A Six of One Crab Special
Orchid House and five other places try in London this week
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Six of One is a column dedicated to London restaurant recommendations. In each newsletter, we send out a tip from six writers for six different restaurants, bakeries, cafes or takeaways that deserve to be better known.
You can find the full Six of One back catalogue below:
Polentina and five other recommendations; Inihaw plus five; Kulcha Express plus five; Triple One Café plus five; Samak Seafood plus five; Lakehouse Hungarian; Restaurant plus five; Salteñas Martin plus five; Best Foods Supermarket plus five; Thenga Cafe plus five; Charcoal Champ plus five; Chai Kadai plus five, Fine Cut Butchers and Steakhouse plus five; Souvlakiland plus five, Bali Satay House plus five, and Yasmina plus five.
Today’s recommendations are from Elaine Zhao, Hester van Hensbergen, Gavin Cleaver, Bartolomeo Sala, Zayneb Al Asaadi, and Jago Rackham.
Arriving in suburban Colindale at its giant food hall is what I imagine arriving in Las Vegas must feel like: when you’ve been driving through a desert to suddenly see the dazzling ‘WELCOME TO VEGAS’ sign – or in this case ‘BANG BANG ORIENTAL’ in glowing neon lights. Walking up the significant number of steps to enter the sprawling building conjures feelings of a pilgrimage, as you push through the sleek glass doors to London’s Asian food mecca. While the food court contains 25 different vendors – spanning Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai and more – I opt for Orchid House, whose menu is a melting pot of Singaporean-Malaysian classics, including the Singaporean-style chilli crab with deep-fried buns.
This legendary dish is a household name: the regal crab sits on a raised throne, surrounded by a moat of the most deliciously sweet and complex sauce, with a hint of sourness and a slight chilli kick adding extraordinary depth of flavour. As with any crab experience though, to quote Britney Spears, you “better work, bitch” – as its high shell-to-meat ratio means it’s not for lazy eaters. The deep-fried buns are an essential accompaniment, with their crispy exterior providing a satisfying crunch. Once inside, the soft, doughy interior lends the perfect canvas to mop up the sauce, which gets its unique balance of umami and sweetness from shrimp paste, crab tomalley and, perhaps surprisingly, ketchup.
A word of warning: the crab innards, due to their concentrated savoury taste and chewy texture, may not be for everyone. If that’s the case, other delicious dishes to try include the sambal pork fried rice, which features a moreish, salty wok hei, and the fried chicken wings with salted egg yolk, where the chef finishes the dish by drizzling over a sauce made with melted butter. Elaine Zhao
First Floor, F9 Unit C, 399 Edgware Rd, NW9 0FH