Golden Pacific Market: a treasure trove

I love–and let me emphasize love–my local Asian grocery store. Since college, I have shopped at many: the 10th street store, Saraga, and the College Mall store in Bloomington, Indiana. Wang’s Oriental Food in Newark, Delaware. And now, here in Chicago, I have found this blissful paradise: Golden Pacific Market on Broadway Avenue, merely 2 El stops south of us.

It’s the best Asian grovery EVER. It’s large. It’s well lit.

Lemongrass, Thai basil, shiitake mushrooms, Chinese broccoli, galangal, Chinese cabbage, baby eggplant, Japanese eggplant, Thai red chilies . . . it’s enough to send me into a fit. A fit of Asian joy.

The employees (or maybe they are the owners?) speak English, and can help me find hard-to-locate ingredients. They accept credit/debit cards with no minimum charge. The aisles are wide enough for a cart. They have absolutely everything. When I go there, I’m in heaven.

The only less-than-heavenly part is climbing onto the Broadway bus with 6 bags of groceries that you can barely carry.

Yes, you will always leave with way more than what you planned on getting. But the red welts on your arms and hands will all be worth it as soon as you get home to your kitchen and can create the most fabulous dishes: Panang curry. Thai red curry. Pad See Ew. Delectable stirfries.

I went there a couple weekends ago to stock up on my basics, and ended up with a tablefull of stuff for a $58 total:

The prices are unbeatable: dark and light soy sauce, for about $2 per bottle.

Ok, the Wasabi peas were a spontaneous buy. But at $3 for a large, large tin, I couldn’t resist.

Have you ever tried them?

Pure green addiction.

These lime leaves will go into my Panang curry–I can’t wait.

Cheap ground pork for Ma Po Tofu.

Coconut cream (not to be confused with cream of coconut or creamed coconut) for a thick, wonderful Thai curry.

And of course, I couldn’t resist getting some new things to experiment with: glutinous rice (to make sticky rice). I’ve been adoring it from afar for way too long–it’s time to get down and dirty with that rice in my own kitchen.

Ginger syrup.

How helpful–the bottle informs me that it’s an ‘all time favourite.’

It is such an inspiration to come home with new ingredients–cheap ingredients–that you can experiment with to your heart’s content. I’ve been reading about Sriracha sauce for ages. It’s all over the blogging world, and now I’m going to try it myself.

These mushrooms are funky.

I bought four varieties to make some kind of delicious mushroom fry–crimini, shiitake, and white beech, as well as the weird little guys above, known as either “Enoki” or “the freak-shaped thingamagings.”

Though I must admit I’m afraid to ask the question that the above picture begs: what does it mean when a mushroom is described as ‘high tech’?

Maybe they are so high tech that we should start preparing our defenses against their carefully planned attack of the world, which will start in my very own refrigerator while I am sleeping tonight. I guess if I don’t show up with a post on Monday at 7am sharp, you can assume these mushrooms have something to do with it–in that case, please send a SWAT team at your earliest convenience.

And the pre-peeled garlic: yes. Yes, yes, yes. It makes me add 8 cloves where I would normally use 5. Peeling garlic is one of my banes. I always do it when my hands are kind of wet, the peels stick to my fingers, and I get extremely claustrophobic.

I knew I’d be hungry by the time I got home, so I also bought some instant soup with udon noodles. You prepare it just like ramen noodles, but it’s 50 times better.

As I boiled some water on the stove, I noticed that the stovetop was getting quite greasy.

“That’s disgusting!” I exclaimed. “Who’s responsible for this disgrace of a kitchen!?”

Then I realized that it was me. “Well,” I muttered, “it’s getting completely out of control. Someone had better clean up his or her act.”

I find it comforting to sermonize myself. It makes me feel very wise. Wise and prudent.

I chopped up part of a green onion for some fresh crunch. It was the perfect lunch: quick and satisfying.

Do any of you shop at your local Asian grocery stores? What are some of your recent ingredient finds?

Tuesday I will be posting a recipe for Pad See Ew, made from some of the lovely ingredients purchased: wide, flat rice noodles. Soy sauce. Garlic. Chinese broccoli. You don’t want to miss it.

In case you’re confused, the message of this post can be boiled down to the following: get your buns to your nearest Asian grocery and indulge your creative side.

