This year Chinese New Year falls on Monday, 8th February, so today we thought it fitting to go and pay a visit to a well-known Chinese supermarket - Hoo Hing, at Mitcham, Surrey.
On the map, Mitcham is less than 40 miles from us, and the Sat-Nav predicted a journey time of 1 hour and 2 minutes, but in the event it took us considerably longer, due to various holdups and the scarcely-credible multiplicity of traffic-lights in the New Malden / Mitcham area! Still, it was worth the effort, because this place offers a very wide range of oriental goodies. It is more of a Cash-and-Carry than a supermarket, and I think the majority of their customers are the proprietors of restaurants. The look of the place is more like a warehouse than a conventional supermarket:
The goods on sale are mostly of a Chinese nature, though Malaysian items are well represented, as are Japanese. I had expected there to be more New Year merchandise on display, but it was not prominent:
We had come with a shopping-list which contained mostly tinned and dried items, things we frequently use and needed to stock-up on, but we were also on the lookout for anything that looked / sounded nice. We have a Chinese supermarket not far from us (in Reading) where we can get most of the items we use most often, but Hoo Hing has a much bigger selection, and it was nice to go somewhere different.
I wasn't attracted by the display of live Lobsters just inside the entrance.
But I was much more interested in the vegetables...
Krachai is also known as Lesser Galangal.
There was some very fine-looking Lemongrass
These are Thai Green Papayas, which we almost never see in the "conventional" shops. We get the sweet yellow ones occasionally.
Chillis of course. Of course!
Just recently Jane and I have been watching the series of programmes on TV about John Torode exploring the cuisine of Malaysia, which has re-invigorated our interest in this subject, so it was nice to see many of the staples available on Hoo Hing's shelves.
Belacan is shrimp paste, ubiquitous in Malaysian savoury dishes!
Sambal Oelek and Sambal Nasi Goreng are strictly speaking Indonesian condiments, but popular in Malaysia too.
Look at this - 10kgs of Malaysian curry powder in one tub - that would keep us going for a month or two!
There's no mistaking where this comes from... (It's palm sugar, by the way)
Many of the products eaten by people from Far Eastern nations seem odd to British tastes. I bet not many Brits would dare to sample these Chickens' feet!
Nor indeed Tripe in Black Bean sauce.
These Fish Balls would certainly not pass my lips!
These Chinese mushrooms are normally considered too strongly-flavoured for European tastes.
To those used only to Campbell's soup from a tin, this "Soup Stuff" might seem a bit outlandish. Don't ask me what was in it...
What about these? Hmmm, I wonder what the texture is like?
I had never come across Knotty Yam before, and I certainly wouldn't know how to cook it.
"Dried Fish Floss" sounds like a flavoured dental care product.
I remember these though. We used to get them sometimes for our girls, when we lived in Hong Kong.
Hoo Hing also sells non-food items, mostly aimed at the restaurant trade, like these woks:
I was quite taken with this glazed pottery soup-pot. It looked very attractive, and I seriously considered buying it, but I didn't think we could find a place for it in our kitchen. Besides, it was very pricey - not the £3.96 on the shelf-edge label below it!
At one end of the store is a restaurant, serving a small selection of basic Chinese dishes. Here's the menu:
Since it was lunch-time we decided to place an order, and we were very glad we did. The food was delicious and very reasonably-priced. We both had the same - No.22: Roast Duck and Pork with Rice (£3.29 per portion).
I'm not going to give a full run-down of what we bought, but just let me mention one item. We bought this big pack of Beef.
It is the cut called Eye Round - a bit like a slightly less choice Fillet. That pack weighed 1.808kgs, and cost only £9.38 - i.e. £5.19 per kilo. We think that is amazingly good value.
The pack contained two of these pieces of beautiful lean meat. We cut each one into three, each plenty big enough for a 2-person serving, and most of them have been frozen for use at a later date.
The trip to Hoo Hing would have been worth it just for the meat, but we also now have kitchen cupboards bursting with interesting oriental ingredients. I expect some of them will feature on our blogs before many days have passed!