Underground food hall opens this weekend at Manchester’s Circle Square
Spread out across 6,500 sq ft at the Bruntwood SciTech complex off Oxford Road, Hello Oriental boasts a bakery, Vietnamese restaurant, supermarket, and more. It opens to the public at 10am Saturday.
Hello Oriental is one of the first of the food and beverage offerings at the 2.4m sq ft Circle Square to open and is situated within the development’s Symphony Park.
Bradley Topps, commercial director for Bruntwood SciTech, described the food hall as “a real destination and cornerstone for Circle Square,” adding that “there’s nothing else like this in the North West.”
Designed by Bowker Sadler Architecture, Hello Oriental has three floors, two of which are underground. It holds several Hello Oriental sub-brands: café Hello Bakery, Vietnamese restaurant Rice Paper Pho, street food-focused dining hot spot Downtown Oriental, and supermarket Hello Oriental.
Oldham-based Medlock FRB was the main contractor for the project.
For Hello Oriental directors Azim Kourah and Ricky Yip, the best part of the building is the wave feature ceiling, which is made up of laser-cut wood – none of which are exactly the same, giving it an almost liquid look.
The ceiling feature was designed specifically to help people realise there was more to the space than what they could see at street level.
“We wanted something where you could look in and it drags you down here,” Yip said. “This wave ceiling, it’s probably been about half a year getting it right.”
Kourah added that the wave feature looks different depending on the time of day, which helps the space transform from a morning breakfast spot to a lunchtime restaurant and, eventually, to a night-time bar.
“With this concept, you’re not going to come here as a customer and have the same thing every time,” Kourah said. “We have a big menu and various levels and all we offer is very different.”
Hello Oriental hopes to secure a loyal customer base from the residents of Vita Living’s 700 PRS apartments and Vita’s 1,000 student flats in Circle Square, as well as those working in the offices in the development.
“We’re lucky we’ve got the two build-to-rent buildings right next to us,” Kourah said. “It’d be remiss to say we didn’t have a large student population at our doorstep. But we’re not just catering to them. Nor are we saying we don’t want too many students, we just want the Northern Quarter crowd or Spinningfields crowd – everybody’s welcome and everybody will enjoy it. We think it’s a concept that will suit anybody.”
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Expect to see Hello Oriental for years to come. The company signed a 20-year lease for the space with Bruntwood SciTech, a move that Yip said pushed the brand to be more creative with its space.
“It gave us a bit more freedom to put more into it,” Yip explained.
A longer lease has its own challenges though and it means Hello Oriental may not look the same today as it does in the future.
“As business owners, it keeps us nimble, because we can’t offer exactly the same content for 20 years,” Kourah said.
“It makes you think in year 10 or 12 how are we transitioning as a business? That may be dictated to us by trends or what the public wants, or it may be a new idea that we’ve had.”
Kourah added that Hello Oriental is “committed to working with Bruntwood” in the future, ideally expanding the Hello Oriental sub-brands to other Bruntwood developments.
“We could take Rice Paper Pho and put it in Sheffield, or take the supermarket and put it in Leeds,” Kourah said. “Or we could take the whole thing and put it somewhere else.”