So what better way to escape the biblical gnat plague than to do a somewhat random ethnic grocery tour?
Saturday I went shopping with my mom, she was in search of basil seed drinks (which I also enjoy) and kimchee, me I was looking for some good chow fun.
We met at Thai pastry (4925 N. Broadway), which I have previously disparaged on this board for everything except chive dumplings and desserts. That opinion still holds.
They have started offering ice cream though. The coconut tasted as if it had made from coconut cream and had nice irregular slivers of coconut meat in there, very tasty.
First stop was Tai Nam, around the corner (4925 N Broadway St # J). They were out of basil seed drinks (for more info on these see below). Tai nam had some fresh Filipino sweet pampanga sausage, some of Lao Gan Ma chili pastes from the PRC, that RST has previously mentioned and that foodfirst has also recommended, though less varieties than in the recent past
We dropped off my moms car and took off for the new improved, produce offering Hi-Mart. Hi Mart (5800 N. Pulaski), which is owned by Chicago Food Corp on Addison & Kimball was previously an Asian restaurant supply superstore, more recently theyve added some of the produce stuff as at the location on Addison. The Hi Mart was a disappointment, though there a was a fair amount of selection, it was mostly of the prepackaged large amount variety, and the variety was not all that impressive (and quite expensive actually) Though I did pick up a very nice ginger cracker these are short rolled pirouline types, but slightly thicker - says on the bag 1.5% ginger juice. No restaurant either at the Hi-Mart, it's not really an alternative to the Chicago Food on Addison yet, or Arirang for that matter,
Some of the kimchee we picked up at the back "deli" counter at Arirang (4017 W. Lawrence) was just delicious. Also picked up a little take out package of 6 little cutlet/omelet things - these were like the seafood pancake that are usually offered at korean places (pa 'jun i think) but filled instead with ground beef done somewhat bulgogi style, with immense amounts of garlic, fairly good when dipped in some hot chili paste.
After Arirang, it was back to argyle, to regather moms car and check out Broadway Market (4879 N Broadway). They not only had plenty of the basil-seed drinks on hand, it also had the largest selection of brands from the PRC, including one I hadnt seen before sizhilou (bottled in Sichuan) anyone tried this stuff? I picked some very nice, just pillowy, superfresh chow fun, i was tempted to just bite into the package unadorned and it was unadorned without label or identifying marks as the other noodles were. This is also where I picked up the fermented tofu that Gary had previously recommended and posted a a word of warning on this, my little bottle of the stuff leaked once I brought it home. Nothing perks up the smell of a kitchen more than fermented tofu juice. (well other than the smell of a good cigar)