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Oriental City. Need advice for tomorrow...

I'm heading to Oriental City in Collindale tomorrow for a late lunch. I have never been. I hear it's huge and you can spend a few hours there. I would like to be relatively focused in my adventures...if you have any specific recommendations for eats, I would very much appreciate it.

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  1. I don't know how much you know about Oriental City, so apologies if this sounds obvious, but I'd recommend the food court over the restaurants upstairs, if only because there will always be restaurants but the food court is kind of unique, and will only be there until, um, May, I think. I quite like the dim sum house in the food court (there are two dim sum places, but the one that's actually called "dim sum house" has a more interesting selection), but that's mainly because I have trouble resisting dim sum in general; I've had better dim sum elsewhere. Actually I think the main appeal of the food court is the food-court-ness of it; you can mix and match and everyone in the party can choose the dishes/cuisine that appeal to them most. There's one place that does really good salt-and-pepper tofu, but I can't remember which one it is; I think it's in the same general area as the dim sum house.

    Definitely take a look in the supermarket while you're there, if you can. I don't think there's anything there that you can't get elsewhere, but the great thing about it is that it's all in one place.

    There's also a durian stall (located just out the back of the main mall), and a Japanese crockery shop. There's a sushi bar opposite the supermarket; I think, but may be wrong, that it's run by Atari-Ya.

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    Oriental City
    399 Edgware Rd, Paddington, Greater London W2 1, GB

    3 Replies
    1. re: Kake

      Thanks guys! So--I hear the whole thing is set to be demolished in May of 2008--not just the food court. Is that right?

      Heading out in a couple of hours. Will be sure to report back!

      1. re: kristainlondon

        Yep, sorry, I was unclear, wasn't I? The whole thing is being demolished to allow for redevelopment. http://www.dimsum.co.uk/viewpoints/or... is the most recent report I've seen on what's going to happen. Although the writers of that report say they were promised by the developers that "the concept of Oriental City is protected for South East Asian businesses to fill the new development", they seem a bit sceptical about it actually happening.

        1. re: Kake

          Hi, I just thought I'd add here that Oriental City is set to close at the end of this month, May. Enjoy it while you can!

    2. Head for the food court and the roti canai stall in particular. Grab some roti (canai or telur) and curry. Enjoy. I've yet to find roti as good elsewhere in London - and I've eaten in all of London's Malaysian restaurants. It's a shame the whole place will close next year.

      After the roti, head upstairs to Shangri-la. It's a scruffy place serving home-style Hunanese food - very rare in London. The Chairman Mao belly pork is particularly good. So are the cold-dressed dishes. I hope you like chilli though.

      1. Was last there in April this year and unfortunately this place isn´t what it used to be, it´s as if the various shops and concessions are already winding down for closure having failed with the various petitions to stay alive. So for example the supermarket stocks fewer product lines than it used to and doesn´t price particularly competitively, the fish/sushi section within the supermarket now disappoints where once it used to uplift and the kaiten sushi place at the entrance to the supermarket is also a shadow of its former self. Sadly, I don´t believe that any relocation is proposed for the market, this is a closure plain and simple.

        Still it´s worth your while to visit and you may yet find some tasty morsels in the food court and upstairs restaurants along the lines of the suggestions from Kake and Ian. We used to like the Korean concession in the food court, name escapes me and not sure if it´s still going. Maybe you can nibble at 2 or 3 places in the food court and get a cross-sectional impression.

        Btw notice that you´ve posted on the Japan board about a prospective trip there in 2008 Q1. I am lining up a trip to Japan later this month, my 3rd this year and 4th overall and I have some ideas/suggestions for you. I will post these either on the Japan board or maybe send you some ideas offline if that´s helpful.

        1 Reply
        1. re: oonth

          Suggestions would be fantastic! I'm planning this to be a completely food-oriented trip, With maybe some sightseeing in between. :)

        2. OK, I'm back! Will post more to the blog in the next week or two but here's the gist:

          1. Dim Sum House: Definitely superior to the other dim sum place. We had the pork buns from both to compare and thought DSH offered a fluffier portion, lighter in style, and with more meat with more flavor. Also, the other portions we got from DSH--a scallop roll in particular--were much better than the ones we grabbed from the other dim sum place.
          2. The Japanese window was just average. We got a California roll and a tuna roll--basics that you shouldn't be able to mess up--and they were gloopy. The rice just wasn't good.
          3. Korean pancake from the Korean window. Really good. Could have used something to spice it up though.

