My recipe post this week was two days late. To make up for the heartbreak this undoubtedly caused you, here is a bonus post, a look at another of the large Asian groceries in the Twin Cities metro: Double Dragon Foods in St. Paul. It was brought to my attention by frequent commenter, steveinmn, in the comments on my look at Ha Tien Supermarket back in September. The name didn’t register then when he mentioned it but as we approached it this past week, I realized I’d passed it a couple of times on the way to Krungthep Thai, which is located just a hop, step and jump from the intersection of Rice and Maryland where Double Dragon occupies all of one large strip mall in the northeastern quadrant. It’s not the largest of the Asian groceries in St. Paul but it’s quite comprehensive and does have some things to recommend it over the larger outfits (such as Ha Tien and Dragon Star).
As steveinmn noted in his comment, Double Dragon is about the size of Shuang Hur on University Ave., perhaps a little larger. It is, however, brighter and a little less chaotic in its layout. It also has a large deli section where you can get a wide range of prepared foods if you’re so inclined. Unlike Shuang Hur, it carries a good deal of inventory aimed at non-East Asian or Southeast Asian shoppers. I was impressed by the range of their South Asian/Indian offerings, for instance; and they also had aisles that featured Burmese, Hispanic and African items. Their produce section is quite comprehensive, and while you can’t get curry leaves or vegetables specific to Indian kitchens, you can find things like fresh garbanzo beans in their pods there along with a pretty wide range of Asian fruits and vegetables.
I was struck by the fact that the packaged vegetables in the produce section all listed the country of origin. I don’t think I’ve seen that in the other major Asian stores in the metro (or maybe I haven’t noticed). So you can see that your Thai eggplant was grown in Honduras whereas the bitter melon was grown in the US. This foregrounding of sourcing extends to their extensive seafood/fish section, and that I’m pretty sure I have not seen that at any other Asian market (or at Cub Foods). There’s a sign that notes their commitment to sustainable seafood and says that they partner with fisheries that seek to reduce their environmental impact. I’m not sure what that means in practice but it was good to see the provenance of the seafood listed (for example, while the baby octopus is from farms in India, the large octopus is harvested wild in the Philippines). I didn’t note if every single seafood item noted provenance in this way but even if not, it’s an advance over most other markets. I would go back there just to get large head-on shrimp from Ecuador, secure in the knowledge that it’s not coming from one of the murkier shrimp industries in Southeast Asia.
On this occasion we restricted our purchases to vegetables, fruit and non-perishable items. It wasn’t a warm day per se when we were there but it was going to be several hours before we got home and we didn’t have a cooler with us. So the head-on shrimp and live blue crabs (and the pork uterus) will have to wait for another day. (On the plus side, this did mean I was able to resist the temptation to purchase a 40 lb case of golden pompano for $115.) But if you’re located closer to them than we are—and also have not been—you may find my truly excessive slideshow below to be of use.
Click on a picture to launch the slideshow. Scroll down to see what’s coming next.
So, what are the other major grocery stores aimed at immigrant clienteles that I should also report on? I know I have not yet posted a look at Pooja Groceries up in Hilltop (it’s been ages since I’ve been) or at Dong Yang (same reason). Before you ask, I’ve not yet visited the new Asian Mall in Eden Prairie. I don’t plan to go until it’s fully operational and has hit its stride. Unless that happens in December, the earliest I’ll get there will probably be in February (as we’ll be out of town for most of January). But are there other markets that you would say are worth a look? They don’t need to be large, just interesting.
In the meantime, I’ll have my usual complement of restaurant reviews on Tuesdays. This coming Tuesday will feature a look at the lunch buffet at an Indian restaurant whose profile seems to be rising in the metro.
I hadn’t noticed the provenance advantage of shopping at Double Dragon (maybe I just wasn’t in the store long enough). I’m glad you had a chance to visit. It sounds like it was worth the trip.
It was indeed.
Other markets you may like:
Kim’s on Snelling near minnehaha. Korean
Colonial on Nicollet between 27th and 26th. Mexican
I’ve already posted a look at Kim’s. Will put Colonial on the list.
Sun Foods, in the strip mall on the southeastern corner of Dale and University. Big store, formerly known as Foodsmart. I don’t recall it ever being anything elser but it’s about the size of an older Cub or Rainbow and the layout feels to me like it was a Rainbow at one point in its life. Just doesn’t seem like something purpose-built. Big produce section, large-ish meat/seafood counter. They used to have a Hmong cafeteria there. Last time I was in I didn’t have time to look hard but the ready-to-eat place had at least changed hands if not format.
And the Original Karen Market at 1377 Arcade (north of Johnson Senior High; it’s not the “Karen” place you’ve been to). I had not been in there before your Ha Tien posting but liked the idea of going to different ethnic groceries so I stopped by one day. Much smaller; looks like a convenience store that got a little remodeled. There’s a somewhat jumbled groceries section, a smaller produce area (what was there looked fresh), a long wall of cold ingredients, and a tiny kitchen in the back where they make takeaway meals and things like bubble tea. And very friendly staff. Might make a good stop combined with another visit in St. Paul. It’s quite small.
Good info as always. Ashama grocery and restaurant on University Ave in St Paul, is worth a visit if for nothing else the fresh breads coming from the bakery