Bang Bang Oriental | A Phoenix From The Ashes of Colindale’s Oriental City

This is a really happy day. I’m so thrilled that I’m actually sitting here grinning like a loon as I write this, having just this second got home from Bang Bang Oriental. It opened this weekend and I was there like a shot.

Bang Bang Oriental, you see, is the replacement for Oriental City which was one of my favourite sources of East Asian food in London.

“When Oriental City closed, I cried.

You probably think I’m exaggerating, don’t you? But on the day the food court sold it’s last bowl of laksa we drove all the way home from a holiday in Scotland… and I insisted we go straight to OC so I could say farewell.

I ate. And then I cried.”

I can’t quite believe it’s been nine years since we lost Oriental City given that the hole in my culinary heart has never healed. Since then I’ve been raging against the unnecessary closure (from what I gathered, investors buying the site insisted on vacant possession, thus killing a thriving community and culinary centre, but then pulled out of the deal at the last minute) and have watched successive projects to rebuild and reopen the centre come and go.

This time, I got my hopes up as plans for a modern newly built centre seemed more solid.

Today, I was able to see for myself and it was so exciting.

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Bang Bang Oriental is a little more bling than its predecessor – designed by architects Stiff + Trevillion, the first floor food hall is a soaringly high-ceilinged cavern with huge windows to one end and skylights in the roof letting in tonnes of light. There is seating for 450, a vast improvement over the quickly-filled seating area in Oriental City, and there are over 20 kiosks arranged around it offering food from a range of East Asian cuisines. Downstairs is home to Golden Dragon, a flagship restaurant that opened last week and can seat 300.

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We arrived early, around 11.30 am and many of the stalls were not ready to trade for another half an hour or so. I’ve been told the opening hours will be 10.30 am until 9.30 pm, so I imagine as the vendors get used to their new kitchens, everything will be up and running much earlier going forward.

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I felt quite emotional placing my first order at Cafe La Viet – a portion of 4 pork-filled Cha Nem (£4.50).

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After that I had a pork-filled bao (£3.95) from Taiwanese Street Food.

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Pete shared my Vietnamese spring rolls before ordering a nasi goreng (£7.80) from Coconut Tree.

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I finished with a still-warm-from-the-oven cheese tart from Wonderful Patisseries. We also bought a medium sized cheese cake from them to bring home.

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How was it?

We really enjoyed our lunch and I know I was grinning with happiness for most of the time we were there. I would have eaten more if only to be greedy but I decided to be sensible as I’m sure we’ll be back before very long at all! My favourite was my first dish, those crunchy spring rolls were so damn good! The Taiwanese bao was not what I expected – deliciously soft pork and some crunchy lettuce but no peanuts, no coriander, no pickle and a bao that very quickly collapsed before I’d eaten very much. The cheese tart was lovely, but next time we go I’m sure the rest of their range will be available, which I’m keen to try – we could see them hard at work in the kitchen but not much had come out of the oven by the time we left.

Prices were certainly higher than Oriental City days – in some cases significantly so – but not beyond what is reasonable in today’s economy and still very fair. Portions were varied; Pete’s nasi goreng was excellent but quite a lot less generous than what he used to enjoy at Oriental City whereas I thought the four spring rolls were really good value.

The mix of kiosks is a little different too. I would say there are more Chinese options (though with a lot of variety, everything from dumplings to roast duck, Sichuan to dim sum and even the dishes of a Hong Kong cha chaan teng). Japanese food is better represented with kiosks serving sushi and tempura, ramen and gyoza, yakitori grilled meat, katsu curry, eel on rice and classic bento boxes. Alongside these are a Thai, two Vietnamese, a Malaysian, two bakeries, a cafe and a bar for alcoholic drinks. I have read that there will also be a Korean stall but we didn’t spot it today – there are only a couple of kiosks not yet taken so perhaps it will be in one of these.

I like that the site has been designed with sustainability in mind – there is a bio-fuel cylinder that will use food waste to generate energy, and crockery is permanent rather than disposable. There was a hiccup with the smoke / fire detectors that resulted in alarms screeching for the first 20 minutes we were there, but staff reassured customers that we didn’t need to evacuate and succeeded in silencing it as quickly as they could.

I’ve given the permanent menu prices above, but note that food hall kiosks are offering a 20% discount to all customers until 24 July. Please confirm this yourself before placing your order.

