The corner of An­coats that’s turned into ‘Lit­tle Viet­nam’

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By ALEXAN­DRA RUCKI alexan­dra.rucki@trin­i­tymir­ @Alexan­draRucki

STEAM­ING bowls of noo­dles, dan­gling red lan­terns and a cash ma­chines dis­play­ing only Can­tonese char­ac­ters...

This could eas­ily be a scene from Hong Kong or the Viet­namese cap­i­tal city Hanoi, but we are stand­ing out­side a small pa­rade of shops in An­coats.

A stretch of Old­ham Road – not far from Manch­ester city cen­tre – has slowly been trans­formed into a small hub for South East Asian busi­nesses.

Pre­vi­ously the area was nick­named Lit­tle Italy, due to the in­flux of Ital­ian im­mi­grant set­tlers who moved to Manch­ester in the late 19th cen­tury.

But now it’s known to some as Lit­tle Viet­nam, where cafes sell bowls of pho noo­dles in­stead of pasta.

The busi­nesses which have now set up shop are pre­dom­i­nately Viet­namese, with three cafes and a Viet­namese su­per­mar­ket. There are also some Chi­nese busi­nesses in­clud­ing the Chi­nese Cul­tural Art Cen­tre and a par­cel ship­ping ser­vice.

A large rea­son busi­nesses have cho­sen this area is that the Wing Yip Chi­nese su­per­mar­ket, the big­gest Ori­en­tal su­per­mar­ket in Manch­ester, is just across the road. And when The Viet­namese Store opened 12 years ago, a num­ber of traders were also at­tracted to the area.

Chi Luong Diep runs the store on be­half of his mother-in-law. Ini­tially it was dif­fi­cult to at­tract foot­fall. But once word-of-mouth got out the shop has soon be­gan to bus­tle with Viet­namese-Man­cu­ni­ans vis­it­ing reg­u­larly to buy es­sen­tial items that would be hard to source in even the most cos­mopoli­tan su­per­mar­ket.

The store was orig­i­nally based fur­ther up Old­ham Road, but moved into a big­ger premises closer to the Manch­ester city cen­tre end of the road five years ago. Ca Phe Viet then opened three years ago, which is at­tached to the su­per­mar­ket.

Busi­ness­man Diep, 35, told the M.E.N.: “We get a lot of cus­tomers from Viet­nam and China here. We don’t get many English cus­tomers apart from work­ers around here.

“The Viet­namese Store was the first one to open. Since then oth­ers have fol­lowed. There are two cafes, and the nail sup­ply shop. It was quiet when we first opened. At the start it was not busy as peo­ple didn’t know about it.

“I think we have these shops be­cause a lot of the Asian com­mu­nity live a bit fur­ther up in Miles Plat­ting and An­coats and maybe be­cause it is close to town a lot of peo­ple tend to live here.”

Diep, who was born in Manch­ester and now lives in Chea­dle, Stock­port, said the most pop­u­lar prod­ucts are shrimp paste and Viet­namese pork roll – which is a bit like a sausage.

He added: “English cus­tomers who vis­ited Viet­nam like to buy the Viet­namese cof­fee. We have a cafe at­tached to the store. It was prob­a­bly one of the first places in Manch­ester to sell banh mi (a Viet­namese baguette).”

Diep said he thinks the HN Nails and Beauty Sup­plies shop next door also brings a lot of foot­fall, with cus­tomers then opt­ing to do their food shop­ping in the area.

An­other trader in the area

sup­ported by peo­ple liv­ing in nearby new flats is Mango Lo­gis­tics. The shop ships parcels to China and also helps in­ter­na­tional stu­dents com­ing to Manch­ester Univer­sity trans­port their lug­gage. A lot of these stu­dents live in the sur­round­ing new-build flats. The busi­ness is run by Joanna Yang, 38, who is orig­i­nally from China but moved to the UK to study 15 years ago. She said a lot of Chi­nese peo­ple in Manch­ester use the ser­vice to ship over baby prod­ucts they buy in bulk over here.

Joanna said: “I think this street is see­ing more and more busi­nesses come here, there are a lot of Chi­nese so­ci­eties based here. It is be­cause of the Wing Yip Su­per­mar­ket. Peo­ple come to this area to buy food. It is a lit­tle sec­ond China Town.”

She added: “A lot of Chi­nese peo­ple don’t drive. Peo­ple live in flats around here rather than a house fur­ther away, as well as the in­ter­na­tional stu­dents who live in flats.”

She has two full-time mem­bers of staff work­ing for her, as well as a num­ber of part-time work­ers who are univer­sity stu­dents.

To­wards the north Manch­ester end of the pa­rade of shops sits Sim­ply Viet, a Viet­namese cafe which has been open for a year-and-a-half. It is owned by Anh Trieu, who has been work­ing in the food in­dus­try for many years.

She moved to the UK in 1983 with her par­ents from the Lang Son area, fol­low­ing the Viet­namese War and dur­ing a time of po­lit­i­cal up­heaval. She ini­tially lived in London, but moved to Manch­ester to set up her busi­ness.

Trieu, who lives near to the cafe, ex­plained why she moved to the area: “It is be­cause of the Viet­namese store and Wing Yip, and the nail sa­lon has a lot to do with it too. We get a mix­ture of English and Chi­nese peo­ple com­ing here.”

As we’re talk­ing Trieu in­sists on serv­ing me a bowl of pho, the cafe’s most pop­u­lar dish, which comes served in a bucket-sized bowl with flat noo­dles and a huge plate of fresh herbs to add to dish.

In the back a chef is work­ing while de­liv­er­ies come in from Uber Eats and De­liv­eroo.

Out­side the win­dow, sky-high cranes can be seen work­ing on new apart­ment blocks as An­coats con­tin­ues to un­dergo rapid re­de­vel­op­ment. How­ever, Trieu says it is not re­ally con­cern­ing to busi­nesses here as more peo­ple can only mean more trade.

And she hopes that – as the cafe is just a few hun­dred yards from the bustling city cen­tre – cu­ri­ous vis­i­tors might find them­selves sur­pris­ingly at home, par­tic­u­larly if they have ever vis­ited Viet­nam.

She adds: “Ev­ery new busi­ness has strug­gles, but we get good feed­back. Peo­ple say our food is the real taste of Viet­nam.”

Chi Luong Diep

Joanna Yang and Ziyu Ma


The Wing Yip store in Old­ham Road, An­coats

The Viet­namese Store

Lan­terns at Sim­ply Viet Cafe

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