My romance with the food of Asia started Long ago but it’s when I travelled in South East Asia that I fell in love with the cuisine and especially with Thai food who I am currently in a delicious relationship with.
As a fan of Thai and Asian food, I need somewhere to source the harder to get exotic and esoteric ingredients. I’m really lucky I have a big Asian Supermarket near me. Not just so that I’m able to buy Asian ingredients, which would be hard to find otherwise, but because it is a culinary adventure.. Stepping inside one of these Asian supermarkets is to travel.
So it felt like Christmas when I found out there were actually 4 large Asian supermarkets near me!. One of them was just a few minutes away from my regular ( see woo ) How could this be! How did I not know?! My first reaction was STFU! No way! Then I was OMG which progressed immediately to OMFG. I had to go. I had to see. Well… YOLO, Obvs, A foodie adventure was in the offing!
So come with me on a culinary adventure to Asia via the streets of London. I’ll let you know what Tian Tian is like and review the goodies I brought back with me. Did I spend a lot? Oh yes. If I had a bank manager he would be admonishing me sternly and lecturing me about fiscal responsibility. But screw my imaginary bank manager. I regret nothing!
Let’s go to tian tian asian supermarket
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“Live with no excuses and travel with no regrets”~ Oscar Wilde.
I took DLR ( Dockland Light Railway ) to South Quay, The fantastic thing about the DLR is you can sit at the front and pretend to be the driver. Sitting in front also gives you a great forward facing window seat view. Mostly though it’s about pretending to be the driver. Come on, don’t act like you don’t wanna.
The walk to the supermarket is quite lovely, The dockside path is lined with trees. Gleaming buildings reach to touch the clouds. When I say “touch the clouds” I am not just waxing poetic. Cloudy is the modus operandi of the UK. Still, I don’t mind. It feels so fresh and vibrant. Across the water there’s a floating Chinese restaurant called The Lotus. I’ve not yet tried it but I love the idea of dining on a boat. I file it away in the bulging “some day” file in my brain’s disorganised filing system.
You have arrived at Tian Tian Asian Supermarket
“One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.”Henry Miller
Finally I arrived at my destination. I know this because Google Street Maps navigation tells me, “You’ve arrived at your destination,” It also helpfully tells me it’s on the left. Although the big bright sign that reads “TIEN TIEN” makes it a bit redundant, I do appreciate the efforts of the map so I don’t say anything. Maps have feelings too!
Tien Tien looks bright and modern. The glass doors that lead to Asian food heaven swoosh invitingly open and shut as people bustle in and out. My excitement is rising. I feel like a kid waiting to be let into the candy store. Hell, I AM a big kid and THIS is my candy store. I know I’ll probably get carried away. It’s time to put aside all thoughts and fears of the coming decimation to my bank account…
Inside Tian Tian Market
“I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurised Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure“– Anthony Bourdain
Before I buy anything I want to enjoy wondering around. I love to explore as much, or maybe even more, than actually buying and it has to be said this is a much cheaper passtime. Nobody got into debt window shopping.
A few steps into the store and I know that I already love this place. It has a TARDIS like quality. It’s much bigger on the inside than it looks from outside. They have just just about everything a foodie could dream about!
There are bottles of sauces from all over asia. There’s a bakery section full of tempting delights. I just want to grab all of it and put them into the basket. There are chilled foods and frozen foods. They have rows and rows of brightly coloured drinks. Packets of dried foods and snacks.
The choice on offer is really comprehensive. There’s even a section dedicated to Japanese and Korean food! The only slight disappointment is the small section of Thai ingredients or foods. As a massive Thai food foodie this is a bit of a let down. But I have other places to get that stuff so no big deal. The prices are actually very reasonable! I was surprised, given the location and swish look of the place.
They even have a whole section full of booze! My eyes are captured by the soju! I’ve seen it so many times in Kdrama but never had this before. There’s a bewildering variety of flavour.
But it’s the noodles section that captures my heart.
My guilty pleasure. ONE of my guilty pleasures. In fact I am not really guilty about it. I love it and I don’t care who knows it. You hear me world! I love salty umami rich unhealthy carb-tastic pots of sweet noodle joy. Come at me bro.
This section of the store is just what any instant noodle fan could ask for. There is just so much choice and to my delight there are many that I’ve not seen or tried before. I don’t do restraint all that well but I just about manage not to fill my basket instantly with too many instant noodles.
After my initial tour, I head to the start and this time fill my basket with brightly coloured exotic tasty treats. I’m a little nervous as I approach the till. I know this ain’t gonna be pretty. The friendly lady says hello. The till says beep beep beep this is gonna cost you. The store throws in a free noodle pot! I love this place.
“That will be £76 she says. Oh dear. I got carried away… But no regrets. I’ve not been able to travel due to the pandemic. It’s time to live a little and travel the world by taste. I can always get money again another day but I’ll never get back time or wonderful experiences and this is what matters. I head for home with a bag full of goodies and excitement in my heart! What a haul of foodie treasure!.
