Mangal Bazar (Delhi, December 2018)


In Minnesota, in Montreal, in London, in Hong Kong I’ve taken pictures of green markets and posted them in slideshows on the blog. But though I’d been back home to Delhi three times between starting the blog and my most recent trip in December, I had not done the same from there. In some places you’re a traveler and in some places you’re just at home. Going to the market when I’m back home is no more remarkable an affair than going to Cub Foods here. But on this trip, perhaps because I’d made two market reports from Hong Kong, I took my camera with me on a visit to the weekly haat (or open-air market) by my parents’ neighbourhood of Sector 25, NOIDA (a suburb of Delhi). Here are most of the photos I took. Continue reading

Duke of York’s Square Market (London, June 2018)


Okay, here it is finally: the last report from our London trip in June. Yes, almost exactly nine months ago. We spent 10 days in London after a week in Scotland; it was mostly a nostalgia trip. We spent three months there as a family in the spring of 2017 and loved it to the point of fantasizing about ways to move there, either now or in retirement (there are no such ways). We particularly loved being there with our kids—with wonderful parks and free museums and a wide range of food, London is really a wonderful place to visit with children. And so we’d hoped we’d be able to go back with them. We didn’t expect, however, that it would happen as soon as it did. But a conference in Edinburgh that we could both attend presented itself and we decided to splurge and take the boys with us and add on extra days in the north of Scotland and in London. They’re still so young that they’re unlikely to remember their longer time in London clearly without added reinforcement; and with work paying for airfare it was doable without too much of a wrench. Continue reading

Mantra Bazaar (Apple Valley, MN)


We enjoyed our dinner at Darbar India Grill in Apple Valley fine a week ago but far more exciting than that dinner—well, other than the drive up and back through foggy roads—was the discovery of Mantra Bazaar, an Indian grocery located a few doors down, both in the massive shopping complex alongside County Road 42 between Cedar Avenue and Pennock. This is exciting because this is now the closest Indian grocery to us and because it stocks all the essentials I need for cooking; thus making it a viable option to the much larger TBS Mart in Bloomington, which is 10-15 minutes further away, which is even more significant in bad weather—which as you may have heard, we get some of in Minnesota. I stopped in after our dinner last week to buy a few staples and check them out; and I went back again today for a larger grocery run in the wake of last week’s snowcalypse. And I took the opportunity to take some pictures so I could add them to my survey of grocery stores in the Twin Cities metro that serve immigrant populations.  Continue reading

Seafood and More at Sai Ying Pun Market (Hong Kong, 2018)


As I’ve mentioned before, I really enjoy walking around food markets in cities I’m visiting. Whether in Montreal, London or even St. Paul, if there’s a big produce market and I have time to visit it, I am there. Of course, Hong Kong is the ideal city for one with such preferences. I’ve already posted a couple of reports from the Graham Street wet market, located fortuitously right next to my hotel. Today I have a report from a covered market (well, two actually) about a 20 minute walk away: mostly from the Sai Ying Pun Market and a bit from the Centre Street Market. My interest in the former stemmed from having read about its seafood section and that is what this report is heavy on. The vegetarians should console themselves with the pictures of vegetables that start the slideshow and those of tofu etc. from Centre Street Market. Or just go back and look at the post on roadside fruit and vegContinue reading

Roadside Fruit and Veg in Hong Kong (December 2018)


On Sunday I posted a slideshow of images taken on walks around my hotel on my first day in Hong Kong. This may have led you to believe that there would be a separate report for every day after that as well. But when not in meetings, I’ve spent most of my time walking around the city and taking photographs rather than posting them to the blog. But as they pile up in my folders I remember that I’m not yet done posting reports on my trip to Scotland in the summer; and so faced with the prospect of reporting on this trip for the next two years, I’m going to try to speed it up a bit. Accordingly, here is a slideshow of pictures of fruit and veg taken at roadside markets and stalls. Hopefully this will mollify the vegetarians among my readers who may have found the meat pictures in the previous Hong Kong post to be a bit much.  Continue reading

Midtown Global Market (Minneapolis)


The Midtown Global Market was the first place I ever ate at in Minnesota. This was a little less than a year before we moved to Minnesota, and just a few months after it opened in May, 2006. I was visiting St. Paul on work and my friend Mike and I drove over to check it out. I got some wonderful octopus tacos from La Sirena Gorda and Mike got tacos from Los Ocampo’s counter, if I remember correctly. It was a vibrant, fun space and it made an impression on me that was quite different from the image of Minnesota I’d put together from my years in the western US. (This impression was bolstered later that weekend at a meal at Saigon in St. Paul.) A few months later we had to decide whether to remain in Colorado or make a jump to Minnesota, and this impression of a culturally diverse Minnesota helped make up our minds—it also probably didn’t hurt that it was very warm in the Twin Cities during my visit in early November, 2006.

