Author Topic: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al  (Read 5370 times)

Mr Mark

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great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« on: January 16, 2013, 03:08:44 PM »
We've just discovered a huge Asian supermarket in our city - albeit a 20 min car ride away and naturally a slightly dodgy area.

Was blown away by the great variety of vegetables, and seafood all at really good prices. Snails!

The mushrooms were also wonderful and very cheap.

I think people often overlook the minority speciality stores, like halal butchers, who usually are serving a lower income and more frugal crowd.

Another Reader

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2013, 03:23:01 PM »
I dunno, the rotten fish smell at a couple of the ones in San Jose is overpowering....

Some are pretty good, though.  You can get pretty much whatever ethnic cooking ingredients you want around here.  Lots of small Indian markets locally.  Vietnamese bakeries and sandwich shops.  Full scale Chinese and Mexican supermarkets.  To compete, the larger chains carry some of the produce sold in the Asian markets and pay closer attention to freshness in both fish and produce.  The Safeway on El Camino in Sunnyvale (across from Sprouts) has fish that is actually edible for example.  It won't sell to the customer base there otherwise.  The farmers' markets also bring in Asian produce.

sheepstache

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2013, 03:32:53 PM »
I also find they have superior tupperware. 

Actually superior kitchen implements in general.  I mean, if you are like me and consider the quality of OXO a bit overkill.

zoltani

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2013, 06:14:27 PM »
When i share my love of asian grocery stores with other people they often are skeptical. 

"Where does it come from though?"
"I bet it has more pesticides"
"It smells bad"

Probably why there is a lack of white people in the stores.

Whatever, they can keep paying $1.20/LB for onions, i will go enjoy them for $0.49/LB.

Fuyu

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2013, 06:31:01 PM »
Lol. Interesting to see another view. I never understood why people would go to Stop n Shop and pay ridiculously overpriced food until now. Even though its a little gross, I do like that in Chinatown you can get fish that's alive until you buy them.

TLV

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2013, 06:35:29 PM »
Ethnic markets are great, but in my experience restaurant supply stores are even better. $2 for 10 lbs of onions, $3 for 15 lbs of red potatoes, $5-10 for a pound or so of any given spice, etc.

And they don't smell bad either.

twinge

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2013, 06:31:01 AM »
We're long-time shoppers at Asian markets.  My approach is that I get produce that typically doesn't have a high pesticide load there and grow and preserve or buy organic elsewhere (or skip altogether) produce that has a high pesticide load (using the "Dirty Dozen" guide) .  It's also a great place to get huge bags of rice.  Ours sells organic brown rice.

Actually in the past year I've been having more mixed results with the produce going bad more quickly (e.g., buying a lovely-looking package of enoki mushrooms and then finding mold in the bottom etc.) so I don't know what's going on.  We never had a problem before.  And this is in BOTH of the large-style markets we go to (depending on which side of town we happen to be on).

sheepstache

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2013, 01:47:59 PM »
Some of the non-perishables are a really good deal too.  Sesame oil, bulk tea, seaweed, etc.

Mr Mark

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2013, 02:14:44 PM »
40 chopsticks for $0.99!

Sylly

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2013, 02:56:07 PM »
Actually in the past year I've been having more mixed results with the produce going bad more quickly (e.g., buying a lovely-looking package of enoki mushrooms and then finding mold in the bottom etc.) so I don't know what's going on.  We never had a problem before.

My experience has always been that the produce can be (quite) a bit less pristine than regular grocery chains. Not saying all the produce is like that, but I've been to the local chinese market where I couldn't find a single decent red onion, for example. I've also picked through packages of oyster mushrooms where some had visible mold at the store (not that this kind of thing is exclusive to Asian markets..seen moldy raspberries Sprouts, too). Yet I've had perfectly good experience on other produce too. I'm guessing it just depends on what kind of supply they have.

IMO, the less pristine produce is generally fine if you're going to cook it immediately and don't mind cutting out the bad parts. I'm not sure if it's just my imagination, but it seems to me that when part of the produce is already spoiled, the whole thing spoils quicker. It becomes a problem when I don't use it until 2-3 days later. So for common produce I tend to stick to regular grocery chains, and for the more Asian produce, I try to buy it no more than 1-2 days before I *know* I will use it.

But the ethnic stores are definitely the place to go when you need products that would fall into the ethnic isle in your local grocery chain. Generally better selection and better prices.

savingtofreedom

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2013, 09:37:56 PM »
After face punching myself for spending $34 on an ok Thai meal for two I headed down the street a couple miles to our local Asian supermarket with a couple of Thai recipes and determination to finally learn how to make some common Thai dishes.  Stocked up on multiple varieties of soy sauce, oyster sauce for cheap and beautiful bok choy, thai peppers, Thai Basil and some other yummy options.   Can't find these things elsewhere and if you do they are way overpriced.   This particular location used to be pretty raunchy but has improved with more local competition.  So make sure to check back at yours as they may get better over time. 

