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West London Chinese Market

JFores Nov 10, 2007 11:13 AM


I trekked out to Hoo Hing (I think that's the name...) today to load up on goods for my Szechuan endeavor (which begins as soon as I finish the massive amount of left overs.) I'm going to try to make every or nearly every recipe in my newest cook book until I finish! I always do this when I get new cook books. So 2-3 weeks of Szechuan food!

Ok back to the real point of this post

Hoo Hing is by no means NYC China Town or Flushing and it is not as close to the tube as the map on their site would make you think! What it is, however, is the best Chinese store I've been to in the UK. They had most of what I needed though I really need a Szechuan owned store for some of it and the inability to find fava bean based chili bean paste was annoying.

Ok back to the topic again... Great market, nice selection and I would definitely like to have something closer and with a better selection (or at least more of what I need.) The prices are quite reasonable and their 12 pound deal on a case of Tsingtao (16 kilo case!) was a sight to behold (warmed my heart a bit before I realized I'm not carrying it back.) The live seafood section was decent and I was somewhat tempted by the crabs, but nothing spectacular. Overall it's a good market when you need specific specialties, sauces, etc and their prices on woks are quite good. It does not provide the basics (meat or ei.) well though. So basically I'll try to limit my trips there as much as possible and stick to my Brixton runs.

Please feel free to post other Chinese markets, especially Szechuan oriented ones..

  1. b
    Brit on a Trip Nov 10, 2007 02:20 PM

    As you'll know, food travels when folk travel. Most Chinese immigration into the UK has been from the Canton region (and, of course, Hong Kong in particular). Szechuan may be difficult.

    Are there any major Chinese supermarkets - like Wing Yip - down south? Might be worth a try.

    29 Replies
    1. re: Brit on a Trip
      zuriga1 Nov 10, 2007 02:44 PM

      There's a Wing Yip in Croydon. We go there once in awhile - about a 40 minute drive from our house. It's got the best frozen prawns I've yet to find over here. They're frozen in ice and are a good size and tasty. I think they also have another location to the north - probably more handy for those in London. My husband lived in Japan for 8 years so he likes to point out the Japanese goodies of which there are many.

      1. re: zuriga1
        JFores Nov 10, 2007 03:10 PM

        I'll consider the trip. I've got a friend in Crystal Palace which is relatively close to there so maybe it could work. Croydon is damn far by bus though.

        1. re: JFores
          zuriga1 Nov 10, 2007 10:03 PM

          Yes, it's a hefty ride. I Googled and found that the other London Wing Yip Superstore is in Cricklewood... Edgeware Rd. That's probably just as bad, but I don't know the bus routes all that well.

          1. re: zuriga1
            wleatherette Nov 13, 2007 07:38 AM

            i used to shop at the one in cricklewood, though that was made possible by a friend's car. fwiw, my friend's (chinese-malay) family liked it much better than hoo hing.

            1. re: wleatherette
              JFores Nov 13, 2007 08:18 AM

              I'm quite sure that Wing Yip has a branch in Brixton which I stop in whenever I go there. I forgot to check the sign, but they have signs inside notifying their customers of other branches including a Croydon one. It's very small though. I sort of like it better than Hoo Hing at this point due to convenience and the fact that it has everything but spices. I can make up for spices via Patak's (they carry facing heaven chilis for ei.)

              1. re: JFores
                wleatherette Nov 13, 2007 09:59 AM

                the web site doesn't mention a brixton location, but who knows? if you can sort out the transport, it would be worth visiting the cricklewood branch even once as it's enormous (i assume croydon is likewise). bring a cool bag for frozen seafood, which is of good quality (as zuriga mentions) and cheap (relatively speaking), and grab some fresh dim sum for the ride home. there's a small area (far right-hand corner of the store as you walk in) where you can buy cheung fun, buns, etc etc.

                1. re: wleatherette
                  JFores Nov 13, 2007 10:14 AM

                  Oh boy... the Brixton one is microscopic. Maybe I will be doing that trip to Croydon. Does anyone know if the Croydon one is large?