And I’m sorry I just ordered your buns around–but try to remember that it’s for a higher good.

Have a great weekend everyone!

34 thoughts on “Golden Pacific Market: a treasure trove

  1. crnnoel

    Can’t wait to see that recipe – I’ve been craving Thai like crazy recently… :)
    And no, I haven’t shopped at an Asian grocer, but as I’m drooling over here, I think I’d better find one! Hopefully the closest one isn’t all the way in the city… (boston)

    Reply
  2. Mary Beth

    This most reminded me so much of my mom. She loves Asian grocery stores and always comes back with bags of the most random ingredients. She also loves the Mexican grocery stores and even the one African grocery store in Louisville.

    Reply
  3. Roger

    Hi Jeanna, how are you doing? I agree, those mushrooms are quite funghi, har har har. Back to asian grocery ingredients, Oh where to start?

    Pocky Sticks
    dried shredded squid
    Shrimp chips
    Anything you could do with hot pot: frozen fish balls, thinly sliced beef, sa cha sauce
    super supau (asian gatorade)
    kong xin cia – translates to hollow vegetable, the stems are actually hollow
    here’s a good recipe for that, really simple.
    http://www.tinyurbankitchen.com/2009/09/sauteed-hollow-heart-vegetable-with.html

    You should check out H-Mart.

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      Very funny–‘funghi’ mushrooms. Hahaha. I checked out the recipe you linked to, and it looks awesome. I love spinach, so I would probably love this veggie as well. Thanks!

      Reply
  4. Circe

    these look great, I should try cooking my own Asian food, I always just assume that I can’t and then go out and order it. Can’t wait to see the recipe

    Reply
  5. foongfest

    This is awesome. Asian grocery stores make me happy… Saraga was cool but here in Houston, I’ve been spoiled since there are plenty of huge ones (duh… Texas). In fact, they’re larger than most of the Krogers in the midwest. I like how the produce is tends to be cheaper too.

    Despite growing up in Asia, some of the stuff they have blow my mind away. The one I frequent has live fish, rabbit, more kinds of seaweed than I ever thought possible, parts of animals you don’t usually think of eating etc. My favorite thing to get at Asian markets is miso paste – great for soups and marinating meats.

    Oh, and I looove enoki. They’re one of my favorite mushrooms and they’re great in soups, and for pimpin’ up ramen and udon noodles. Kinda like this:
    http://wtfamivegan.wordpress.com/2010/10/18/day-15-%E2%80%93-pimp-my-ramen/

    Reply
  6. Twinky

    I think you need to buy that ginger syrup for your father for Christmas!!

    Mama Kitty and Big Jake are definitely hooked on the wasabi peas, but your large can is a dollar cheaper than what I paid in the Viroqua Walmart!! Who says city living has to be more expensive…???

    I could use some ideas for using coconut cream-milk from bent and dent….

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      Look no further! That coconut cream can easily become a delicious Thai curry, or a fruit smoothie. If you want to come visit I’m willing to do in-person demonstrations . . . =)

      Reply
  7. Danielle

    I love Asian food and have really started cooking it in earnest this year. I can make a mean sushi roll, Korean Lettuce Wraps (with bulgogi), a delicious lo mein with a homemade peanut and ginger sauce, and a few other yummy dishes. This post has a picture of some of the food I made a couple weeks ago. http://littlestwarriorspot.com/2010/10/25/oh-farkle/

    My favorite restaurant in town closed on September 30th so now I can’t get my phat si-io – which is by far my favorite Thai dish!

    Looking forward to reading the recipe on Monday… You got a new subscriber!

    (BTW, did you really win PW’s contest? I’ll feel a *little* better about losing if at least it was a fellow Asian foodie who won.)

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      Hi Danielle! Yes, it looks like I’ll be meeting the PW in a few weeks–so insane! I can hardly believe it myself. I just checked out your blog and the food you made looks AMAZING! I would kill for one of those pieces of sushi right now. =) Is your lo mein recipe on your blog somewhere? Because I’d love to try it . . .

