The date for the closure of Oriental City has been set – May 2008. I learned this from the man selling the Malaysian kuehs and curry puffs this past Saturday and I’ve also found an article on the BBC News confirming this. To make a long story short, developers want to knock down Oriental City to make way for flats, a B&Q, and a gym, I think.

Oriental City is a unique shopping centre in North London (Colindale) with, you guessed it, Oriental shops and restaurants. There are a couple of large Chinese restaurants with dim sum, a Chinese jewelry shop, a martial arts store, Utsuwa (the Japanese tableware shop), a Japanese housewares shop, beauty salons, a large supermarket, and smaller cafes and Chinese shops. There’s even a Sega game centre…where we have whiled away some time in the past – that time between lunch and dinner!

The main highlight of the mall (to me, at least) is the food court, with Chinese, Malaysian, Singaporean, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, and Korean food stalls. I bet I’ve missed out on a country too. The Roti Stall sells authentic Malaysian-Indian roti canai, a flaky bread; stand in front of the stall and watch the man twirl the dough until it’s paper thin. There’s a relatively new handmade noodle stall where you can watch the noodles being stretched and thumped right in front of you. The Malaysian/Singaporean food at Yong Tofu is extremely authentic with lots of rice and noodle dishes to choose from. As I mentionned before, there’s a stall only on weekends that sells Malaysian cakes (kueh), curry puffs and a couple of other dishes. There’s also a stall outside, by the car park, that sells delicious (but fiery hot!) Malaysian food – they also grill satay on charcoal there! Not every dish is perfect though but I’ve never had a downright bad meal; usually, it’s a terrific meal! Most dishes average about £5 and portions are large! Be warned but my eyes always seem to be bigger than my stomach…

This Saturday saw a friend and I head over to Oriental City. I’d been planning yet another visit for a while and now that I had roped in a partner-in-crime, it was time to go! We’re terrible for each other – always buying something the other recommends and ending up with giant baskets full. We had each brought a backpack along in anticipation of the goodies we’d get from the supermarket. First stop though, lunch at the food court!

She had homemade noodles with five-spice braised beef…

Five-Spice Braised Beef with Handmade Noodles

…with a side of tasty fried prawns that could be eaten shells and all.

Fried Prawns

I succumbed again to greed and had rice with both fish curry and beef rendang from the Malay stall outside. Now…I’ve learned my lesson – when they say it’s hot, it’s really hot. I mean, it was a challenge to eat hot. Tasty though!

Beef Rendang and Fish Curry with Rice

Second stop was the Japanese housewares shop where I couldn’t decide between bento boxes and came away with nothing. Third stop was the supermarket where we loaded up with ingredients for dinner throughout the week – Japanese grilled wild eel, thinly sliced pork, Korean pork kalbi marinade, Yan-Yans (biscuit sticks with chocolate dip), mango gummies, … there was a lot, trust me! Fourth and final stop(s) was the food court again, where we ran around to various stalls ordering takeaway dishes to share with our respective partners (who dislike the long journey out there; it takes me three buses to get there) at home.

So if you still haven’t been – go! Go now and support them! Honestly, there’s nowhere else in London like it – and it’s the only place I know to get fresh roti canai. Knocking it down for a B&Q (as if there are no home hardware shops in London! ha!) and destroying the community within is a real shame. There’s a website for the official campaign to Save Oriental City and if you need more persuading to go, photos from my previous trips are on my Flickr photostream.

Oriental City
399 Edgware Road
London NW9 0JJ

May 8, 2008: An update here.