                  1. re: JFores
                    zuriga1 Nov 13, 2007 01:26 PM

                    The Croydon one is called a 'superstore,' and it's huge. It also carries Japanese items in abundance. The attached restaurant serves food that I like so it's always interesting to make a trip there.. plus there's a bakery for take out buns, sesame, pork etc.

              2. re: wleatherette
                zuriga1 Nov 13, 2007 01:23 PM

                One thing I really like at Wing Yip is one of their frozen shrimp brands. The shrimp are frozen in ice and have a good flavour compared to a lot of others I've tried. I now have a large freezer, so I can stock up next time!

                1. re: zuriga1
                  JFores Nov 13, 2007 03:08 PM

                  I'll definitely check this out. I might have to negotiate for further freezer space (literally... I'm taking up a lot of room with a huge amount of Bengali fish. Not to mention that every Saturday my floor collectively raids the garbage behind Mark and Spencer for the food that they put out which expires the next day. Freezer space is tight.)

                  I'll definitely get to the Croydon store. In fact, I'm texting my friend who lives near it right now. Mmmm buns.....

                  1. re: JFores
                    zuriga1 Nov 13, 2007 10:41 PM

                    I had to negotiate for a freezer, too. I'll never get used to the size of most British refrigerator/freezers, even though our new house came with a fairly 'good-sized' one. Now I can bake 12 bagels at a time!

                    1. re: JFores
                      oonth Nov 14, 2007 02:21 AM

                      JF/Zuriga, do you know if that bakery sells dried shredded pork (aka meat floss aka yoke song in Cantonese) buns? I got totally addicted to these from HK bakeries in Bangkok over the summer.

                      JF, anywhere else in London where you've seen the meat floss or the buns topped with meat floss?

                      1. re: oonth
                        zuriga1 Nov 14, 2007 03:30 AM

                        I'm sorry not to know the answer, oonth. I always seem to get the same thing to munch in the car if we're not having a meal... the type of pork buns I used to find in NY (probably not the dried shredded). I'd have to ask to know for sure. The pork is in that sweetish sauce that's used.

                        1. re: zuriga1
                          oonth Nov 14, 2007 03:41 AM

                          Don't worry, I should probably post the query to the wider board community, there are folks with broad knowledge where Cantonese (and other Chinese) food is concerned.

                          I'm fairly sure what you munch on is char siu (= BBQ) pork buns, they are tasty too when well done.

                          That HK bakery in Bangkok was stellar, had items like green curry and massaman buns, creations for local tastes.

                          1. re: oonth
                            zuriga1 Nov 14, 2007 04:46 AM

                            Yes, it's char siu. I remember that from NY. Thanks.

                            1. re: zuriga1
                              JFores Nov 14, 2007 08:36 AM

                              Char siu buns are the standard NY variety and the only ones I've seen here so ar.

                              1. re: JFores
                                zuriga1 Nov 14, 2007 09:33 AM

                                You make me smile, Justin. If I ate like you do, I'd weigh 400 pounds. It's so nice to be young with great metabolism. I yearn for the good old days of my yoot. Eat like crazy while you can!!

                        2. re: oonth
                          wleatherette Nov 14, 2007 09:43 AM

                          have you tried kowloon bakery in chinatown? or the relatively newer place that's callled wonderful or wonderfully or something like that? those are the two places that i would frequent as they had a more varied selection (though wonderful was way more about sweet rather than savory).

                          1. re: wleatherette
                            JFores Nov 14, 2007 09:55 AM

                            Yeah, but I didn't order a variety of buns when I went. I also tended to get only buns from a place in Brooklyn Chinatown that my friend recced. Kowloon's good though. Never tried Wonderful.

                            In regards to Zuriga's post

                            Haha! Yeah, but I have about 3 hours of Thai boxing/MMA a night 5 days a week with 4 hours on two of the days and 1 hour on Sunday. Allows me to eat basically anything, though I do have to cut around 5 kilos for a possible fight in January.

                            1. re: JFores
                              wleatherette Nov 14, 2007 10:01 AM

                              oh, i was replying to oonth's post. the kowloon that i mentioned and wonderful/wonderfully are both in london's chinatown. what's the place in bk that you like?