Well, November isn’t always warm here, and La Sirena Gorda, alas, is long gone—as are some of our other early favourites there—but the Midtown Market is still going strong, with new food outlets and merchants who are excellent in their own right; indeed, it seems very entrenched now in the local scene. Here is a quick look at it for the benefit of those who have somehow never been, or have not been in a while. Continue reading

Hong Kong, Day 1 (December 2018)


After an exhausting day of travel that included flight delays and damaged baggage before I even got on my 15 hour flight from LAX, I finally arrived at Hong Kong on Saturday morning, feeling a bit like damaged goods myself. And extra surly as—unlike in 2016—I’m here by myself this time; and unlike some people, I do not like traveling alone.

I was greeted by a massive, snaking line at immigration but it moved surprisingly quickly. Emerging with my suitcase (thankfully not beat up further), I made a beeline for Crystal Jade and applied some excellent dumplings to my exhaustion. Then aboard the Airport Express train to Hong Kong Station and a quick cab ride to my friend’s home up in the Mid-Levels, to wait out the time till my check-in at the hotel. Drank some masala chai, called my hotel—who were kind enough to give me an early check-in—and cabbed down to Central, to Wellington St. It was lunch time and so setting my bags down, I ventured forth.  Continue reading

Holy Land Market (Minneapolis)


Holy Land, located on Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis, is a Twin Cities institution. It is not only one of the most iconic immigrant markets in the area, it is one of the most iconic markets period. When I began my series of posts on immigrant markets I didn’t think I would ever profile a place like Holy Land because, after all, anyone interested in finding out more about these markets wouldn’t need to be told about Holy Land. But then in the last few weeks I had conversations with a number of people who’ve lived here longer than we have and who’d never been to Holy Land. In the hope therefore of reducing by even a little the numbers of the sorry people of whom this is true, here is an extensive look at what you can find in Holy Land and why you should go shop there this weekend.  Continue reading

Viet Hoa Lao (Eagan, MN)


We lunched yesterday at Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill in Eagan (writeup coming in a week or two). On the way out of the strip mall we noticed a sign for the Viet Hoa Lao market and decided to stop in and and see if they had one of the brands of white rice we like. They were out but I took the opportunity to take a look around the market for future reference. There used to be another Vietnamese grocery in the area—very close to The Cellars, a liquor store I used to stop in at (which seems to have turned into Atomic Liquors at some point*)—but it moved further west to Burnsville. The presence of another viable market where we could pick up rice and Asian vegetables and coconut milk and fruit and so forth without having to go very far from the highway would be a good thing. I am glad to report that Viet Hoa Lao fits the bill.  Continue reading

Lekali Pasal: A Nepali Store in the Hmongtown Marketplace (St. Paul. MN)


I happened upon Lekali Pasal in mid-May, the last time I was at Hmongtown Marketplace and have been meaning to write it up briefly ever since. Well, better late than never. I didn’t actually go looking for it. I had a friend in town from Bombay and took her to Hmongtown Marketplace. While wandering the outdoor market, vaguely South Asian signage caught our eyes and when we investigated it turned out to be a Nepali store. Now it’s true I hadn’t been to Hmongtown Marketplace for a few years but I think this place is relatively new. At least I’d like to believe that I’d otherwise have noticed it. Anyway, here’s what you can find there.  Continue reading

Hana Market (Bloomington, MN)


Korean food does not have a very high profile in Minnesota. This is not because there are very few Koreans in Minnesota. As of the 2010 census, the numbers were not so far below the Vietnamese and the Twin Cities are dotted with Vietnamese restaurants. On the other hand, in the metro area there are very few Korean restaurants worth comment. This is probably down to the fact that despite decades of immigration, Korean food remains on the fringes of mainstream American consciousness—well behind Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian and even Vietnamese. Unless you’re in Los Angeles or New York or the Bay Area, you’re not going to come across a concentrated Korean population with an ecosystem of restaurants catering to in-culture diners; and for whatever reason, awareness of Korean food remains low elsewhere in the US among those who don’t habitually eat outside their own cultural comfort zone. So it is in Minnesota, even though the number of families here with Korean connections via adoption is quite high relative to most of the USContinue reading

TBS Mart International Foods (Richfield, MN)


Continuing with my series on markets that serve Minnesota’s more recent immigrant communities, here is a quick look at a store with a name both innocuous and misleading: TBS Mart International Foods, which is in fact an Indian grocery, and my go-to Indian grocery in the south metro at that. It is located right off the 494: going west from the 35 you get off at Portland, turn right, and it anchors the smaller strip mall on the right hand side of the road. Indeed, it is one of three Indian food-related businesses there: there are also two Indian restaurants—Kabob’s Indian Grill and India Cafe (as yet unexamined by me). But first, a bit of context.  Continue reading

Shuang Hur (St. Paul, MN)


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.  Continue reading

Andale Mercado (Richfield, MN)


I posted a review on Tuesday of a recent lunch at Andale Taqueria in Richfield. We enjoyed that meal very much. We also enjoyed browsing their neighbouring mercado/grocery store after lunch. I’d originally planned to report on both simultaneously, but for the sake of my sanity, decided to break it into two separate posts (resizing photographs is no fun). I’m not sure if the mercado or the taqueria came first for the proprietors of Andale—if you know more about this, please write in below—but they’re an excellent 1-2 punch. Indeed, the market is a good alternative to the restaurant for heartier food to go. Continue reading