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Jul 3, 2009 06:08 PM

fresh produce/fish in Southwark

I just moved to London from Boston (well, Cambridge, really), and miss having nearby grocery stores & farmers markets brimming with fresh produce. (For those who might know, I'm specifically thinking about Russo's and New Deal fish market). I cook at home very frequently, and rely very much on fresh fruits and vegetables, fortified often with tofu/tempeh/fresh fish. (I haven't been able to find tofu or tempeh in Sainsbury's or Tesco' I blind? am I looking in the wrong section?). Here's a food blog I'm keeping with a friend, if you're interested:
So here are my questions:

--where can I buy fresh fruits and vegetables at a reasonable price? I'm a student, if that clarifies anything.

--where's a good fishmonger? I'm thinking whole fish and/or sushi-grade. Or, if that doesn't work, fillets are fine.

--where can I buy bulk food items? (grains, nuts, etc).

--do you recommend an Asian (or specifically, Korean) grocery store? I really miss Kimchi and I feel I might go mad without a fix soon.

I live on Grange Rd (SE1) and work near the British Library. From briefly scanning the board, I get the sense that the Borough market has lots of prepared foods but is really crowded and not suitable for regular weekly shopping; that tesco's and sainsbury's are better in the 'burbs, one needs a car in order to reach them (I do have a bike though). let me know if you have suggestions!

Also, while I'm at it, if you have any cheap/good lunch suggestions near the British library, let us hear it!

Thanks for any help/information---


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  1. Tofu should be found in every supermarket. Look for it near the Quorn products and Cauldron is the brand of tofu I see most often and use myself.

    Further down on the list of topics, you'll see a recent one about a shop that sells bulk nuts, grains etc. It's in Islington and sounds interesting. Personally, I think you can do better than the Borough Market if you are a student budget. The fish, for instance, is fairly pricey.

    Welcome to London. Be careful when you say you're from Boston and Cambridge. I know where you mean, but there are also a Boston and Cambridge right here. :-)

    2 Replies
    1. re: zuriga1

      Is "unpackaged" the place you're talking about? I did check out Borough Market just to see what it is, and it's quite fun and all, and pricey. Oh the myth of a European open-air market. Still, a panini I tried was _quite_ delightful.

      1. re: briefsoy

        Yes, Unpackaged is the place. I haven't been there yet... maybe before too long just to see what they do.

        Borough Market has been there for a very long time, and I'm sure it was more economical for Londoners back in the old days. As you're no doubt finding out, London is pricey compared to what you're used to in the States... and a good bagel is hard to find. :-) I find NYC almost a bargain now when I go back. At least the dollar goes farther here now than it did a few years ago.

        My British husband asked me the other day if there are pannini in America. I really don't know - do you?

    2. Welcome to London!

      It might be interesting for you to visit the original Boston and Cambridge to check out the differences!

      In Southwark/Lambeth there are lots of market options for you regarding fruit and veg.

      I like Peckham market, for all your fruit and veg needs (there's a good deal of more exotic options) You'll also find fresh fish, meats and just about everything else. Peckham is really a 'local' market and you may find it a little full on, espcially as a newcomer, but don't let that put you off, you'll save so much. You can get to Peckham from London Bridge, alight at Peckham Rye station.

      North Cross Road market near East Dulwich has fresh fish and meats and is quite interesting for all the other things they do there. They are open all week, at least I think they still are. You can get there by taking the tube from London Bridge to East Dulwich and from there it's a short 10 min walk.

      While you're here you may as well hop on the 133 and head down to Brixton - for an experience. Lots of fish and meat and all sorts of fruit and veg on offer - very resonably priced as well.

      In terms of tofu and stuff, any supermarket will stock them. Waitrose has a good selection.

      I'm sure some Korean food hounds can give you some pointers on where to find Kimchi and other bits.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Nii

        Hi there!