                              1. re: wleatherette
                                oonth Nov 15, 2007 02:43 AM

                                Thanks for the tips, I will have a closer look in those bakeries although I have a sense that London's HK bakeries ain't great.

                                The HK bakery in BKK I like, I forget the name actually but it's on the 3rd floor of the Central World shopping mall and I believe is part of a popular HK bakery chain.

                                I love the meat floss period. Great with fried eggs actually as part of some kind of toasted sarnie.

                                1. re: oonth
                                  wleatherette Nov 15, 2007 05:48 AM

                                  i hope i'm not sending you on a wild goose chase. it's been ages since i've been to either place.

                                  this thread is a real diet-buster. i had to pick up my glasses in chinatown yesterday and also picked up a sweet rice roll, pork cheung fun, and an "everything" bun from deluxe food market. burp.

                                2. re: wleatherette
                                  oonth Nov 19, 2007 02:52 PM

                                  Place in BKK is called Breadtalk, I remembered the name a couple of days back.

                            2. re: oonth
                              misswills Nov 18, 2007 02:13 PM

                              Oonth, I spotted meat floss buns and curry buns today at Golden Gate Bakery in Chinatown. It's the bakery located at 13 Macclesfield Street (around the corner from Golden Gate supermarket). I think they were selling for about £1/bun. Hope that helps!

                              1. re: misswills
                                oonth Nov 19, 2007 09:13 AM

                                Thanks, will check that place out, hope that the buns are up to scratch.

                                1. re: misswills
                                  oonth Nov 19, 2007 02:51 PM

                                  As luck would have it, I was in Chinatown this evening meeting friends at Haozhan so picked up a bun and it's tasty and will certainly provide me with a fix whenever I'm in London. Would taste better still if purchased in the morning I assume. 90p a bun and you can also buy a bag of the floss for £3.50 I noticed. Thanks again for the tip.

                                  1. re: oonth
                                    Ian Nov 20, 2007 01:38 PM

                                    I meant to post on this earlier but got distracted by work. The pork floss buns at Golden Gate are OK but like most UK bakery, just don't compare to the real thing back in Asia. One day I'll work out why that is. I miss decent pork floss... and those meat sticks like jerky you can get in Singapore and Malaysia... Stuff you can't bring into the UK due to import rules...

                                    1. re: oonth
                                      Kake Apr 4, 2008 10:20 AM

                                      I got a couple of pork floss buns from Golden Gate yesterday (still 90p each), but they had no idea what I was talking about when I asked to buy a bag of the floss. Any other ideas for finding this stuff in London?

                                      1. re: Kake
                                        oonth Apr 5, 2008 03:31 AM

                                        I've been back to Golden Gate a few times and they've never again had the bags of floss for sale so I suspect the time I saw it was a one off. Shame really as I think that the floss itself is comfortably better than the bun. I don't know where else in London to find the floss I'm afraid. If you do find some please let me know. It's great as part of a muffin sandwich - fried egg, a few green leaves and then a generous sprinkling of the floss on top but you can obviously use it any which way you like.

                                        Unfortunately, we don't have much of an HK bakery culture in London and we don't have any Vietnamese bakery culture, both sources of frustration for me.

                  2. misswills Nov 10, 2007 04:28 PM

                    Sichuan's still fairly novel in the UK, from my understanding. I think the big interest/boom in Sichuanese cookery came when Fuschia Dunlop published her books.

                    Anyway, a decent substitute for Sichuanese chili paste is to use Korean kochujang. There's a Korean grocer called Hana Supermarket on 41 Store Street, a block away from UCL's main entrance. They sell lots of chili pastes and chilis there which work quite well for Sichuan cooking.

                    If you need Sichuan peppercorns, Hob at the Brunswick was selling them the last time I was in. Not sure if they still have them, but if they do, they sell it loose so you can buy as little or as much as you like.