Next on the list to try is green papaya salad - can't wait.

c

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2013, 10:06:00 PM »
When i share my love of asian grocery stores with other people they often are skeptical. 

"Where does it come from though?"
"I bet it has more pesticides"
"It smells bad"

Probably why there is a lack of white people in the stores.

Whatever, they can keep paying $1.20/LB for onions, i will go enjoy them for $0.49/LB.

I shop at a lot of "ethnic" stores and, in my experience, I do have to be careful with what I buy. While they're great for things that are sold as specialty items in more mainstream stores, the quality isn't there for for, ironically, the more mainstream items.

One of the things I noticed about living in the US is that people here like their fruit and veg unripe - pears are rock hard, bananas are green etc. I know that ripe fruit is hard to transport, so people have probably become conditioned to this "quality" but it's not tasty.

Also, if you like lamb or mutton, Halal butchers are great. It still surprises me that I have to go to either the speciality or Halal butcher to get what was the cheap option for most of my life.


amyable

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2013, 06:20:14 AM »
I sometimes shop at a Texas-wide Mexican grocery chain.  I actually find their produce is nicer than my local grocery stores.  We have a CSA membership, but I really like avocados (5 for $1--what?), mangos, etc.  I tend to stick to the produce section, but their meat is also really decent.   Pero las cajeras no hablan mucho InglÚs.  :-)

Gerard

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2013, 07:11:13 AM »
In Toronto, I buy about half my food at large independent Asian supermarkets. My favourite, BestWin, is awesome/cheap for meat, and cheap for almost everything else (produce, rice, bread, legumes, atta). There are also a lot of entertaining snack foods, but they're as fake and fatty as anywhere else.
I concur with other posters in a couple of respects:
*Such stores are not great for non-Asian stuff. Buy your muffins and tortillas elsewhere.
*The produce has a shorter shelf life. The owners are almost certainly buying marked-down stuff at wholesalers. They expect customers to know how to deal with produce problems, i.e., don't keep those dodgy red peppers in the fridge for a week.
To optimize shopping at these places:
*Buy staples in large sizes. Maybe repackage them in bins. And consider adjusting your dinner menus for the month to get through them.
*Deal with produce quickly. Either use it up fast, or treat it to last longer. For red peppers, for example, which are WAY cheaper in these stores, I roast and peel them the day I buy them, then refrigerate or freeze them. Or use them to make a huge batch of sambal or salsa. My next step is to start making (separate) purees of ginger, garlic, cooked onions, and peppers, to keep in the freezer for really fast Indian meals.

c

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2013, 08:35:36 AM »
I just got back from Patel Bros (eating spicy madras mix as I type), we hired a car last night to stake out a cemetery to help a friend look for her dog and went back super early this morning for more of the same, turns out Patel Bros was really close. We must have got there as it opened as we were the only non-staff people in the store for the first 20 minutes.

Wow, that place is cheap! If I had more space I would definitely have stocked up. Bought a ton of spices, various dried lentils, paneer and some frozen stuff - spinach, some vegetables I've never tried before.

It's obviously not worth hiring a car just to go there, but we could do it on the subway. Next time I'll make a proper list. I also bought some Ghee, but made sure to get the smallest one they had as I tend to go a bit mad with that stuff.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 01:47:18 PM by c »

Mr Mark

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2013, 08:55:06 AM »
I sometimes shop at a Texas-wide Mexican grocery chain.  I actually find their produce is nicer than my local grocery stores.  We have a CSA membership, but I really like avocados (5 for $1--what?), mangos, etc.  I tend to stick to the produce section, but their meat is also really decent.   Pero las cajeras no hablan mucho InglÚs.  :-)

Yep. Killer deals on cilantro, avocado, .... It s the power of the market!

Miss Stachio

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2013, 02:38:44 PM »
Wow, that place is cheap! If I had more space I would definitely have stocked up. Bought a ton of spices, various dried lentils, paneer and some frozen stuff - spinach, some vegetables I've never tried before.

Just recently found the Indian and Mexican grocery stores nearby my town.  They are awesome for spices, random powders (like arrowroot) and beans that would be super pricey at normal or health food stores.  When I go to the asian grocer, I usually stock up on coconut milk powder for baking.

Welmoed

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Re: great stuff at 'asian' groceries, et al
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2013, 07:51:06 PM »
Freshness is certainly an issue in our local Korean market. However, the thing to keep in mind is that, at least as I understand it, Koreans are in the habit of shopping nearly every day, for that day's meal, so they plan to cook whatever they buy within the coming 24 hours. We shop there for great prices on fish and meats, plus a huge assortment of veggies, and, of course, about 300 different types of soy sauce.