Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday in Chinatown

Prior to my move to Halifax I lived in Victoria for eight years.  I grew up in Nanaimo, a mere 1.5 hours away.  I have been back in town for over 7 months.  And somehow this is only the second time I have ever grocery shopped in Chinatown!  (The last time being about six years ago when my boyfriend at the time was a chef who could not believe I’d never had Dim Sum.  For the record I’ve still never been out to a restaurant for Dim Sum.)


After taking Heidi Fink’s Thai Food at Home class I knew I had to follow her lead and do my ingredient shopping in Chinatown.  Sure, most of the ingredients can be found in regular grocery stores…but not everything, and a lot of things are far more reasonably priced in the Chinese stores.


I parked near by, stopped at Habit for a delicious latte, then wandered over to Tai Sang (right next to Brasserie L’ecole on Government Street). 


Tai Sang is a small (smelly!) store crammed with all kinds of awesome and crazy Asian grocery goods.  I started outside with the produce (where I found red peppers for $1.39/pound!!), then made my way inside to find the other items on my list.


There was only one other customer in the store which made it even more fun to browse the aisles trying to figure out what everything was.


I thought I would have trouble finding things but it was actually super easy to pick out palm sugar, Sambal Oelek, and the right rice noodles.  There were three things on my list I couldn’t find but I wanted to visit other stores anyway so no big deal.


I paid for my loot and was on my way across the street onto Fisgard Street.


My next stop was Fisgard Market…a larger, much busier store.  I had a quick look at produce prices and saw some things the same price, some things more expensive, and some things cheaper than Tai Sang.  Still couldn’t find fresh mint though.


Inside the store I easily found the small jar of Hoisin sauce I was looking for, but not before I enjoyed myself checking out all of the interesting and sometimes weird Asian snack foods.  Octopus chips?  Um, ew. 


I did pick up a bag of way-delicious Shrimp Crackers.  Everyone always cringes when I buy these (not often, but often enough)…but if you like shrimp they are really quite tasty!


I left the store and wandered in and out of a few more shops just browsing dishes and fun little ornaments and such, but eventually my grocery bag weighed heavy on my arm and I decided I should bring my perishables home.


I spent less than $20 on all of this!!


The best deals were definitely the red pepper, kiwis, cilantro, Goji berries, and the sauces.  I couldn’t even find a small jar of Sambal Oelek at my regular supermarket and the Hoisin was whole dollar less. Overall I found everything I bought in Chinatown today was cheaper than the grocery store I visited to pick up the rest of my week’s groceries.

Depending on my meal plans in the future I can see Sunday trips to Chinatown becoming a regular event.  Even if next time it’s just to get one of those yummy looking BBQ buns from the bakery!!


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Anonymous said...

Great post. I love the Fisgard Market. I buy may ploy curry paste there for my restaurant. It is all natural and tastes great...exactly the same as the stuff in thai markets sold in enormous barrels. Nice blog.

Corinne said...

Octopus flavored chips? I guess you can't knock it until you try it but I don't think I would ever be brave enough to try those!

Meaghan said...

Haha I love the little cartoon octopus on the chips! :P Definitely wouldn't be brave enough to try them though. Maybe the shrimp ones but that's if I'm feeling exceptionally brave that day. Your pictures make me miss Victoria so much! I may or may not have a cheesy touristy picture of my under that big gate thing

Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit said...

Dammit! Now I'm craving octopus-flavored chips! Thanks for nothing!

GLOSS SPOT! said...

OMG i am obsessed with Chinese food and Thai and basically everything Asian!!

You MUST try dim sum Hong Kong style, where they push the trolleys around the restaurant and you pick what looks good to you. Best way to do it!

Your thai food turned out really nicely!