, along with dessert parlour Yi Fang, are one of the few places tentatively introducing it. It’s well worth trying, salty cream cheese often works well in desserts, both counteracting and accentuating sweetness, here it balances out the cloying notes of nutty, roasted hojicha milk while providing a fluffy head to sip it through.

Deliveroo [Official Photo]

10. Halo Halo at Mamasons Dirty Ice cream

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91 Kentish Town Rd
London NW1 8NY, UK

A junkyard of a dessert, a glorious mix of colour and texture that defies explanation, this is maybe the be all and end all of milk based drinks. From bottom to top there’s coconut gel, jackfruit, red bean, ice, evaporated milk, leche flan, wafer, purple yam ice cream and cornflakes, all useful shrapnel that would add to a dry cleaning bill. To be covered in Halo Halo would be the ultimate act of disrespect.

Halo Halo at Mamasons Dirty Ice cream
Omar Shah

11. Concretes at Shake Shack Victoria Nova

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172 Victoria St, Westminster
London SW1E 5LB, UK

Concretes exist in the liminal zone where a milkshake technically starts to become an ice cream. This is actually a very good place to be in indeed. A clever aspect of Shake Shack’s seemingly never ending roll out is the exclusive concrete, whereby each location has its own version, often collaborations with established names like St John or Mast Brothers. One of the most satisfying is the Victoria specific one, with peanut butter, salted caramel, salted peanuts and Paul A Young chocolate, a concoction one imagines would also be satisfying to throw. First milkshakes, then concrete(s) — it’s a slippery slope.

Shake Shack [Official Photo]

1. Peanut milk at Bao

31 Windmill St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2JN, UK
Peanut milk at Bao, right
Bao [Official Photo]

Still the best drink at Bao, no matter what ingenious concoctions the bartenders come up with. A tall small glass takes you back to, if not your childhood, then the childhood of owners Erchen Wai Ting and Shing Tat — sweet, comforting balm that hits both the austerity and nostalgia buttons that the milk at the end of a bowl of cereal does for most Westerners. One is never enough. On the thin side.

31 Windmill St, Fitzrovia
London W1T 2JN, UK

2. Doogh at Taste of Pakistan Restaurant and Take away

369 Hanworth Rd, Hounslow TW4 5LF, UK
Naan, doogh and lassi at Taste of Pakistan
Feroz Gajia

Although in Hounslow, Taste of Pakistan serves a London-wide, predominantly Muslim community who devoutly make the trek because they know how special it is. This means that they don’t sell alcohol, but the best accompaniment to glorious spatchcocked chickens, whole roasted lamb legs and chapli kebabs glistening with fat on their undersides is doogh, fragrant and green-flecked, of course served out of a huge jar that still has the sticker on, true Desi style.

369 Hanworth Rd
Hounslow TW4 5LF, UK

3. Ayran at Neco Tantuni Kunefe Salonu Enfield

4 Brick Ln, Enfield EN3 5BA, UK
Ayran machine
Feroz Gajia

What is the best single piece of kitchen equipment people wish they could have in their home? A sous-vide machine? An artisan Japanese knife? 4 (four) ovens? No, the answer is clearly an ayran machine. Seeing these at any Turkish restaurant is a joy, watching how the ayran constantly flows and aerates, leaving a bubbly sink of foam. Not every restaurant that serves ayran has one, but one place that does is Neco Tantuni in Ponders End. Get one for the tantuni and then one for the kunefe.

4 Brick Ln
Enfield EN3 5BA, UK

4. Badam cashew milk at Dosa Express

547 High Rd, Wembley HA0 2DJ, UK

When you purvey the wall of dosa at Dosa Express, crossing off potential orders in your head like a bingo card, don’t miss the one in the corner: badam cashew milk. Golden yellow and sweet as barfi, this is like Bao’s peanut milk pumped up on almonds. It’s possible to get this as accompaniment to paper thin dosa spiked with paneer szechwan style (ie. with sriracha) but really it’s dessert in itself.

