Sometimes I feel I must have a very simple mind, because I can be very pleased by very simple things. Take my visit to the Wing Yip Centre.
This complex, just outside Croydon, is one of four across the UK. It has a bakery, a couple of massage/traditional Chinese ‘medicine’, three restaurants (it used to be four, but the buffet restaurant has closed) of which two are Chinese and one Vietnamese, the Porcelain House, some print shops and accountants, and a Chinese TV channel provider.
However the main attraction for me was the huge Asian supermarket. This contained aisles of frozen, fresh, canned and dried foods, plus cooking equipment.
The shelves are stocked with Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Korean, Malaysian and Filipino goods, and probably more that I missed.
They have one of the largest selections of Chinese vegetarian food I have seen in the UK, so I am likely to return here regularly.
For those of you who prefer unusual rather than mock meat, the veggie section is opposite the pork uterus (!) and pork and beef organs section.
They have a small live seafood section for those who like a challenge, or if you prefer your food frozen, they have a big range of prepared ingredients – including a whole freezer aisle of various types of prawns!
Fortunately also frozen, due to its terrible smell, they have durian, either chopped or whole. I didn’t buy any of that…
They also operate as a wholesaler, I believe, and the back of the store is a huge warehouse, with items like 100 litre cans of cooking oil. I didn’t really need those, but if I ever open my restaurant, I may have a supplier…
When I had finished in the market, I popped outside to check out the other shops. I grabbed a yoo tiau from the bakery, and had a look at the ‘art gallery’ – really just a selection of prints and paintings for sale, but quite nice – and the Porcelain House.
In here there are all sorts of traditional-looking Chinese vases from 10cm to 2m, plus little water features which were attractive but too expensive for me.
Overall, I spent more than an hour here. Admittedly that is because I love looking around new supermarkets, especially Asian ones, but if that is something which appeals to you then Wing Yip is by a long way the best I have been to in Europe. It is open from 09.30-19.00 Mon-Sat and 11.30-17.30 on Sundays.
Address: 544 Purley Way, Croydon CR04NZ