Asia Supermarket opened late last year in the 25,000-square-foot former home of an OfficeMax in Windcrest. And shame on me, I’ve only just now paid the place a visit.
The newish grocery store is a sprawling emporium of flavors from China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines and many others. I lost a couple hours exploring the aisles and found plenty to love about the place, which provides one of the widest selection of products from Asia in the San Antonio area.
From snack food to kitchen tools to fresh produce and beyond, here are six things to put on your grocery list if you’re in the mood for a culinary outing with international appeal.
Eat your greens: I’ve always been a fan of the vegetable selection in grocery stores that specialize in Asian cuisines. Be it tender baby bok choi, Chinese broccoli, kabocha squash, banana blossoms, bitter melon or any other number ingredients I can’t reliably find at H-E-B, I know many of these stores will generally have my back.
Asia Supermarket is no exception. They’re worth a trip for the selection of fresh herbs such as purple shiso, Thai basil and culantro alone (culantro is an herb with a similar flavor to cilantro, but stronger).
On ExpressNews.com: See what recipes we’re creating and cooking here. Bookmark the page!
Getting saucy: If your pantry is anything like mine, there are scores of bottles and jars of undetermined origin. A few different kinds of fish sauce, several marinades, a bottle of banana ketchup, at least a half-dozen types of chile paste. Asia Supermarket is a place to avoid if expanding that collection is problematic for you.
I went home with a jar of chicken galbi marinade from the Seoul, South Korea-based Taekyung Nongsan. And I’ll have to answer for that. There isn’t an inch of room left for it in the cupboard.
Bottoms up: I was thoroughly impressed with Asia Supermarket’s selection of beer, wine and sake. If your adult beverage routine has gotten stale, this place is a must.
I brought home a tiny bottle of Nigori Crème de Sake — it’s a super cloudy rice wine with a mild acidity and decent amount of sweetness that I plan on pairing with a fiery plate of pork bulgogi. Beer fans will no doubt want to grab a six-pack of Sapporo, Kirin, Asahi, Orion, Beerlao or other brews.
Dumplings, darling: Who doesn’t love potstickers, shumai, wontons and every other kind of dumpling the world has to offer?
In the freezer section of Asia Supermarket, you’ll find several dozen varieties to tempt your dumpling-loving heart and belly. I went with a big bag of beef gyoza that will make a perfect appetizer to my next bowl of homemade ramen.
Noodling around: Speaking of ramen, if slurping up a big ol’ bowl of noodles is your idea of bliss, Asia Supermarket is your nirvana. In dried form, the store stocks several dozen (at least) varieties from all over the globe: Ramen, somen, soba, rice noodles in dozens of shapes, they’ve got it.
And even better, a case near the produce department holds a dozen or so types of fresh ready-to-cook noodles including 10-pound bags of the rice noodles used in pho.
On ExpressNews.com: New Southtown grocery store Wong’s Bodega focused on health food
Any way you slice it: The Thailand-produced Kiwi brand of knives has long been an under-the-radar favorite of many culinary professionals for their ridiculously sharp edges and rock-bottom prices. I picked up a small paring knife with enough edge to shave with right out of the package for $2.99. Larger blades top out around $15.
Asia Supermarket also stocks several types of Chinese cleaver-style knives and other less common cutlery, all modestly priced.
Asia Supermarket is open 8 a.m to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at 4925 Windsor Hill in Windcrest. More at 210-455-2860 or Facebook: @AsiaSupermarketTX.
Many of the ingredients Asia Supermarket stocks would have come in handy during my most recent cooking marathon. Our latest Taste centerpiece focused on several ways to use eggplant, and the toasted sesame seeds and Korean chile flakes in our Bulgogi-Style Eggplant are a must-have for any well-stocked kitchen.
Recipe: Eggplant Salad with Feta and Pepitas (Roasted Pumpkin Seeds)
Recipe: Ajvar (Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Spread)
Recipe: Bulgogi-Style Eggplant
Recipe: Eggplant Parmesan
Paul Stephen is a food and drink reporter and restaurant critic in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. To read more from Paul, become a subscriber. [email protected] | Twitter: @pjbites | Instagram: @pjstephen