        Fish - Applebees which is a regular fish shop by Borough Market is great and OK price wise. You could also try going to the fish warehouse in Brixton opposite Tesco on Coldharbour lane. Ridiculously cheap. It's all frozen, but in a lot of cases that's better...amazingly huge bags of really good quality prawns for nada, and I know it's where a lot of the asian restaurants in London get some of their fish. If you follow Nii's suggestion and go to East Dulwich there is a great fish shop called Moxons down Lordship Lane. Beautiful fish, friendly guys. Almost immediately opposite is William Rose which is a brilliant butchers, as the 30 minute queue down the street testifies...

        Kimchi - all the food shops in Chinatown sell it, or the Japan Centre on Piccadilly.

        For your oriental fix, either Chinatown, or there are some good shops in Brixton, or you could always try online eg Wing Yip.

      2. For vegetables stop by lower marsh market on your way to or from the british library. The stall to head to is half way down run by a guy called Mani. The man's produce is impeccable. Across the road is Greensmiths, which has excellent produce as well, though more pricey. Not much fish though, sadly. The best place for fish in south london I've found so far is Madiera a portugese store on south lambeth road. Might be a bit out of your way though. Since your cycling to north london Steve Hatt on the essex road would be worth checking out.

        1. Might be worth searching, I seem to remember a similar thread on this... There's a regular market in Bermondsey (the Blue Market, off Southwark Park Road), and if you get the 188 bus to Elephant & Castle, you can get good value fruit & veg at the market there, or just down the Walworth Road at East St. There's a Thai/Vietnamese store on the Walworth Road (Hiep Phat) and Baldwin's Health Store (next to the library) has tofu, tempeh, and all the nutty-crunchy things you could wish for. There's a large Tesco in Surrey Quays shopping centre - yes, it's a supermarket, but it's a large and decent one. Try Store St (off Tottenham Court Road) for Korean grocery stores, or head to Mare St, Hackney. HTH!

          1 Reply
          1. re: babybat

            Just went to the one on East street today--I went rather late, so only caught the tale end, but got me some fish and some vegetables and will be pretty happy for dinner, I think. Thanks for the recs.

          2. Hi - welcome to Southwark! Hope you like living here.

            East Street was also going to be my recommendation for cheap fresh produce. It's not open on Mondays and I think there are slightly more fruit and veg stalls on Saturdays than Sundays. Otherwise, Lidl on the corner of Massinger Street and the Old Kent Road normally offers cheap deals on their fruit and veg, plus it's a good place to stock up on storecupboard basics.

            The other supermarkets on the Old Kent Road are Tesco (corner of Dunton Road and OKR) and Asda, (5 minutes walk further south, on the corner of Olmar St and OKR). Both are as big as a suburban supermarket, have wet fish counters (won't be as cheap as the East Street fishmongers) and a more varied selection of veg than East Street or Lidl. Tesco has smaller queues, Asda is open 24 hours Mon-Saturday and has a better world food section but is a nightmare on Sundays unless you really like standing in lines.

            Just before Asda, on the corner of Malt Street and OKR is Man Gee Oriental Supermarket. They definitely have jars of kimchi in the chiller.

            Another store worth taking a look at is the Old Kent Road Super Store (bright orange, just before Tesco). Ignore the fresh produce - apart from the watermelon slices, it doesn't sell quick enough and is sat getting covered in fumes all day - but the spices, sacks of rice, dried pulses, flower waters, vats of houmous and yogurt are good. They also have a halal butchers and sell lovely freshly baked breads. It's not always the cheapest option, especially for dried fruit, but it has some bargains and plenty of things you won't get in the supermarket.

            Finally, Peckham Farmers Market on Sundays (9.30-1.30, in front on the library on Peckham Hill Street) has fresh fish, as well as meat, breads, cheeses and plants. It is pretty small and can be pricey, but go towards the end of the session and you can normally get deals on the more perishable things.