If, as I do, you spend your days in the comfortable embrace of London’s Zone 2, Colindale can seem a little surreal.
Of suburban character, the borough is home to the Royal Air Force Museum and Public Health England’s Centre for Infections, among other treats.
Sadly The British Library’s newspaper depository closed its doors for the final time in 2013.
But most exciting of all, Colindale has recently welcomed Bang Bang Oriental, branded as London’s biggest Asian food hall.
Celebrating the vibrant culture of the continent, it presents over 20 individual kiosks offering an eclectic mix of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese, Taiwanese and Malaysian cuisine.
At its centre is the Golden Dragon restaurant.
Taking over the ground floor, the eatery is the flagship, 300 cover, restaurant from the brand, and offers dim sum lunches and an extensive traditional Chinese menu in the evening.
On arrival the first thing that catches the eye is the sheer size of the place.
The open plan dining area stretches into the distance, with a single till station moored in the middle like a lighthouse in the sea of tables.
Golden Dragon’s decor was designed by Stiff + Trevillion, a well-known player in this sector.
Their work, in a radiant black and gold colour scheme, creates a luxurious and elegant vibe.
At the same time, the ornate Chinese illustrations on the walls create a striking visual impact.
Golden Dragon itself is famed for its duck, which chefs present in a variety of ways, including the traditional roast Peking duck and aromatic crispy duck.
The sleek restaurant boasts a large BBQ area which is fired up each morning so that cooks can expertly prepare everything on site.
Guests can rest assured that all the dishes are prepared fresh that day by skilled Cantonese chefs, many with over 30 years of experience.
Looking through the menu I certainly felt spoilt for choice – pages-upon-pages full of dishes flash past representing the diverse culinary heritage of China.
Feeling lucky we go for chilli tofu with fermented egg, wasabi fungus, vegan chicken, satay beef and an enoki mushrooms hot pot.
While we wait we are tempted by the vast tea menu with its impressive range of leaves from across the region.
Sadly, however, we let our habits get the best of us and decide in favour of good old Cabernet Sauvignon.
All dishes are promptly brought to our table, served together, and we dive in.
The tofu is silken in texture and melts in the mouth.
The delicate flavour is counteracted by the strong salty taste of the century egg, making a perfect combination.
Though it would be fair to point out a green fermented egg might be to everyone’s taste!
The black wasabi fungus, or wood ear mushroom, were crisp and snappy, and proved a firm favourite with my guest.
For me though, the vegan bean curd chicken took the prize.
Light and flavoursome, it was served on a bed of cashew nuts and roast chillies for that extra kick – it was easily the highlight of the meal.
An hour passes and we have barely made a dent in our oriental feast, which is impressive considering both of us grew up around force-feeding Russian babushkas.
Letting them down is not an option.
The fine cuts of satay beef glisten on a bed of glass noodles across the table and we dive in for another round.
The mild fruitiness of enoki mushrooms compliments the juicy beef.
Golden Dragon is a prime example of how far oriental cuisine has developed in London.
As expert Chinese chefs have been able to travel abroad in recent decades, as the country grows in wealth and integrates with the global community, more have chosen to settle in London.
They have brought with them their customs, culture and cuisine.
As a result, we have gone from menus consisting of roast duck, egg-fried rice and spring rolls to a wide variety of authentic Chinese food.
What is on offer at the Golden Dragon would be a highlight of any table back home.
Golden Dragon is open from 12:00-22:00 on Monday-Thursday, from 12:00-22:30 on Friday, from 11:00-22:30 on Saturday, and 11:00-22:00 on Sunday.
Find out more on the official website.
Images courtesy Stiff + Trevillion/Kilian O’Sullivan