July 2009

Wai Yee Hong Chinese SupermarketWai Yee Hong gets a glowing review on from another happy customer, who has written a really nice piece about their recent visit to our Bristol store. We’d like to thank ‘worst_trip’ for their kind words, and we will do everything we can to maintain our standards so that we are always their best trip!

We’d like to highlight that carrier bags are 5p each, with all proceeds going to the Under Privileged Children’s Charity (UPCC) (Charity No. 1365577), a local charity that provides aid for underprivileged children, and we try to keep a collection of carboard boxes which are offered to customers free of charge.

Advantages: Great range of Asian products and a free customer car-park
Disadvantages: New location can be slightly tricky to find at first

Wai Yee Hong is a very good Chinese / Asian supermarket based in Bristol – the same one that used to trade just off the Great Western Road in the Montpelier area. It’s moved location and is currently operating in (relatively) new premises nearby with a designated car park – a definite bonus, this.

The shop sells just about everything you need if you want to recreate the food of the Far East in the comfort of your own home. There are fresh and dry goods sections, selling some ‘authetic’ / ethic types of veg (and some fruit) that you’d be hard-pressed to find in any British supermarket, and a large freezer department where you can buy all sorts of frozen Asian shellfish and fish specialities, as well as various cuts of meat / offal that aren’t so popular on the British market. There are a selection of ‘street foods’ of Asia on sale – things like sweet rice cakes, siu mai and dim sum dumplings – available in the chillers or frozen, and all sorts of basic spices and speciality ingredients (often available in large or bulk quantities) for use in Asian cooking; bean sauces, oyster, soy and fish sauces, etc. Again, ‘authentic’ Asian brands that you won’t find stocked in most British supermarkets can be found here; you won’t be limited to products made by ‘mainstream’ companies in Britain such as Sharwoods or Blue Dragon here. There is also an alcohol section, stocking a selection of Asian beers, Japanese sake and other Far-Eastern spirits on sale; the beers (e.g. Tiger Beer and Singha Beer) perhaps a little preferable to some of the rubbing-alcohol-style fruit liquers on sale there that I’ve tried, but there’s a fair selection all the same. Overall the range of products stocked is extensive and excellent: while ingredients for example, from the cuisines of China, Japan and Korea tend to dominate, Wai Yee Hong also stock most of the basic spices used in Indian cooking, and also part-prepared seasoning sauces from other countries eg. Vietnam, the Phillipines and Malaysia. Compared to the prices charged in non-Asian supermarkets the prices at Wai Yee Hong are competitive and really quite reasonable.

Wai Yee Hong must’ve moved from its original location in Bristol to the new premises in Eastgate sometime between 2005 – 2007. Prior to this I was a regular customer but during this time I wasn’t living in the area, and I was very surprised to find when I moved back that the shop had apparently vanished without trace, as it always had lots of customers, and had always appeared to be a successful, thriving business. Bristol has at least one other Chinese supermarket (that I know of) – a friendly and also good but rather smaller operation – and until recently, when a chance internet search informed me that Wai Yee Hong was allive and well, just located somewhere new, I’d been going for my Asian shopping requirements to the other place by default.

The big advantage of the new Wai Yee Hong as mentioned previously, is that it has a large car-park for customers’ use. Parking was in short supply at the previous location, as it is at Wai Yee Hong’s local Chinese supermarket rival, but other than that, I thought the new location was rather bizarre – it’s in a smart-looking new development hidden away behind the Eastgate retail park just off the M32 in Bristol and is not easy to find. Leaving the M32 at the Bristol ‘Ikea’ roundabout you head for Ikea, but at the roundabout where you can turn left to go into the big Tesco’s carpark, or go straight over bearing left for Ikea, or into the Eastgate Retail Park, you’ll need to go straight over / bearing slightly right instead to get to the area with Wai Yee Hong in it. The new Wai Yee Hong isn’t visible from the roundabout, nor is its location signed with ‘new retail park, Chinese supermarket this way’ or anything like that; in fact there’s a sign pointing to the correct roundabout exit for the Chinese supermarket that actively dissuades vehicular traffic; it says something like ‘no through road’ or ‘access for deliveries only’ or something like that. I don’t know what public transport to this out-of-the-way location is like; though there are regular local buses to the Tesco and Ikea which are both in walking distance of the Wai Yee Hong’s new location.

Once off the roundabout you can see the Wai Yee Hong from the road on the right hand side. There are a couple of other Asian businesses in the new development – e.g. an all you can eat Chinese buffet / restaurant. A slimmed down version of the Eastgate Market that used to operate at the Bristol greyhound race track also runs in this area on Friday mornings, but other than that there is not a great deal going on. While the Wai Yee Hong business is quite large, it doesn’t seem quite adequate to effectively fill the huge new ware-house-style space that now forms its new accommodation, and while the old premises were becoming a tad cramped I think the new building is, as yet, a bit too big – though this is a minor criticism really.

The shop accepts credit and debit cards for transactions over £10, and in a new environmentally-friendly policy charges (I think) 10p for plastic bags so it’s worth bringing your own.

Summary: One-stop shop for Chinese, and other Asian, foods and ingredients

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