‘Once they try it, they’re converted’: the hidden Filipino cafe tucked away in a Greater Manchester market

It’s a quiet afternoon in Ashton Market Hall. A handful of shoppers stroll along the network of stalls, picking up supplies and stopping to chat with traders.

Briggs Family Butchers is selling the last of the day’s stock, Williams Deli is taking orders for artisan cakes and oven-based muffins and a number of independent food outlets are handing out their last lunch orders.

In the far corner of the inner market it feels as if something resembling a village square has emerged. Flanked by Persian Meals on one side and Nat’s Bombay Kitchen, sits Tarp’s Filipino Fusion Food, a family-run restaurant that has won the Ashton’s Independent Food Award two years in a row.

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Under a canopy of colorful planters, hanging baskets and fairy lights, a simple arrangement of tables and chairs leads to a small kitchen, where Tarp’s owner Carl is busy preparing orders. He has been running the concession with his parents Mel and Ronnie for about five years.

Tarps can be found in Ashton Market(Image: Sean Hansford | Manchester Evening News)

Although the market may be quiet, there is a gentle hum from the kitchens, including Tarp’s, as pots and pans jostle to sit on the small hotplates, ingredients are chopped and boxes packed with piping hot food spill over the counter are handed over.

It’s a familiar sound for Carl and his family, for whom cooking has always played a leading role in their lives.

“When I was young, I woke up to the sound of banging woks, clattering plates and cutlery, people shouting or chatting in the kitchen,” says Carl, who has stepped away from the stall for five minutes, leaving his parents in the grip . the fort.