g e t t i n g d o w n
c h i n a t o w n
One of the things I’m most grateful for about living in the city is my close proximity to the Adelaide Central Market. I’ve written about my undying love for the markets previously so no need to rehash the past, but if we want to summarise – I bloody love the place and one of my favourite aspects is the abundance of Asian grocers in and around it.
I’ve always enjoyed visiting Asian grocers for the plethora of weird and wonderful produce. I love wandering the aisles and checking out the unfamiliar. I love the challenge of trying to figure out the mystery of what a particular, bizarre looking item may be without the aid of an English translation.
Aside from the fun factor I experience, one of the beneficial things for me and my lifestyle is how cheap Asian grocers are. Once you see the price of fresh herbs and greens in comparison to mainstream supermarkets, you’ll go through the same unease and sense of monetary yuckiness I do on a regular basis.
Living alone and cooking for one can sometimes be a challenge. I generally fluctuate between making huge batches of carb-heavy meals like risotto and pasta and filling up my freezer with single servings for leftovers. Or, on the flipside, I’ll end up spending far too much money on the ingredients for one single meal.
Another issue I deal with frequently is wasting and spoiling fresh food because I buy too much of it and I don’t eat it in time. I plan to cook a lot of the time but plans change, social occasions pop up or more often than not, I’ll be a block from home, smell Gouger Street and involuntarily find myself eating out instead.
Sure, one way to help with the reoccurring dilemma in my life would be to plan better (Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance and all that business). But honestly, I’m a sucker for spontaneity and a long time sufferer of an affliction called FOMO (see Urban Dictionary), so although it’s not an ideal scenario for everyone, I usually choose to do a daily food shop, as oppose to a larger weekly one.
To help me with this obstacle, I cook a lot with ingredients from Asian grocers and I have four particular favourites in the Central Market and Chinatown. Kuo Chi Oriental Supermarket and Hong Kong Grocery on Moonta Lane, Kim Wang Supermarket and Specialist Asian Greengrocer inside the markets.
In my opinion, each of the above have different yet equally enticing attributes, so my goal here is to break them down so you too can enjoy the adventure.
KUO CHI ORIENTAL SUPERMARKET
This is one of the larger grocers in Chinatown. One of the best things is the tasty BBQ pork you can buy by the kilo, as well as really cheap spices, a great selection of fresh vegetables, herbs and well priced pantry fillers. Oh and they sell frozen shallot pancakes, who needs to line up at Ying Chow when you can cook them at home?!
HONG KONG GROCERY
The big one here for me is that they’re open ’til 8pm 7 days a week. This means it’s probably my most highly frequented shop between the lot as an easy stop off on my way home from work. Some of the best things about this spot is their huge selection of 2 minute, Mee Goreng-esque noodles, frozen dumplings and THEY SELL BEER! They’re also my go to when I want the ingredients to try my hand at a homemade BBC.
KIM WANG SUPERMARKET
This is an oldie but a goodie. Located right between the main markets and the food courts, they offer a large fresh butchery section of predominantly pork products, a huge range of dry goods to purchase by weight as well as an awesome selection of crockery and kitchenware. Need a $4 knife that will slice your finger off? Go no further.
SPECIALIST ASIAN GREENGROCER
Small but significant, the best spot for your fresh Asian veggies and herbs. Situated right next door to old mate Asian Gourmet, Specialist Asian Greengrocer has the best bargain going around – a generous bag of shredded papaya and carrot for a measly $2.50. Get in early ‘cos they only get twenty odd bags a day and these babies go quickly. If you miss out, be sure to fill your market trolley with super cheap and bulk vegetables, it’s a one stop shop. And yes, you read right – that’s a huge avocado for $1.50!
So to prove my point, here are some examples of home-cooked meals I made up with ingredients solely purchased from the locations above, and both meals costing under $15 dollars for the lot. Curtis Stone, eat your heart out.
‘Japanese Style’ Panko Crumbed Fried Pickles with Black Sesame Kewpie Mayo
Batter, crumb and shallow fry Polski Ogorki pickles as per normal methods. Grab a decent blob of Kewpie mayo, add a little drizzle of sesame oil and some toasted black sesame seeds, whip it all up and serve. ‘Fusion’ they call it right?
Roast Pork Belly ‘Vietnamese Style’ Green Papaya Salad
Score and salt pork belly, oven bake ’til you get that crunchy crackling goodness. Throw together a salad of shredded papaya and carrot (see above), cucumber cut into thin ribbons, thinly sliced spring onion, and stacks of fresh mint and coriander. Make a dressing out of sweet chilli sauce, lime juice and fish sauce, alternating the three to balance the salty, sweet and sour to your liking. Pile the pork cut into small chunks on top of the salad, add chopped peanuts, fried shallots and drizzle the dressing. Done.
Although I have based this piece on grocers within Chinatown and the markets, there are plenty throughout the suburbs so get out and support your locals too.
Whether you’re looking to create a Golden Boy experience in your own home, or just need a uni semesters worth of Mee Goreng noodles to get you by these are the places you need to go.