The Knackered Chef chats with Debbie Yap

In the spirit of staying true to my word I promised to write something every week championing the great town that is Herne Hill. There’s always something going on in this place from simple protests to the mighty Lambeth show and what a show it was, but what a shame the town is in the state of disrepair that it is. I’ve always maintained that  the first impressions of  Herne Hill leave something to be desired with boarded up shops and then the is the elephant in the room that is The Half Moon pub. It doesn’t take a lot to see why as residents we are increasingly angered at rising  rents for our shop keepers and greedy Landlords squeezing every penny from our struggling traders. I’m sure many can remember that little flood. I speak to shop keepers and they say they are still recovering from the effects of the flood. The Herne Hill Forum stands tall as your voice and it is important that you have your say! Your thoughts count and your actions mean change, as a community we have always stood together to fight against the might of the big and champion the small

It’s about fight isn’t it? We fight for the Half Moon and Just William, with the traders and shopkeepers fighting to keep their businesses running, we ask for change to help keep the streets clean and rally against crime and anti-social behaviour and often without knowing it we forget about those who are just as equally at risk, struggling shops and businesses further from the centre.

On the corner of Croxted road stands Umana Yana, translated means Meeting place of people in Guyanese and is a take-away restaurant bringing the Creole flavours of the Caribbean. run by the very charming and ever happy Debbie Yap. Now there’s a woman that can fight, she’s been there seven years and in that time she has had her fair share of dirt and muck thrown her way and despite all efforts she just gets back up and carries on like a prized fighter. You may have not noticed her business as it is obscured by mobile phone exchange boxes so as you drive past you see green boxes not the shop front. I asked how she feels about this and she holds back the tears and says trying to be diplomatic “I’m not very happy it has affected my business so much”. I see why as I look outside the view of the passing trade is non-existent, Yes I hear you say that having been in Herne Hill for so long then she would have amassed a larger following and yes that is true she has but like all businesses led by food they rely heavily on passing footfall to generate the income to service their faithful customers. Sitting on the corner of Croxted road standing alone is hard at the best of times adding those hideous exchange boxes is another, Debbie tells me that one of the boxes was erected with no planning permission, I expect this is that the companies are that big they can afford to pay the fine and then fight the objections as they bob along giving no regard  for the businesses they affect. How strange that if we were to do similar we’d end up in rather a lot of trouble. She tells me about windows being smashed and furniture being stolen, staff not turning up for work and the trouble she has from youths aggravating her whilst she tries to work.

Debbie made me some food while I was there and I have to say it’s really tasty, she spends time preparing the food from locally sourced ingredients and the roti’s are freshly made while you wait, its soul food worth the journey, Plenty of people had told me to visit her and I’m so glad that I did.

She has a great selection of freshly prepared foods and can sometimes be seen at the farmers market please give her a try and support her, like all of our businesses in Herne Hill they rely on us.

As we campaign for a library or saving a pub and as we support our businesses in the very centre of the town we have to remember that Herne Hill Stretches to Rosendale road, Milkwood Road, Herne Hill, and to the very top of Half Moon Lane there are Coffee shops, Dry Cleaners, fruit and Veg Shops, Hair dressers and Bike shops to mention just a few all of which I intend to visit over the coming months

294 Croxted Road Herne Hill London SE24 9DA

Umana Yana Roti  Take Away / Restaurant  Call: 020 8671 8227