          All in all, we had a great time at Oriental City--and it was pretty cheap. We didn't spend more than £7 at any of the windows.

          I would go again for the Japenese pottery place and also to try the Fat Boat? The Slow Boat? It's the place inside the supermarket--looks like you get a big pot of boiling water and can put lots of stuff in it. It looked intriguing. And in general, I just think it's a pretty weird and interesting place to spend the afternoon. It's definitely seen better days, and they've got to do something about the tattiness of all the photo signs, but it's random fun, for sure.

          The Supermarket was super. We bought three different bottles of sake and took them with us to Alexandra Palace to watch the fireworks and conduct a sake taste teset.

          We didn't even make it upstairs, so intrigued were we by Japanese pottery, the huge bags of rice in the supermarket, and the weird signs on all the food stands.

          And now I just have to mention it because it was a pretty exciting part of my day--I changed at Camden for the Edgware branch and the platform was pretty empty except for a very attractive man and a little girl--blond, 3ish. I was looking at them thinking they looked familiar--it was Chris Martin from Coldplay and daughter Apple. We hopped on the same car and I tried not to stare at them too much before they got off at Belsize. (He put his hood on on the tube and myself and one other woman were the only two to recognize them.)

          4 Replies
          1. re: kristainlondon

            I had to reply to this slightly old thread to thank Kake for the link to information about the closure of Oriental City. I'd heard the rumours but wasn't aware it will be closed by the end of this year. My mum and I have been going to OC (or Yaohan Plaza as it was formally known) for at least 7 years and will be very sad to see it go. For us, it is the only reason to visit Colindale (which I find quite a bleak and soulless area) - we always thought it would be very successful if it were in zone 1 or 2, though I can't think of a suitable new home for it.

            I have to agree with oonth's comment that it seems to be ready to give up the ghost, as many shops have closed - I remember the oriental bookshop, karaoke bar and kimono shop but these are now all gone. The gaming area is full of local hooded youths now, rather than the hardcore japanese gamer kids we used to see.

            I would really urge anyone who hasn't been to visit before it closes. The food court is wonderful and was absolutely packed when we visited today. The roti canai stall attracts a steady stream of visitors, but we get ours from Lemongrass - a consistently good Malaysian food hut. The atmosphere is buzzing and you can eat well (and be full) for under ten pounds.

            The supermarket is equally good - especially for herbs, sauces and vegetables that you might not be able to find in normal shops. We always stock up on the Japanese soy crackers and sweet things as they are often much lower in fat and calories than crisps and chocolate.

            Anyone looking for oriental dinnerware should head for the huge crockery shop as there is a sale on at the moment, with up to 70% off some sets. The patterns are beautiful and make a really chic addition to your dinner table - perfect for oriental-themed dinner parties.

            There is also a shop that's like a pound shop only slightly more expensive that sells everything from stationary to kitchenware. You'll always find something you need in here. It's especially good for Muji-style storage and office / study folders and pen pots etc (much cheaper than Muji though).

            Apologies for rambling on, but I just had to express my love for this half-deserted, slightly strange place. If you can visit just once before it closes, you won't be disappointed.

            1. re: DollyDagger

              I think my husband and I will make a trek next weekend. Will it be tough for a vegetarian?

              1. re: relizabeth

                I don't think it would be a problem, although it would be worth checking with the vendors before ordering, just in case they have used fish sauce or any other non-vegetarian ingredients which aren't immediately obvious. There is plenty of sushi, dim sum, tofu, soups and noodle dishes to keep veggies happy.

                As far as I'm aware, the roti canai we order from the Lemongrass malaysian food hut is vegetarian - (consisting of a small bowl of vegetable curry and two delicious paratha-style breads to dip in it).

                Some of the juice / smoothie huts are worth a visit because they have an immense range of fresh, interesting fruity drinks - as well as some soya milk creations too. Ordering is easy because everything is pictured and numbered on the walls of the huts.

                I hope you enjoy it - do report back if you go!

                1. re: DollyDagger

                  It was amazing! We plan on going back every two weeks until it closes. We shared a roti canai with potato and carrot curry and a serving of green beans from the other roti hut. My husband had a sea spice tofu from Bejing Kitchen. The tofu had that wonderful chewy texture without being deep fried that I cannot replicate at home. I fell off the vegetarian wagon and had steamed bbq pork bins from Dim Dum King. Scrumptious! I can't wait to go back and investigate more.