Since arriving in London about a month ago, I have taken it upon myself to explore every inch of this wonderful city while I still have the time to. First stop – Ridley Road Shopping Village located in the Hackney, East London.
How did I come to find this gem of a place? My friend, Jordaania heard about the place from our Professor who then invited me on trip down to Hackney to check it out. She told us it was a vibrant open air market that boasts a lot of african products, foodstuffs and the freshest fruits, veggies and meat products in London. The African in me had to check it out especially because I was really itching for some Shea butter products for my hair and Jordania really wanted to get her hands on some fresh halal meat and black eyed beans.
Hackney is quite a distance from Harrow – where I live, so this turned out to be quite the trip for us on this rainy Saturday afternoon. 3 trains and an hour later, we finally arrived and immediately we stepped out of the station the aura had changed so much. We had gone from busy but quiet central london to a very loud and chaotic part of Hackney. A Ghanaian man yelling ‘Plantains – 80p! Plantains – 80p!’ outside the train station, assured me that we were in the right place. Ridley’s Shopping Village spans about 2 miles long on one long stretch of tarmac. Various stalls are set up on opposite sides with vendors selling everything from bunches of freshly picked spinach to an array of fresh crab, lobster, tilapia and sea bass.
A lot of vendors had similar items but all at competitive prices – for instance one was selling a head of broccoli at £1 and another was selling three heads at £1… Now I know not to go with the first vendor that approaches you.
Tip: Take a look around all the way down to the far end of the market to know who’s selling what and at how much so you can compare prices
Ridley Road also has one of the largest hair and beauty store in the city called Pax Hair Supply. The place is as big as your biggest Nakumatt/Sainsbury’s/Walmart. Suffice it to say, I did get the Shea butter I needed and a whole lot more.
Tip #2: Carry a big enough bag when taking a trip here because as much as you think you won’t spend much – you actually will be lugging a whole bunch of bags at the end of the day. You don’t want to hurt your shoulders and back all in the name of shopping now do you?
Several hair salons are lined up on the right side of the market, each one again offering the same services; braiding, perm, treatment, barbershop and mani/pedis but at different prices. I recommend the salon nearest to the market entrance, the hairdresser there had the best rates and it was the cleanest of the bunch too.
Various eating spots can also be found here with cuisines such as Indian, Turkish, Jamaican and Nigerian being represented to the fullest. Looking at the images below, you can tell which cuisine we settled on.
Lucky’s Fried Chicken is located right behind the Pax Hair & beauty store I mentioned above. It’s a small kiosk serving the very best Chicken and beef biriani, chicken tikka, chicken masala and fresh naan made right in front of you. This was the perfect meal to recharge after a couple of hours of walking around the market and it helps that the chefs there are very friendly too.
Four hours and three heavy bags later, we had to bid Ridley Road goodbye because we had spent more money than we had planned and could not even dare try carry anymore shopping bags. This market is now my go-to place for fresh produce, for my meat fix and even for a quick touch up for my hair. Having everything in one area and making it super affordable at that, makes Ridley Road Shopping Village a must see for anyone new to London or any Londoner looking to experience Hackney.