Bang Bang Oriental is located at 399 Edgware Rd, London NW9 0AS and shares a car park with Morrison’s supermarket. It is also handy for a number of local bus routes and a twenty minute walk from Colindale tube station.

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12 Comments to "Bang Bang Oriental | A Phoenix From The Ashes of Colindale’s Oriental City"

  1. tezza

    I love the look of this place and am drooling! On my list of places to visit when next in London.

    Reply
  2. Daniel

    I had a quick look around today, but did’t have time to actually eat here. However, I will be making a pilgrimage this week. The full opening is on the 10th, so I hope there’ll be a full complement of traders up and running by then.

    Banh Mi first, I reckon. Anyhoo, there’s a 20% discount in the food hall from the 11th to the 24th of this month, so fill yer boots!

    There’s a lot of people who desperately miss the old Oriental City, but who may have given up on a replacement ever appearing. So everybody needs to spread the word by any channel available to you.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    I visited the second weekend too and there were still some issues – most traders didn’t open till noon, though the stated hours are 10.30 onwards. That was frustrating. And many stalls were super slow at taking in orders so queues were long and slow moving. I’m hoping these will be ironed out as traders become more used to the drill!

    Reply
  3. Su

    The stalls are lovely. Food are nice my only criticism is the music is way too loud and noisy.Customers go there to enjoy the food n to chat . The music too loud I have to shout to talk to my friend. I would enjoy way better if there is no music. If they really want music …put Oriental – Chinese,Korean and Japanese music is more soothing than the loud noisy music

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    I would definitely contact the owners and make that point, as you are right that if the music is so loud you can’t talk to your companions, that’s definitely too loud!

    Reply
  4. kaveyeats

    Yes, let’s get a date. I’m going with some foodie friends on a Friday soon, I’ll email you.

    Reply
  5. Chris

    I really like the place where there is so much of diversity and options. However, I never managed to try out many stalls are they still display cash only. In fact the bar has the notice that card machine not working so Cash Only.

    I was not even given contact details of the stall owner to find out when card would get accepted as it is annoying to keep checking how much cash you have left when you order drinks and then going down to the ATM machine to get cash out.

    I originally went on 11th Aug and then I went again on 30h Aug and the notice is the same.

    When I took the picture of the notice for my record the security person comes over and asks why I am doing that. Well I did not believe that I should have been asked why I am taking a photo so that I can send to the stall owner.

    Repeated emails to the email address mentioned on the bang bang oriental website but no response.

    Reply
    kaveyeats

    Oh dear, that doesn’t sound good, I wonder what the problem is with card payments?

    Reply
  6. Shane Bluck

    A great review and one I very much mirror myself. I used to live in Cricklewood and was gutted when Oriental City closed, I just assumed that was it and another great place in London was gone. I had found it on the internet at the time and I ensured I broadcast my find far and wide to share with everyone. When friends or family visited me in London, it was right up there as a place to take them.
    I am now in Watford, but have passed up the Edgware Road a number of times and gazed at the old site, then last night I was sent a link on Facebook for Bang Bang, it was ffrom a pal who didn’t even know my fondness of Oriental City, but merely sending it to me as a food lover… as I watched the promo video and the address came up at the end, I thought it couldn’t be??
    Of course it was, and I have been there this evening… I loved Oriental City and nothing will ever replace it, but this place comes very close and I will take it thank you very much!
    It is on my run back from London up the M1 from Watford… so that’s my diet out of the window!

    Reply
  7. Wendy Tang

    Went here on Sunday 1st October with my brother, SiL, husband and my 2 young children. Yaohan Plaza/Oriental City was a childhood location for us, celebrations and dim sum lunch upstairs, followed by a walk around the shops and the supermarket to walk off our lunch. Like you we were very sad to see the site closed down as for our family we had a lot of friends who dined there and we never had a quiet lunch without our mum and dad seeing a friend and having a natter.

    We sat on a round table near the entrance with those lovely colourful plastic chairs. My 6 year old daughter was in awe of the foodhall as soon as we walked in. We filled our table with so many dishes from a variety of different stalls, the portions seemed small but at the end of it we were all very full and happy.

    I am so glad there is something there now, and with a Loon Fung supermarket opening up next door I can see it really bringing back the diverse ethnic community together.

    I really enjoyed the food, and look forward to going there again when I’m next in the area, as I sadly dont live in North London anymore and nor do my family ☹

    Reply

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