Monday, 1 December 2008

My Old Place (Lao Di Fang) review - affordable Chinese dining off Bishopgate

My+Old+Place+Lao+Di+Fang++review+LondonThe name "My Old Place" can be pretty misleading. When my colleague suggested that we go there for dinner, I thought that he was referring to somewhere that he normally frequent (as in "his old place"). So imagine my surprise when I was introduced to this Chinese eatery over at Middlesex road.

In fact, My Old Place is exactly as the name suggest - it's a place where you'll think of when choosing a venue for groups of four to six close friends, especially if you are a Chinese. When I was there at 8pm on a Thursday evening, it was packed with Chinese. There was an English couple sitting on the table next to us who were looking increasingly uncomfortable by the minute.

My-Old-Place-Lao-Di-Fang-LondonMy Old Place reminds me of some eating establishments in China where the main purpose is to feed the customer without much consideration to the ambiance or presentation. The owner obviously didn't put in much effort in the décor - even the carpet is leftover from the previous tenant "Thai Thai".

Similarly, there was no pretense in the presentation of the dishes. The sight of some dishes can put off those who are more accustomed to delicate servings of dim sum. The Sichuan dishes are presented in large plates - typically used for serving 10-inch pizzas, and each portion is huge.
Leong's Legend - London's Taiwanese cuisine
Yauatcha - London's dim sum king

My-Old-Place-Lao-Di-Fang-LondonThe Cola Chicken Wings (£7), is essentially chicken wings cooked in a thick sweet black sauce. I can't really taste the 'cola' in it and it's definitely one of those finger food that is more suited to be consume with a jug of beer.

We also ordered Fish Head with Beancurd (£7), which is exactly as the name implies - fish heads stewed with beancurds in starchy gravy flavored with egg, garlic and soy sauce. There must be more than one fish head in there as I found more than two eyeballs in the concoction.

My-Old-Place-Lao-Di-Fang-LondonThe grilled Lamb Skewer (£1 each), recommended by the waitress, is surprisingly good. The aromatic spice lightly coated over the slivers of lamb complements its inherent taste. It would, however, be a whole lot better if the skewer handles were not coated with a thin layer of oil.

The all Chinese staff though efficient is rather curt in service, so don't expect any bantering. For some reason, the billing system could be more efficient - after calling for the bill, we waited for around 15 minutes before it arrived.

My Old Place is definitely for those who will go for bulk over presentation. It presents a refreshing affordable alternative to Cantonese cuisine that has somehow come to represent Chinese styled cooking. One point to note, as the portions are really huge, two dishes should do just fine for dinner for two.

Address: 88 Middlesex St, London, E1 7EZ
Tel: 020 72472200 (reservation recommended for dinner)
Nearest Tube station: Liverpool Street

Ratings (out of 5 *)
Price: below £10 pp
Service charge: none
Taste: **
Service: **
Ambience: **
Suitable for: groups (of four preferably) who do not mind sharing main dishes. For those who prefer bulk over taste and presentation.

My Old Place on Urbanspoon

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Dutchie said...

7 pounds for a dish to be shared sounds resonable to me. Judging by ur 2 stars for taste as well as for ambience, this meal is just so-so for u n ur friends ?

I must hv missed the lamb ads this yr bec I hv not bought any for stock. They appear mostly during Spring for 2 weeks. I used it for satay or rendang n it's quite good !

kyh said...

seems like there are cola chickens everywhere huh? we have them here too. :)

Joerup said...

CK... My colleague has been telling me about this place like... ever! lol She loves the rou chuan (the kebabs) cos it's super dumpy Delicious! Sadly, I didn't have the chance to go there yet. Very popular spot among the China Chinese. I need a date with you! lol

Martin in Bulgaria said...

I am amazed at how cheap the cost is. It is always a popular talking point here on how expensive eating out in London is.

C K said...

It was really crowded when I was there for dinner for Thursday so I guess it does have its charm. But it's really not a place for catching up with your friends if you know what I mean.

'Lamb ads'? What's that again?

Really? Can you actually taste the cola in them?

LOL, I wouldn't be surprised if we have met in some eateries unknowingly. Just look out for the guy who takes pictures of his with his phone before tucking in. :)

Oh, actually, it can get relatively cheap to eat in London provided you know where to go. But I guess that's the same everywhere else, isn't it?

Dutchie said...

CK, by ads I meant adverts lor ! In this case, it's for leg of lamb. Am always trawling the local rags (erm .. u do call newspapers that, right ?) for discounts since their usual-thru-the-week-price r much higher. The way supermart makes us run around for our money .. sigh ..

Noted today that GBP 1 = S$ 2.277. Question is, can u buy more with GBP 1 or with the higher denomination of our good old 2.277 ??

Anonymous said...

I have never tried the cola chicken before. For the Chinese, food quality's more important than presentation.

tim_g said...

fyi this is the sister restaurant to 'gourmet san' on bethnal green rd. so if you like this place you'd also like gourmet san.

C K said...

@My Bug Life,
I guess I'm spoilt, aren't I? :)

Thanks for the tip. Will look it up when I'm in the area. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

"There was an English couple sitting on the table next to us who were looking increasingly uncomfortable by the minute."

Are you saying they were uncomfortable because they had to sit next to Chinese people? How odd.

vix said...

went there after reading your review, and also hearing good things from other friends.

1st thing - the menu they gave us was all in chinese! all of us half past six chinese in school couldn't make head or tail of the menu!

ended up with shui zhu something. aubergine something and beef something. oh and the lamb skewers were tasty!

and the portions are huge!

later found out there WAS an english menu but it was much abbreviated compared to the chinese one.