Tian Tian Asian food haul
“Food glorious food!“– Charles Dickens ( Oliver Twist )
It takes a couple of weeks to work my way through everything. It was so fun and interesting getting to try fragments of flavour from other places all the way across on the other side of the world. Here’s a run down of What I tried and a score for each. I will be scoring each out of five on my belly scale( TM) Let’s see what goodies I got!
I wish I had taken a photo of the packaging which was really lovely. This is a Japanese strawberry cake. The first thing that I tried. Moist cake with a yummy strawberry flavour. Good start!!
3/5 Bellies rating
Calabee Hot and Spicy Crisps
Japanese crisps! I do love something spicy so I was excited to try these crisps from Japan. I expect each potato is sliced by a samurai wielding a chilli drenched katana sword. Opening the bag revealed red bright red crisps! They certainly looked volcanic. I tried one with a little trepidation but I need not have worried. They have a gentle heat with a mild chilli flavour. The crisps are lovely and light without being oily. Very much enjoyed these!
Hot and Sour Noodles Pot
This was actually a freebie \o/ Maybe they felt sorry for me. I look poor. They obviously thought at least we can give this poor man a free pot of instant noodles because he spent so much and surely his childrens will become orphens. At least the childrens will get a hot meal before they are packed off to the work house.
My favourite noodles out of the ones I got! True to it’s name, this is hot and sour. The pot comes with 3 different little packets. The broth is a pool of vibrant red umami in which the vermicelli noodles are suspended. Good noods too that retain their chew. The rich and sour broth is offset with some vinegar that’s contained in one of the packs. Highly recommend these noods.
Wasn’t very impressed with this one. I got this because the bright yellow tub with cool art really stood out. You know what they say, never judge a noodle pot by it’s cover. A sesame based broth with large flat noodles. The broth lacked a punchy flavour and I was expecting a bit more sesame taste. The noodles themselves were good. Not bad but average.
Seafood Urdan Noodles
Really enjoyed this one.! The substantial broth is busting with a yummy seafood flavour. There are actual bits of various reconstituted seafood too. The noodles are good too. Really very enjoyable.
Mama Instant pork porridge ( jok moo )
One of my favourite things in all the world is the beautiful warm hug in a bowl that is congee and specifically the Thai style of rice porridge known as jok. So I was delighted to find packs of mama instant jok moo. I got four of these packets. Of course not as good as the real thing but still a satisfying breakfast in minuets. I like to garnish with some chopped spring onion, little sriracha & sesame oil.
Purple Yam Soft Cheese Bread
This is exactly as described. It’s bread. It has purple yam and soft cheese inside it. I really like how most of Asia views bread. Here in the west, mostly, bread is just bread. Occasionally it might have some sort of seeds or nuts on the outside and if we are feeling really crazy there might even be seeds or nuts inside it.. Woooo.
But in Asia it seems anything goes. If it can fit inside of a bread then it’s going inside the bread. Breads in Asia are stuffed with all kinds of wonderful ingredients ( both sweet and savoury ) such as curry, hot dog, corn, cream, sweet potato, ube, coconut, pork floss, bbq pork… The fillings seem endless. If you think about it, this makes sense because bread is a perfect blank canvas.
The centre of this particular bread is filled with purple yam and soft cream cheese. This is a lovely combination: creamy sweetness and earthy savoury notes hugged by yeasty bread. I really enjoyed this.
Time for a drink. I love the Asian penchant for “lumpy drinks” which is another thing we tend not to do. This one called Mogu Mogu ( which is Japanese for chew chew ) is a pineapple flavoured drink with chunks of fruity pineapple jelly. It’s refreshing although a bit sweet too sweet for me. I wasn’t sure where this originated from but after a little internet sleuthing, I discovered that Mogu Mogu is produced in Thailand by a Thai company.
Back to the noods action. I’ve seen these noodles cooked on many of the Kdrams that I’ve watched so I have been curious for awhile now. These noodles are very popular in Korea. The thick black sauce that clings to the noodles is earthy, rich and salty with a touch of sweetness. I pimpled it out with some ground pork and spring onions. Delicious!
Sweet & Sour Pickled Plum Crisps
These crisps are great! Definitely one of the favourite things I got from Tian Tian Market. Firstly love the plush purple packet. The crisps themselves have a wonderful flavour.. The pickled plum flavour isn’t too intense, just about right. Each bite is a mouth party of sweet, sour, and salty potato joy. I would get these crisps again.
Posh noodles! I think these were over £6! Special occasion instant noodles. The packet certainly looks premium. Would this make a great bowl of Laksa? How good can an instant noodle be?! I got the water boiling and put that to the test. Since these were some fancy pants noodles they required some fancy pants ingredients so I added fried tofu puffs, spring onions, and some pan fried prawns.
As they say, the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the proof is in the noodles. Gotta say they I was impressed. This was a great bowl of laksa. If you gave me this and I didn’t see you cooking instant noodles then I would swear they were home made. Absolutely delicious. It is everything you could want a laksa to be!
Makgeolli is a Korean fermented alcoholic sparkling rice wine. I was really interested in trying this! It has a tangy, creamy alcoholic sort of taste. It’s quite strange for me! For anybody in the UK, to me, it’s almost like a fizzy milk & magnesia flavour. because it has that chalky milky taste. I would love to try it again because I think once I got used to makgeoli then I would really enjoy it.
