Spotlight on Food Stories in a Tooting Community
These photos were taken by one of our Community Ambassadors, Tara Rudd, Content Creator and Food Activist. Find out more about Tara here.
In appreciation of the food businesses around Tooting - this photo essay gives you a quick tour around the area highlighting stories of the people who’ve brought them to you.
When we’re out of this lockdown we hope it encourages you to eat with a renewed respect for your local businesses; to reflect on Hospitality not as a “quest for authenticity” but a mutual exchange and “harbour for stories” [Priya Basil, Be My Guest] in which we celebrate them and put money into supporting migrant-led communities.
1. Ading’s Kitchen
A Filipino grocery and hair salon turned restaurant, bar and bakery - the adaptability of spaces like Ading’s Kitchen are a testament to people like Velly (below) keeping them going through ‘regeneration’ and COVID-19. Here you will find Cornish prawns, handmade steamed dumplings, squidgy sapin sapin cake and sour prawn sinigang - served in beautiful clay pots brought back from the Philippines. There’s also late night karaoke. Spaces like these fill you up with connections, not just what’s on the plate.
A (30-year) Pakistani chef, who previously owned another food place in Brixton but sold it - he wanted to "bring something different" to Tooting. And he certainly does - fresh mango kulfi, Pakistani chicken soup with black salt and a garam masala made of 10 different spices; ‘Wake Me Up’ tonic, fresh samosa chaat [below] and weekly off-menu surprises widening our eyes to the dishes he knows best.
3. Spicy Noodle Cafe
Double burger, egg and chips with your roast duck noodles? Side of hash browns and apple pie for after? With aloe vera juice and a fridge stocked full of Kit-Kats - Sonny's got you covered.
… and thank god for that:
Chilli oil and soy sauce cuddle Batts Brown sauce and Ketchup, and paintings line the wall from the 80’s:
4. Bhavin’s Vegetable Shop
4. Bless Bakes
He’s had to change it during COVID-19 in order to survive - selling everything from groceries to broomsticks to electric scooters - and is still doing his amazing steamed buns and chilli oil:
There have been recent plans to ‘regenerate’ this market into a 3 story tower. Will it help? “Of course it won’t - rents keep rising” (JoJo), with no relief from the landlord during COVID-19. The focus should be on maintaining the diversity of the spaces already in there, championing individuality before bringing in businesses who have multiple stores already.
A Mauritian eatery in Tooting Market serving fresh dal puri rotis with butter bean curry, coconut pudding, lamb haleem soups and more. Ravi [above] has had to introduce cocktails to the menu to please the changing crowds and compete with new bars opening. But he still manages to make it all beautiful!
7. Roti Joupa
Trini curried duck rotis, hot doubles, fresh sorrel juice and tamarind soaked pholourie balls - get them all from Mr and Mrs Singh’s takeaway shop in Clapham. [You can read more about their story in Community Ambassador, Riaz Phillip’s book Belly Full. documenting Caribbean Food in the UK].
Garfield opened Ting 'n' Ting in 2012, serving Guyanese and Caribbean food. Despite the changes in the area, he’s kept a steady local customer base - “I see customers who used to come in as children now back with their babies”.
9. Liqui Liqui
A Venezuelan shop (and street food business) in Colliers Wood. During COVID-19 - owners Erika (from Venezuela) and Ryan (from Cornwall) joined forces with Wimbledon Brewery in an outdoor spot to get around the restrictions. Erika [above] said it went really well! Look out for it this Summer. Their shop is beautiful and so is the food - Venezuelan iced cocada shakes, cheesy tequenos, homemade arepas and more:
One of the only places you can get proper Srilankan Hoppers in London, and it has been open on Tooting High Street for 30 years. Pre-order hoppers the night before: breakfast egg ones, sweet milk ones, string hoppers, deep fried banana doughnuts stuffed with chana dal and side coconut green chutney. You can sit in their backroom (post lockdown!) which is beautiful - or pop in before and take-away a mutton roll.
11. The Mango Sellers of Tooting
Mango season is coming soon into bloom and Tooting is the place to be for it! Yellow-bellied Alphonsos spill out onto the streets and the perfumey smell with it. Special shout out to Shabir [below], who gives the occasional free Cornetto out with his boxes of Pakistani Honey’s: