My youngest child and I took time two years ago to visit different ethnic grocers — Indian, Russian, and Oriental food stores. We didn’t make it to the Arabic stores, but I’ve passed them when she isn’t with me. I recently took her to the Robert Ray Asian Garden and the New Oriental Food Store, both east of the Des Moines River. She enjoyed both. We recommend visiting if you’re up for a mini adventure.
The first thing “I” of GAIN saw when we started shopping — I was searching for rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce, and soy sauce — was this oxymoronic bottle of “Humble” and “superior” soy sauce. Of course we couldn’t buy something that looked hypocritical, so we bought a large bottle of the good old standard Kikkoman.
I failed to find rice wine vinegar — I think the recipe has a typo. I can find rice wine and rice vinegar, but no rice wine vinegar. Maybe the recipe means to say rice wine OR vinegar — and I’ve used both with no complaints from the peanut gallery. Isn’t bad wine just vinegar?
And the hoisin sauce had to be a particular brand at my husband‘s request. No dice. Unrelated tip: If you visit New Oriental, you’ll want to know that the permitted and metered lot just west of it has three or four spots for customers. I want to say #17 – 19 are for shoppers.
We finished the sauce aisles and went back to the produce coolers. I swear I had a photo of the transparent beverage containers but I can’t find it now. Think about a can of soda. That you can see through like glass. But the top of the can is definitely aluminum. Mind blowing.
The tea aisle was also mind blowing. As in large.
While you shop, you also pass many DVD and listen to music that the owners like. There are a few prepared ready to eat goods, too.
This is a fun area of the store — Frozen foods. The whole frogs were really large. We didn’t see any whole frozen ducks this time.
We left the store with the BEST fruit pops ever. I want to say they were from Florida and had only four or five ingredients. Remember to open them from the stick end of the wrapper. The first ingredients were the fruit followed by the fruit puree. LOVED IT!
If you visit, be sure to purchase something. A dozen eggs or a bottle of water or Pocky — these stores are small family businesses. One of the gals said that she wanted us to buy more! We left with soy sauce, coconut oil (now in plastic rather than glass jars), rice vermicelli, and fruit pops.