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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Oriental City

My soul captured by a wild spirit of adventure, I walked several blocks further down the main road through my town (Colindale) then I have during the first month I've been here. There I found... Oriental City!



Oriental City is a giant mall devoted to things from eastern Asia. There is a store with a huge supply of Chinese ceramics, several shops selling Oriental bric-a-brac, a Japanese beauty parlor, and a Sega center that is a confusing jumble of lights from giant game screens and the sounds of cars, shots, kicks, and dying.

A little farther in I found an Asian supermarket as large as a Walmart in the US. I wandered the aisles for a few minutes, surveying the unfamiliar items. Some of the prices were astronomical: whelks were selling for 65 pounds a kilo, while "surf clams" went for 68. I saw little fruits from Thailand called "rambutan" that looked like they were covered with tentacles. My favorite item was "dried salted witch." So that's what they do with them these days!



Next I went to the food court. It contains about a dozen Asian restaurants -- Malyasian, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese. One shop sold sixty different, non-alcoholic drinks, including lychee in syrup, iced horlick, Lo Hon Guo Longan tea, ice sago in coconut milk, and jelly grass in syrup. Another place displayed whole ducks, including the heads, roasted and skewered, as well as whole, bright-red cuttlefish. In one of the Chinese stalls I could have ordered preserved vegetables with pig intestine. I wound up getting a wonderful Vietnamese beef-noodle soup, flavored with fresh basil and cilantro, scallions, freshly squeezed lime juice, and plenty of bright red chillies.

Yum, yum.

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