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Oriental Condor Restaurant (Oxford)

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3 Reviews

Address: 20-21 Park End Street / Oxford / Oxfordshire / OX1 1HU / England

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    3 Reviews
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      02.06.2010 18:49
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      not my favorite Chinese in Oxford but close!

      I was first introduced to the Oriental Condor in law school, by a Hong Kong friend of mine. She had spent months trying to replicate the tastes and flavors of her home in Oxford, and believed that the Oriental Condor hit the proverbial nail on the head in terms of not just the food but also the general lay out. Though not much to look at, it reminded her of places in Hong Kong, and so I trusted her knowledgeable judgment.

      I would warn off people from eating here if they are particularly wary of greasy food or less than prime cuts of meat. If you're open minded, though, and come willing to try to imagine you're tucked off a main street somewhere on Hong Kong, then you'll be rewarded! The tastes are all there, in the right place - though the packaging might be a little dodgy.

      My favorite thing to order is the fried dumplings - I remember vividly craving them during my finals, and going round to order them to takeaway. They fried them fresh in front of me - they were (presumably) made earlier that day, so they heated up LOTS of oil in a wok, and threw the dumplings in. They didn't serve them alongside a simple soy sauce either - they served them with a bright pink chili sauce. Delicious. Thick but crispy pastry, questionable meat filling. Still fantastic!

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      15.09.2009 11:38
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      I used to think this was the best Chinese restaurant I'd been to, but no more

      Oct 2009 update to original review: I went to the Oriental Condor again yesterday after a break of a couple of years of not living in Oxford any more and having written a recent (very positive, 5 star dooyoo) review of the place was quite shocked by what I saw there. Sadly the effects of the current credit crunch on this restaurant are very clearly apparent: the sign outside is literally rotting away and the decor has clearly not been refurbished or updated since the restaurant was opened, which means that the place has gotten very grotty indeed inside. There are stains on the ceiling and walls, and much of the paintwork is chipped and marked and generally in an unacceptably poor state of repair. I can understand that e.g. repainting the interiors might be expensive at this particular time, but given that when we went (Friday lunchtime) the restaurant was practically empty and had more staff than customers, I can't see why someone hasn't been available to do something simple by way of basic improvements - even wiping some of those drips of dried-on grime from the paintwork would've helped.

      The standard of the food has declined drastically also. The first clue to this sad state of affairs should've been when we saw that the options on the 'specials' menu (Mongolian lamb, prawn-stuffed aubergine, saltfish fried rice, etc) have not changed one iota since we used to go there regularly, back around 2005. This somewhat defeats the purpose of offering 'special' dishes in the first place, doesn't it? In any case, some of the dishes we ordered yesterday - including the crispy Mongolian lamb - tasted like the ingredients had been kept for far too long and were going stale / approaching their sell-by dates, and our waitress, or more accurately the uniform she was wearing frankly, smelled bad - I think from the smell of it, her outfit had spent too long drying out in an overly enclose space. Eating there was not at all a pleasant experience - particularly as I have a clear memory of what a nice place this used to be - and I will not be going again. It's a huge pity as this really did use to be a very good restaurant, for which I held a great deal of personal affection. I still find it difficult to believe how far standards there have fallen in such a short time.

      If you happened to visit the Oriental Condor on the strength of my original recommendation - and I sincerely hope that nobody did - I can only apologise to you unreservedly. Hopefully eating there won't have cost you too much, and not-good as the food now is, I don't think it'd actually be DANGEROUS to anyone, but still. I can't help but feel bad about it.

      ******************

      Unedited original review appended for nostalgia and morbid curiosity's sake: The Oriental Condor is a modest-looking Chinese restaurant near the centre of Oxford. It is however the best place to get Chinese food anywhere in this country that I have ever visited.

      Celebrity chefs and other know-it-all foodie-types are always going on and on about how the food you get in regular Chinese restaurants in the UK isn't 'authentic Chinese cooking' and how it 'isn't what Chinese people eat when they're at home' etc. etc. etc.

      Well of course it isn't. Nobody eats like they're eating at a restaurant every night when they're at home, of course they don't. And having lived with Chinese people, many of whom are relations of mine, I think I can comment with some degree of reliability that if you consider a scenario in which some of the things that Chinese people eat when they're at home might potentially appear on a British restaurant menu, this is in general a pretty good thing.

      Congee, for example, is a greyish-coloured stock-based rice porridge with bits in it that some Chinese people like to eat - mostly in the mornings. I mention this because congee, though quite popular and certainly 'authentic', doesn't have particularly wide appeal as a restaurant dish, probably because with the best will in the world, no matter what you do with it, in the bowl it looks dreadful. That said, you CAN buy rice congee and dishes like it off the menu at the Oriental Condor in Oxford - so it is a restaurant which wears its authenticity on its sleeve, so to speak.

      Despite the fairly narrow shop-front, the Oriental Condor is bigger inside than it looks. There is a conservatory-style dining area / extension out at the back and the whole place is quite nicely decorated - with light aluminium cafe-type seats and tables, and brightly painted murals of street-life in Hong Kong, on the walls etc. - much in the style of a street cafe in Asia. So while it's not perhaps the best place to linger for ages over a meal, neither is it marketing itself as a plush, fake velvet-upholstered 'oriental splendour' kind of eatery, which I think is a good thing.

      The menu is quite extensive, and everything I've ever had there has been utterly excellent. The Oriental Condor counts as a 'special category' of Chinese restaurant in my book; it really is above and beyond most other restaurants of this type, due the quality of the cooking, and the range of options it provides. It's also very good value in general.

      The menu contains your 'usual' Chinese restaurant dishes as well as some less standard meals, many of them based on the delicious roast crispy duck / barbeque pork / soy-basted chicken that you see hanging up in the restaurant's front window. There is also an excellent range of snack-type yet fairly substantial noodles-and-soup / wonton soup - type dishes. You can vary your choice of soupy dish by noodle type - they do, for example, a choice of your usual egg noodle, vs. rice vermincelli, vs. Japanese buckwheat noodle and so on, each of which can be chosen to accompany a different soup / stock base. They also provide a number of daily specials, which are noted on a blackboard in the restaurant.

      In summary, all Chinese restaurants weren't created equal, and this one is definitely one of the best of the lot. Absolutely outstanding grub!

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      • More +
        13.09.2009 22:21
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        There are far better chinese restaurants in Oxford

        This is a chinese restaurnat located just outside the Centre of Oxford, virtually right opposite the main train station. I've only visited this restaurant once a few months ago & woudn't want to visit it again!

        I love my chinese food & the Oriental Condor was one of the few chinese restaurants in the city that I had yet to try. So I decided to venture down one Wednesday evening with a mate to see what it was like.

        Before even entering the restaurant, we saw bits of meat hanging up on the window, they looked like they had been there for ages & I was hoping that's not what we would be served. Upon entry we were seated, and the whole place had a school canteen feel about it. I was willing to put up with this if the food was to be of a decent quality.

        The menu seemed to have a good selection of dishes, after ordering the food was with us very fast. This wasn't a good thing as it was obvious, it had probably been re-heated in the microwave after being previously pre-prepared. I didn't enjoy it at all & neither me or my mate finished our meals.

        The restuarant was very quiet the evening we went & I can see why. If you want a decent chinese, don't go here. The food is poor quality & the service wasn't anything to shout home about.

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      • Product Details

        Chinese Cuisine.