547 High Rd
Wembley HA0 2DJ, UK

5. Turmeric lattes at Everywhere

London, UK

The idea of turmeric lattes becoming ‘a thing’ is amusing to anyone from south Asia, even more so the branding of them as ‘golden milk,’ which sounds euphemistic. The healing properties of haldi are now well known in the West, but its staining properties — for anyone who has found their fingernails looking jaundiced days after using it — are even greater.

6. Mora con leche at Leños & Carbon

113 Elephant Rd, Elephant and Castle, London SE17 1LB, UK
Tomas Jivanda/for Eater London

Fruit is a big deal in Colombia — fruit juices even more so. In Elephant and Castle, one of London’s Colombian hubs, the monopoly on fruit is owned by Chatica, a tienda under the arches that imports these technicolor marvels from across South America. Soapy guanabana, acidic lulo, and mora, an Andean species of blackberry. Ask for these in any restaurant, Lenos and you will be asked ‘con agua’ or ‘con leche’ — the mora is good with both, and even in milk is a striking Grimace purple.

113 Elephant Rd, Elephant and Castle
London SE17 1LB, UK

7. Mango lassi at THATTUKADA

229 High St N, East Ham, London E6 1JG, UK
Tomas Jivanda/Eater London

Has there ever been a bad mango lassi? Like Woody Allen’s definition of pizza (and sex): even when its bad its still pretty good. Thattukada’s mango lassi is more than good, with so much pulped mango and yoghurt one has to strain to suck it through the straw. Somehow it ends up tasting more of a mango than an actual mango.

229 High St N, East Ham
London E6 1JG, UK

8. Falooda at Dawat Southall

177-179 The Broadway, Southall UB1 1LX, UK

Southall has long been the site of anti-fascist resistance from the Indian community, who opposed the National Front’s presence during the 1970s. If it happened again in today’s climate the milk drink of choice for hurling might be Lahori-style falooda. The version at Dawat is legendary and here the Persian inflected rose milk comes out looking like a strawberry knickerbocker, betrayed only by the addition of basil seeds that sit on top like frog spawn.

177-179 The Broadway
Southall UB1 1LX, UK

9. Hojicha salt cheese tea at Kissaten

30 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 0SS, UK
Deliveroo [Official Photo]

Yes this exists, yes it is delicious. Salt cheese tea has taken over Asia in a way not seen since, well bubble tea, but has yet to really take off in London. Kissaten, along with dessert parlour Yi Fang, are one of the few places tentatively introducing it. It’s well worth trying, salty cream cheese often works well in desserts, both counteracting and accentuating sweetness, here it balances out the cloying notes of nutty, roasted hojicha milk while providing a fluffy head to sip it through.

30 Brewer St, Soho
London W1F 0SS, UK

10. Halo Halo at Mamasons Dirty Ice cream

91 Kentish Town Rd, London NW1 8NY, UK
Halo Halo at Mamasons Dirty Ice cream
Omar Shah

A junkyard of a dessert, a glorious mix of colour and texture that defies explanation, this is maybe the be all and end all of milk based drinks. From bottom to top there’s coconut gel, jackfruit, red bean, ice, evaporated milk, leche flan, wafer, purple yam ice cream and cornflakes, all useful shrapnel that would add to a dry cleaning bill. To be covered in Halo Halo would be the ultimate act of disrespect.

91 Kentish Town Rd
London NW1 8NY, UK

11. Concretes at Shake Shack Victoria Nova

172 Victoria St, Westminster, London SW1E 5LB, UK
Shake Shack [Official Photo]

Concretes exist in the liminal zone where a milkshake technically starts to become an ice cream. This is actually a very good place to be in indeed. A clever aspect of Shake Shack’s seemingly never ending roll out is the exclusive concrete, whereby each location has its own version, often collaborations with established names like St John or Mast Brothers. One of the most satisfying is the Victoria specific one, with peanut butter, salted caramel, salted peanuts and Paul A Young chocolate, a concoction one imagines would also be satisfying to throw. First milkshakes, then concrete(s) — it’s a slippery slope.

172 Victoria St, Westminster
London SW1E 5LB, UK

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