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Bang for your buck

A vegetarian’s guide to Bang Bang Oriental

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Dumplings at Orchid House. Credit: Bang Bang Oriental Food Hall on Instagram
By Bella Saltiel 29 October 2021

Proclaimed Europe’s largest Asian food court, eating at Bang Bang Oriental, in Colindale, has become a pilgrimage in its own right. Proclaimed Europe’s largest Asian food court, eating at Bang Bang Oriental, in Colindale, has become a pilgrimage in its own right.

Thousands of tagged Instagram posts caption plates of Sichuan noodles and Korean fried chicken “BANG BANG🔥 🔥” “Goals 😍”. Foodies recommend taking a group so you can share multiple dishes from different food stands. Whether that’s Indo-Chinese noodles, Malaysian Nasi Lamak and Chinese Roast Duck, or, Japanese Bento Boxes, Dim Sum and Bubble Tea.Thousands of tagged Instagram posts caption plates of Sichuan noodles and Korean fried chicken “BANG BANG🔥 🔥” “Goals 😍”. Foodies recommend taking a group so you can share multiple dishes from different food stands. Whether that’s Indo-Chinese noodles, Malaysian Nasi Lamak and Chinese Roast Duck, or, Japanese Bento Boxes, Dim Sum and Bubble Tea.

When I visited Asian food courts in Malaysia there were often hundreds of stands but, only a small number of them, mostly Indian-Malay, had vegetarian fare. That’s not to say you can’t eat incredible vegetarian Chinese-Malay food elsewhere, in fact, in Buddhist restaurants, or even temple canteens, there’s a range of dishes where bean-curd is fashioned into realistic meat alternatives.When I visited Asian food courts in Malaysia there were often hundreds of stands but, only a small number of them, mostly Indian-Malay, had vegetarian fare. That’s not to say you can’t eat incredible vegetarian Chinese-Malay food elsewhere, in fact, in Buddhist restaurants, or even temple canteens, there’s a range of dishes where bean-curd is fashioned into realistic meat alternatives.

Since then, I have wondered where in London I could get properly good mock meat made from soy, rather than Seiten (derived from gluten). I remember, in one canteen, I ate mock fish so lifelike I was sure I’d eaten something with flesh – why wasn’t this replicated in the restaurants I tried at home? It’s quite likely that I just didn’t know where to look.Since then, I have wondered where in London I could get properly good mock meat made from soy, rather than Seiten (derived from gluten). I remember, in one canteen, I ate mock fish so lifelike I was sure I’d eaten something with flesh – why wasn’t this replicated in the restaurants I tried at home? It’s quite likely that I just didn’t know where to look.

Now, that’s all changed since I was introduced to Bang Bang Oriental, where nearly every food stand offers a vegetarian (or, vegan) alternative.Now, that’s all changed since I was introduced to Bang Bang Oriental, where nearly every food stand offers a vegetarian (or, vegan) alternative.

One dish stands out: the mock crispy duck was exceptionally executed. Speaking to the woman who served me at Orchid House, she said bean-curd skins are layered, breaded, then fried. Home recipes for ù yā (素鸭) make it sound simple enough, but, I wager, getting the texture of the bean-curd just right so it’s as crispy as duck is no easy feat.One dish stands out: the mock crispy duck was exceptionally executed. Speaking to the woman who served me at Orchid House, she said bean-curd skins are layered, breaded, then fried. Home recipes for ù yā (素鸭) make it sound simple enough, but, I wager, getting the texture of the bean-curd just right so it’s as crispy as duck is no easy feat.

There’s plenty of options elsewhere, more than I can summarise here, but, some highlights are the vegetarian egg dosas, vegan Vietnamese Bún noodles, vegan Laksa, mock crispy duck pancakes and vegetarian Dim Sum at Dumplings and Buns.There’s plenty of options elsewhere, more than I can summarise here, but, some highlights are the vegetarian egg dosas, vegan Vietnamese Bún noodles, vegan Laksa, mock crispy duck pancakes and vegetarian Dim Sum at Dumplings and Buns.

Bang Bang Oriental not only offers a variety, but the food is good value. So, like the food bloggers say: #lovesharing head to #bangbang and post some #noodgramsBang Bang Oriental not only offers a variety, but the food is good value. So, like the food bloggers say: #lovesharing head to #bangbang and post some #noodgrams