                    Also, which Sichuan cookbook are you reading? Was it published in the US or in the UK? The reason I ask is because certain imports from China are allowed into the US, but are banned in the UK/EU and vice versa (though it's usually the case the UK/EU is more selective). Therefore if you're reading a cookbook published for the US market, you'll find that certain ingredients or certain brands are simply not available here.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: misswills
                      JFores Nov 10, 2007 04:43 PM

                      I got peppercorns. I'm actually reading Fuschia Dunlop's Land of Plenty. She's a Londoner so it should work out well enough. I got basically all of my basics today except I need fennel seeds which I'll get at Patak's when I go to school. I've been in that Korean store and I'll definitely give it a visit.

                      Do you know any places that make their own tofu daily like you would have in NYC Chinatown?

                      1. re: JFores
                        misswills Nov 11, 2007 10:54 AM

                        I haven't found anyone that makes tofu daily, but then again I haven't really been prowling for tofu.

                        Most of the Chinatown supermarkets and even Hana Supermarket (the one I mentioned earlier) sell some "fresh" tofu -- the kind sold in individually wrapped plastic tubs where the tofu's swimming in water. Much of the tofu I've bought in this form seems to come from one supplier out in Surrey somewhere, which isn't too far away. Given that this type of tofu has a relatively short shelf life anyway, it's about as fresh as you're going to get.

                        The nice thing about Sichuan, though, is because it's heavy on spices it won't really matter if your tofu wasn't made fresh that day. :)

                        1. re: misswills
                          JFores Nov 11, 2007 12:16 PM

                          I've seen those and I bought one. Oh well. I sort of wanted to be able to have a variety (firm, semi, etc.)

                          1. re: JFores
                            misswills Nov 11, 2007 01:23 PM

                            For some reason the ones in the plastic tubs aren't made to have variety, which is odd to me, because they're packed the same way in CA but they come in firm, regular, and soft. *Shrugs*

                            Anyway, if you want variety the only way to get it is if you buy the aseptically packaged tofu (the shelf-stable tofu that comes in the cardboard box). Morinaga/Mori-Nu has the corner on that market and they sell this stuff most everywhere.

                            1. re: misswills
                              JFores Nov 11, 2007 02:18 PM

                              Alrighty I'll check that out. I just think I need super soft for something where as the general tub ones are fine for other stuff.

                              1. re: JFores
                                misswills Nov 11, 2007 02:24 PM

                                If you need super soft, Korean tofu might be a good idea. They sell that at Hana. It's sold in a clear plastic tube (kinda looks like a tube of toothpaste).

                                1. re: misswills
                                  JFores Nov 11, 2007 02:41 PM

                                  Yay! Thanks! I need to actually go to school so I can finally get back to Patak's and Store St.

                                  1. re: JFores
                                    greedygirl Apr 5, 2008 01:24 AM

                                    Out of interest, are you referring to Patak's the brand or is there an Indian spice shop I don't know about in London called Patak's? I really need some pomegranate powder but haven't been able to find any in Brixton.

                                    BTW - I found out this week that me and Fuchsia Dunlop share an employer (I got an e-mail from her about something). I've just ordered her book so now I can bombard her with questions! Did you have success with her book?

                                    1. re: greedygirl
                                      zuriga1 Apr 5, 2008 04:58 AM

                                      This may be what you're looking for. I used this site once. They have ground pomegranate seeds... same deal?


                                      1. re: zuriga1
                                        greedygirl Apr 5, 2008 05:51 AM

                                        Thanks for that link. Unfortunately the minimum order is £10 and as I only need the pomegranate seeds and some amchoor I think I'd be better of with a trip to Tooting (which is not that far, I'm just being lazy).

                                      2. re: greedygirl
                                        JFores Apr 6, 2008 04:29 PM

                                        You can find pomegranate powder at just about any proper deshi market. Banglaworld on Brick Lane, Taj there too, Patak's on Drummond, all of East London, Tooting, etc.

                      2. c
                        chowserchow Apr 21, 2008 09:54 AM

                        I've had difficulty finding chinese ingredients for my receipes. The main problem is I have no car and rely on shopping online. The best place I've found so far is www.waiyeehong.com . They do a good range of tinned/dried food and spices. I just wish that one of the online shops would start delivering fresh goods too.
                        Any suggestions?

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