      Reply
  8. Stella

    Hey Jenna! I love the Asian Market too-the best deals ever! Agreed. Though your place looks particularly good. Oh, and your soup looks delicious. I always crave noodles for some reason. This happens at least once a week (smile).
    p.s. when I had a gas stove, it totally looked like yours;-)

    Reply
  9. Sarah

    mmm, never been to the asian groceries in bloomington. once again, via the internet from someone in chicago, i am learning about my town. :) haha

    Reply
  10. Jennifer

    Jenna thanks for sending me a note about winning the PW contest. I was trying on clothes when your comment came through! I am so excited. Do you know the date?

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      It’s the weekend of Dec. 3rd (Friday and Saturday–I’m guessing we’d fly home Sunday morning). I emailed [email protected] to ask for the details but I haven’t heard back yet. So exciting . . .

      Reply
  11. Deborah

    I visited a couple of Asian markets in my area last month, and I have to say your market does look like a dream!! The ones here are quite small…l

    Reply
  12. Heidi

    Jenna! I’m so excited for your PW trip! I can’t believe you won!!!!! Also, I’m way excited about the thai recipe on Monday… and about whatever other thai recipes I can squeeze out of you over Spanksgiving. Our supply of asian ingredients in the normal supermarkets is very sad here in Fairbanks, and I have yet to find an asian grocery store. Boohoo.

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      Thanks Heidikins. The Thai recipe will go up Tuesday (Monday is some random blatherings =) and it turned out really well, so I’m super excited to share it. I’m sorry about the lack of Asian ingredients in Alaska . . . you can stock up in Chicago if you want in a couple weeks. I can’t wait to see you guys!!!!

      Reply
    1. Jenna

      Thanks Natalie! I can’t believe it either . . . I keep forgetting, and then I remember and I get an adrenaline rush. I feel like a kid at Christmas!

      Reply
  13. TasteHongKong

    I understand the excitement especially for one who loves to cook. Seems that you are going to cook up a big meal of mushrooms, because I don’t think you would allow these perishables to be spoiled in the fridge.
    I guess the beech mushrooms are cultivated, so ‘high-tech cultivation’ in that case.

    Reply
  14. Mia

    OMG, i love this Asian store so so muc too now!!
    Loved every bit of these post and every pic of the goodies u bought in!!!
    Id be tempted to add lods of goodies too:-)
    and well u sure are gng to have lods of deliciousness galore!!

    And i agreee, those mushrooms are super cute!!

    Reply
  15. Joanne

    I WISH my “local” Asian grocery store weren’t so far away! You really made out well on this trip. Mmm wasabi peas. That’s what’s missing in my life.

    Reply
  16. Megan

    I love wasabi peas, mostly cause I love wasabi on anything.

    As you may or may not know, I am a mushroom hater, BUT I really like enoki mushrooms, they feel a little more like noodles to me. We usually cook them in a soup, like a lemongrass broth with beef or chicken and thin rice noodles. SUPER YUMMY!

    And as you also know, I love Asian grocery stores. We make a lot of curry around here. One of these days when I start my blog (hopefully soon because now, I think, I’ve decided on a title which is the hardest part of getting it started) I’m gonna post a recipe of stir fried tamarind soba noodles. It’s something Andrew and I threw together quickly on one of those it’s-10:30pm-but-I’m-hungry-for-dinner-again moments. I eat..often…lately, and crave tamarind, for whatever reason :)

    Can’t wait to see a blog post about whatever PW trip everybody’s talking about. I’m intrigued.

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      Oh my gosh!! I can’t wait to read your blog!! You have to let me know as soon as it gets up and running. You have amazing recipes and are so adventurous in the kitchen. It will be a blast to read about.

      Reply
  17. Megan

    BTW, I stumbled across a video a long time ago on a super cheap and easy way to clean a stove. I don’t have the link to the video, but basically you just sprinkle baking soda and salt all over your stove, then lightly spray distilled white vinegar all over, and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Come back and scrub with one of those green, rough, scrubby sponges and everything comes right off, except the occassional really tough spot, just scrub a little harder and that comes off too. Wipe everything off with a wet towel or something and your stove will be super shiny. Hmmm….my explanation sounds long, but it really is simple and cheap. Cleaning products are expensive, but those ingredients are cheap and most people have them on hand anyway.

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      I love vinegar and baking soda solutions! Thanks for the tip. I agree, cleaning products are very expensive and what they do can usually be accomplished in a cheaper (and more natural) way.

      Reply

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