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Mjx

"Deep" Shopping in London: Beyond the Big and Obvious

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I'll be spending a fair amount of time in London in the near future, but the city is completely new to me, so my knowledge of its particularly worthy features is more or less non-existant, and we've done any food shopping at the big supermarkets and department stores, which are relatively well stocked. However, I'd love to find shops that carry unusual, specialized, or otherwise interesting and useful selections of ingredients and kitchen articles.

 

Anyone care to share their favourites?

 

Thanks :smile:


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I don't know if some would call these obvious or not, but I really like Books for Cooks and Japanese Knife Company.

 

The first is an independent bookshop with both old and new books. It can get crowded when they arrange lunches in there, but when you go outside that time (early or later) you'll be able to browse what is a pretty decent book selection, although the more obvious Foyles near Tottenham Court Rd is arguably better.

 

I've only been to Japanese Knife Company once, but was immediately really impressed by the strong knowledge of the owner (I went to the Baker street outlet). They have an incredible selection of knives which they allow you to try before buying.

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I second the call for Books for Cooks. I can spend hours in there.

 

I'm from north London, so can heartily recommend Green Lanes for Greek and Turkish Cypriot shopping.

 

In central London,  I Camisa and Lina Stores  are two excellent Italian delis. Both in Soho. 

 

Neal's Yard Dairy for the best selection of British and Irish cheeses. La Fromagerie for French and other European (and American) cheeses.

 

In the south, Brixton has become quite a foodie area in recent years. Food from all over the world.

 

In the east, Ridley Road in Dalston is home to Caribbean markets mixed in with Thai and Vietnamese.


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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Thanks for the suggestions so far, and please keep them coming (and apologies for not responding sooner: I was in transit to/from airports, flying)! Brixton and Divertimenti are sounding particularly good, and I actually kind of like Borough Market, but just cannot deal with the crowds, and will be taking a look at Maltby Street.
 

Which part of London will you be in? Might be able to suggest some local markets.


We've been staying at different places, and are not far from Bloomsbury Square at the moment, but I'm most interested in anything that is within a one-hour-walking-distance from, say, London Bridge (I'm impatient with public transit, and don't love crowds), although I'd certainly consider breaking out the Oyster card for someplace that is farther away than that.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Wow! My London home is 5 minutes walk from Bloomsbury Sq.. We'd be neighbours if I wasn't in China.

My Soho recommendations are certainly in much less than one-hour walking distance, as is Neal's Yard.

 

Green Lanes and Ridley Road would require some public transport, but aren't crowded. 

 

Anything in particular you are looking for?


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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Anything in particular you are looking for?

Partly, it's just the pleasure of browsing. Also, Denmark has a somewhat narrow selection of goods, so from the standpoint of actually buying things, places with broad arrays of 'standard' items are of interest, and I'm also interested in things related to making sweets, modernist ingredients, assorted Southeast Asian cooking ingredients, and traditional local items (if there is any such thing, any longer).

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Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I haven't lived there for a few years now, but even though it's touristy I liked browsing the Harrods food level. I never actually bought anything there, but it was always interesting. I'm not sure if you're looking for somewhere to do your weekly grocery shopping or places that are worth a trip to buy stuff, but simply from a 'pleasant way to spend an afternoon' you can have fun at the big tourist traps like Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges & Harrods. Fortnum & Mason may have changed their layout in the past few years, but they used to have all the interesting stuff in the lower-ground level with hardly any people there - so the big crowds would be on the main floor but you can escape them downstairs quite easily (is that still the case?)

I was living there in 2007 when they opened the first Whole Foods in Kensington. The concept of a 3-story supermarket blew my mind back then and once again I enjoyed looking around even though I hardly bought anything. Might not be novel to Americans, but I'd never seen anything like it before - certainly not in 2007.

Even though these are big, obvious and reasonably touristy places they still fit your description of places that carry unusual, specialized, or otherwise interesting and useful selections of ingredients and kitchen articles.

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Chinatown is within walking distance, too. I'd give 99% of the restaurants a miss, though. Pap for tourists, mainly. But the supermarkets are OK. Lots of Chinese stuff, obviously, but also SE Asian ingredients.

 

New Loon Moon in Gerrard Street (Chinatown's main drag) is good,  as is Loon Fung. SeeWoo on Lisle Street (which runs parallel to Gerrard Street one block south is an old favourite of mine. All things east and south-east Asian.

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I went to Harrods once many years ago and was impressed by it. However, when I visited the second time and was literally ran after by an employee when I started eating an item I had just bought, being told that it's forbidden to eat there, I got ticked off and quite frankly don't want to return there ever again. Their policy of you being forced to carry all your bags in your hand says it all. You can get better service and the same selection in other shops anyway (especially clothes).

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