I’ve wanted to try this for so Long! Tian Tian Market has so many varieties!!! Since I am a fan of Kdramas, I was curious to try it to because people in Kdramas are always drinking sojo. Had a bad day at the office? Soju. Have a dinner date? Soju. Birthday party? Soju. Meeting up with friends? Soju. Snacks time? Soju. Breakfast? Soju! Okay… not the last one but Koreans drink a LOT of this stuff. Must be good, right?
I sort of wish that I had chosen the plain version to get the perfect idea what soju tastes like but this peach flavour soju was delicious. The flavour was not too sweet nor was it harsh but you can definitely tell that it’s an alcoholic drink. I really enjoyed this and would like to buy more soju in the future. Now I know about Tian Tian Market, I can easily buy it!
Old Town White Coffee
I discovered white coffee in Malaysia in a beautiful coffee house. This creamy mild coffee sweetened with condensed milk has a unique and wonderful taste. On the way back home, I saw a bag of instant white coffee and decided to bring it back home with me. Obviously not as good but still tastes great.
Whenever I see it on salt at Asian supermarkets, such as Tian Tian Market, I have to buy a pack. Taste is love, place, time, history, culture and memory. Every time I drink a cup, of white coffee, I am back in that sunshine splashed coffee house, rich with toasty aroma, and the whop whoop whop of fans. I love to live again the memories of places I’ve been via taste. But even if you have never been to Malaysia, you’ll sure to love the white coffee.
Tian Tian Market location and details
opening times for Tian Tian
Mon – Thur ( 10am till 9pm )
Mon – Thu: 10:00 till 21:00
Fri – Sat: 10:00 till 21:30
Sun: 12:00 till 18:00
How to get to Tian Tian Market Canary Wharf ( Isle of Dog )
Address: Tian Tian: 48 Lanterns Way, Isle of Dogs, London E14 9JP
I visited The Canary Whaf Tian Tian location but they also have one in Aldgate. The opening times are the same for both of the stores.
How to get to Tian Tian Market Aldgate
Address: Tian Tian Market: 18 Piazza Walk, London E1 8ZN
“To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”– Freya Stark
I love travel because It creates in me an endless waterfall of wonder. Everything is new. I love to wake up in a new city, embraced by new sounds and scents. Every day is an age of discovery. Everything old is new again. We are rendered as children again -wide eyed with wonderment.
I love food. Not simply just the taste or the sensation of eating -but I’m also fascinated by the cultures, history, and geography that gave birth to them. For me, food is travel. I can be transported in a bite. The joy of discovering new tastes and new textures and knowing that somebody halfway across the world might be eating the same. We are all brought together by the dinner table.
Supermarkets dedicated to various cuisines combine my love of travel and food all in one. I get to experience the joy and wonderment of the unfamiliar and unexplored. Row after row of exotic and brightly packaged unknown presents to be unwrapped. It feels like such an adventure. A delicious adventure!
I had so much fun trying everything and I hope you had fun coming along for the ride. I feel really lucky to have not just one Asian supermarket near me but four of them!! I look forward to exploring the other ones in the future.
If you’ve been to Tian Tian Asian supermarket, then I would love to hear what you think! What’s your favourite Asian supermarket or in fact any specialist market dedicated to a particular region or country? If you enjoyed this London food adventure than you might also enjoy reading some of my previous London food posts: Arome Bakery and Greenwich Market
If you enjoyed this please consider sharing to social media because this really helps the site grow. Thanks for reading, stay hungry! stay safe!
Wow…..this is amazing! As an Asian, I’m happy to see that there is an Asian supermarket in London. H go lad you enjoyed your visit to Tian Tian Asian Supermarket.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your next write ups
thanks once again.
My friend is always looking for these shops. I will pass this on.
I really enjoyed this post Martin! Especially with the little video’s in it! Tian Tian looks so clean! The one BIG store we have here is not a quarter as clean! (I go to a small one in my town as you know, but it doesn’t look like Tian Tian.) A must visit when I come to London! I’ll pass for the sweet things you bought, but would love to try the other ones. I do have the Mama jok moo in the house, in “case of urgencies”. Haha! I pimp it with a lot of things. And you know, just like you love to wonder in that store, my ultimate dream is being locked up at night in a store like this, with a trolley/table and a microwave, to test everything out!
Really a very nice post! Love reading your food adventures!
This is such a great post! I think it’s so easy to overlook places like this when there’s a Tesco Metro or Co-Op on every street corner, but this write-up has already got me thinking that I *must* pay more visits to the Asian supermarkets near me.
Tian Tian looks great, and you certainly picked up a great haul of things to try. No idea when I’ll next be in Canary Wharf, but I’ll definitely check it out when the time comes. Thanks for sharing 🙂
Such a fun post! I haven’t eaten much Asian food, but this looks good x
I love visiting foreign food supermarkets. Firstly because I always find a name or two to giggle at, but secondly, and most importantly, because it is like travelling. I always end up with way more than I need for dishes that I then try and cook but end up destroying. I do wish we had more variety near us.