I’ve posted a number of write-ups of outdoor and covered markets in Minnesota (Hmongtown Marketplace and Hmong Village), Montreal (Jean-Talon) and London (Borough Market). I’ll have more of these as the opportunity arises (there’ll be another from London soon enough). However, in 2018 I’ll have a far more regular series of write-ups of formal markets/grocery stores that cater to various immigrant communities in the Twin Cities metro area. I’ve already posted one of these—a quick look at Andale Mercado in Richfield. Here now is a look at the Shuang Hur mothership on University Avenue in St. Paul, one of the mainstays of the Southeast Asian scene. I’d call it a quick look—it’s light on text—but there are rather a lot of images. The main goal of this series of posts is to give people who’ve not shopped in these markets a decent sense of what’s available there and hopefully give them a reason or two to go. Hence the maximalist approach to images.
I hasten to add, however, that this should not be taken as a comprehensive look at what is available at Shuang Hur. These pictures were taken on the run with my cellphone, while dodging other shoppers, and there are many aisles and vegetables and fruits and meats often/always available that are not represented here. I think you’ll get a decent feel for the place anyway. Because I tried to stay out of the way of other shoppers and to not include them in the frame if I could help it, you won’t get a good sense of how lively the market can be, or of how it draws people from a wide range of immigrant communities. While the vegetable section skews heavily towards the needs of Southeast Asian shoppers, you can find nopales next to lemon grass. Indeed, Shuang Hur—many of whose employees are Hispanic—carries a fairly decent selection of Mexican spices and ingredients (better than at my local Cub Foods).
Unlike the celebrated United Noodles in Minneapolis, Shuang Hur does not have a restaurant attached (see my report of UniDeli)—though it does sell some prepared food. Its clientele, in general, includes far fewer white people. And they don’t really have much representation of Japanese or Korean or Indian foods and ingredients. It’s a much more chaotic store but it’s also a much larger store. This is most apparent in their vegetable, fish and meat sections. In each of these, there are far more things available than you’ll find at United Noodles. For us, the major draw here is the fish section. It’s hard to get whole head-on fish at most mainstream markets, and things like whole pompano, mackerel (various types), milkfish and head-on shrimp are just not available except at large Asian markets like this. United Noodles also carries some of these things but the selection at Shuang Hur is far superior. In the early summer they sometimes have live blue crab as well—this is the only live seafood I’ve purchased from here.
The meat section too is stocked with things you’ll not see at Cub Foods: tendon, oxtails (at very good prices), various kinds of tripe etc. If you like making pho at home, this is the place for you (they have lots of soup bones too); if you like making chicken stock, for that matter, you can get a large tray of chicken feet too. Turnover is brisk and we’ve never had complaints about the quality of any of the produce, seafood or meat (though oxtails are the only things we buy regularly here). And you won’t pay through the nose for anything here.
Launch the mega slideshow below to take a look and scroll down to see what’s coming up from the Minnesota food scene.
It should be clear from the foregoing that I am a big fan of Shuang Hur on University Ave. in St. Paul. However, I cannot say the same about their location on Lake St. in Minneapolis. I went in there one time not too long after arriving in Minnesota and never went back in again—it was dark and depressing and the fish section in particular did not inspire confidence. Things may have looked up since (assuming it is still in business), so if you’ve been recently, please let me know. Also let me know if there are other store in the genre, large or small, that I should visit.
Given how much we’ve eaten out in the UK on this trip (we return to Minnesota tomorrow), I don’t think we’ll be eating out much at all in July. Next up from the Minnesota food scene, therefore, will be another grocery store report, this time Indian.
A couple of ideas for you Chariman Mao,
1. Don’t buy head-on shrimp unless they’re swimming in a tank.
From the folks at https://www.seriouseats.com/2015/08/how-to-pick-shrimp-varieties-freshness-guide.html
That said, shrimp heads can also have negative effects on quality. As Kenji notes, “Shrimp heads contain powerful enzymes that start to break down shrimp flesh as soon as they die. Within hours, head-on shrimp will become noticeably mushier. Headless shrimp, on the other hand, have their heads removed before shipping, which means that their bodies retain their fresh, briny crunch. Unless you can get your shrimp live (a possibility if you live near a good Asian market), you’re better off going with the headless version.”
2. I agree with your assessment of Minneapolis’ Shuang Hur. The meat department is sad and the rest of the store is less inviting than the St. Paul location. That said, it’s about the most convenient option for asian veggies and groceries in that part of town. Given the current Minneapolis traffic nightmare, I’ll go there for groceries except meat/fish/poultry.
3. Have you been to Dragon Star? It’s on Minnehaha at Dale in Saint Paul. It’s huge. The organizing principles elude me. A person could, at one time, buy live frogs and turtles to take home and cook and eat (or keep as pets, if so inclined).
4. United Noodle. I like it because I can shop Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Phillipino or Malay ingredients. They have a pretty much unbeatable range of fresh refrigerated noodles, including Sun Noodles’ Ramen 2-packs and what seems like 100s of varieties of frozen pre-made dumplings.
5. Dong Yang. Best Korean grocery selection I’ve come across in the Twin Cities. And the deli in the back is serving really delicious korean food. Check the refrigerated foods section for house-made pickles of daikon and scallion and other delicious ban chan (sp?) ingredients.
P.S. I love the korean red-pepper flakes. I get them at Dong Yang or United Noodle, they come in a 500g package for like $4 and there are no seeds. Just delicous red-pepper flakes that are not too hot. One package lasts me the better part of a year.
Sorry, but that stuff about head-pn shrimp is wrong. Head-on shrimp is sold all over India and never swimming in a tank. The flavour and especially the texture of head-on shrimp is far superior. The former more so when the the head contains the delicious red roe.
Thanks for the list of stores.
Noone should ever listen to Serious Eats. They once had a “scientific test” that “proved” that everything chefs (or just home cooks) know about cooking meat is wrong. Such as – it’s not important to rest meat once cooked.