The idea of branding City Road as Cardiff’s own Brick Lane is corrosively bland

Why aren’t we proud to be ourselves?

Cardiff’s Twitterati have proposed that City Road should be re-marketed to become the Brick Lane, or Curry Mile, of Cardiff.

Stretching between Roath and Cathays, City Road hosts nearly every cuisine you can imagine. From Lebanese, Syrian, and Moroccan to Chinese and Japanese.

But does the popular eating destination need a marketing kick up the ass? No, it doesn’t. When you tell someone you are going to City Road for dinner, they know you’re going for a non-chain, proper international cuisine, it doesn’t require some made-up title. It doesn’t need to be made into some tourist board promotion bullshit just so that Cardiff can stick it on a map or on Trip Advisor to try and boost its profile.


Just because London, Manchester and Liverpool have decided to brand a street as the only place to get anything other than a Chicken Korma doesn’t mean Cardiff has to jump on the bandwagon too.

Why are we trying to ruin and make a tourist trap out of something that is already so authentic? City Road is awesome because of its unexpected and secret feel. It certainly doesn’t need a shake up or transformation of its “innocuous looking shop fronts”, as Wales Online put it – that’s what makes them great. They look family run and a bit shabby on the outside, so when you have the most delicious meal you’ve ever tasted from a country you’ve never heard of for less than a fiver, it tastes so much better.

Creating the tourism board’s wet-marketing-dream of transforming the rubbish ridden road into some squeaky-clean and exclusive commercial nightmare of a mile ruins the rose in-between two thorns feel that already exists there.

Names have been suggested such as “The World Mile, The World on City, Tiger Town or The International Mile”, but this creates a farce and quite frankly patronising title, alongside the bunting and ribbons they want to use along the stretch like a home counties agricultural fayre. When people say “Manchester Curry Mile” they scoff and see it as a laughing matter or an embarrassment, rather than a genuinely amazing stretch of road with the best nosh going.

The promotion of different cuisines and hot spots in Cardiff is a good thing, but there are better ways to do this – establishing Cardiff’s own identity rather than latching onto the cliche of another city.

If you don’t know about City Road, or if you do but can’t be bothered to venture the whole one mile from the city centre to try it out, then tough shit, stick to your Wagamama’s and other chains. Spewing a PR campaign onto City Road makes something so raw and natural into something fabricated and false.

Some things are best kept as hidden secrets. City Road is one of them.