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[MSP] Sprawling Hmong Market in St. Paul?

The Dairy Queen Aug 17, 2006 02:34 AM

So, in an article called "The Worldwide Way" about the Hmong (and other ethnic) influence on University Avenue, today's Pioneer Press mentions a "sprawling market" near the Capitol on Como Avenue.

This seemed very chow-promising to me, so I got in my car and puttered up and down Como, Rice, and Dale Streets where they intersect University in search of a sprawling market. Sadly, I couldn't find a "sprawling market" of the kind I was envisioning. I did see "Dragon Star Oriental Foods" on Minnehaha at Como. I wish I had stopped in but, it wasn't "on Como" and I was on a mission for the holy-grail of sprawling markets. I plan to stop by next time, but, in the mean time:

Anyone know what sprawling market they might be talking about? Could it be Dragon Star Oriental Foods? I'm not even sure it's Hmong, although, I do see some folks raving about it in Josh Resnick's University Avenue thread from about three years ago...


Has it stood up to the test of time?

How's Shuang Hur, at 654 University Aveon University up the road from Foodsmart?


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  1. d
    dotMac RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 17, 2006 04:27 AM

    I'm only familiar with Shuang Hur on Nicollet. Same company?

    3 Replies
    1. re: dotMac
      The Dairy Queen RE: dotMac Aug 17, 2006 01:49 PM

      I don't know the answer to that. I googled, I looked it up in the phone book. The two Shuang Hur's never seem to get mentioned at the same time. Maybe I'll just have to stop in (or phone in) and ask.


      1. re: dotMac
        The Dairy Queen RE: dotMac Aug 21, 2006 03:02 PM

        Oh, I forgot to mention, I stopped at Shuang Hur on University--according to this article, it is affiliated with the one on University. http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/node/2049

        It does have the tanks with the live tilapia and a fairly robust meat counter, but it doesn't seem to have the barbeque pork, chicken and duck that I keep hearing is so fabulous at the MPLS location. According to the link above, it has barbeque on weekends, but I didn't see it. I could have asked for it, I suppose, but was more on a reconnaisance mission to see what the place was about than in a purchasing mood.


        1. re: The Dairy Queen
          The Dairy Queen RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 21, 2006 05:47 PM

          In my post above, I meant to say the Shuang Hur on University is affiliated with the Shuang Hur in Minneapolis...

          My typo above makes it sound like the one on University is affiliated with itself, which is just silly.


      2. m
        Mel Carne RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 17, 2006 01:36 PM

        I stopped there for the first time last Monday. It is on the North side of Como, just West of Marion.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Mel Carne
          The Dairy Queen RE: Mel Carne Aug 17, 2006 01:48 PM

          Mel, where did you stop? At Dragon Star? What did you buy there? Was it good? Dish! Dish! Dish out the details! :)


        2. d
          Danny RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 17, 2006 03:01 PM

          Foodsmart on University is a Hmong grocery store with a really good cafeteria/foodline. Whatever I've had from the steam table has been good, although the employees speak very little English. If you're lucky (like I was on one visit) one of the other customers will act as translate for you.

          1. s
            shoo bee doo RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 18, 2006 01:37 AM

            Yes. You have to look closely when you are on Como near Marion. You have to go into this partially hidden driveway going North. There you'll see it. I only drove through and around one day. It looks very interesting and I plan to explore when I have more time. The Pioneer Press wrote an article a few weeks about a really good restaurant somewhere there. I did not see it. But there's definitely a market.

            1 Reply
            1. re: shoo bee doo
              The Dairy Queen RE: shoo bee doo Aug 19, 2006 07:54 PM

              Interesting! Okay, I'm going to have to go look harder and maybe take a map with me this time. You wouldn't happen to have a link to the PP article would you? Or remember the name or type of cuisine they were reviewing? After reading your post, I searched their website a bit but couldn't find anything in the last couple of months that sounded to me like it was in that area.


            2. teamkitty RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 20, 2006 03:54 AM

              I went there today - not having read this post - and it was very cool. The "food court" is in the complex on the left as you first enter the market. There is a good deal of fried fish, sausage and pork. One couple was eating what looked like deep fried goldfish and tilapia was also on offer. The larb looked promising, and was studded with chopped green bird chilies. There was a stand at one end selling all manner of "bubble teas", including one filled with gummi bears. The food at the "Thai Thai Daily" was heavy on curries and smelled wonderful.

              The food on offer in the market is essentially the same as at many of the stalls in the farmers markets in Minneapolis and on University in St. Paul - many kinds of peppers, bitter balls, onions, herbs, okra/ladies fingers, and so forth. White peaches were a big hit with many shoppers, but expensive at $5 for four fruits, Small "burro" bananas looked tempting. The scallions were long and thin and exquisite. Ginger was a good buy - healthy and about $2/lb. as was galanga.

              If you look at the back of one of the buildings marked "General Merchandise", you can find good deals on strainers (plastic and metal), flowered plastic dishes and some cooking tools. Saturday is a good day to go if you don't speak Hmong or Thai, as many of the children of the owners are working and are happy to tell you what is what.


              1. The Dairy Queen RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 21, 2006 02:29 PM

                Wow! This International Market Place, open 7 days a week, is hopping! The parking lot (which is full of bumps and potholes--beware), is packed even at early evening on a Sunday. It's at right where Como Avenue intersects Marion, in St. Paul, directly across the street from the Scheffer Rec center softball fields.

                At first, it looks like a bunch of disparate buildings, some of which look rather industrial. But, sure enough, there's a 8-10 foot tall sign (likely hand stenciled) in front that says something along the lines of "International Market " "US Asian" and "open seven days a week." (I wish I had either a pen or a camera along; sadly, I had neither.)

                Here's a blurb about the market I found by googling:

                As teamkitty says, the food court is off to the left (from the perspective of "as you enter the parking lot"), the produce market is straight ahead (behind a little produce shack and some food trucks.) The produce market doesn't appear to have the same "must be locally grown, within 75-miles" limitation that the St. Paul farmer's market has, so several vendors had bags of lychees and longans for sale. Lots of chilies and cilantro in addition to what teamkitty mentioned.

                When you enter the food court, you may think you're in the wrong place because you pass through several little stalls of vendors selling clothes and toys and Hmong videos. Just keep going to the back.

                This place is more or less in view of the Capitol and the Cathedral, yet, it’s so unassuming that it escapes notice. I can’t believe this has been here under my nose all this time. It reminded me a lot of the markets I've visited in South East Asia, except that about 70% of the signs are in English, everyone that I spoke to responded in English, and it was less pungent and less crowded.

                I’m definitely going back—with camera, pen, paper, and small bills- to sample some food.


                1. r
                  Rowdy RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 22, 2006 03:37 AM

                  I was by there today, and made special note of landmarks to help out folks having a hard time finding the place.

                  It is on the north side of Como, just half a block west of the traffic light at Pennsylvania. (I don't THINK that Marion goes off from Como on the south of that intersection, but I'm not sure. I am sure about the Pennsylvania.)

                  Look for a small driveway in a four foot high teal fence with brown posts and cap. It's kinda hard to miss, given that fence.

                  I went a couple of years ago when they were just getting up and running. Haven't been back since, but I'm interested in checking it out now that they're serving food!

                  1. The Dairy Queen RE: The Dairy Queen Jan 22, 2007 12:05 AM

                    I realize I never reported back on some visits I finally made to the Hmong market. These are my impressions from my notes from several months ago--I hope they aren't too stale or vague to be helpful. If anyone else has been to the Hmong market since I inquired about it last summer, please do feel free to chime in, I'm curious to see what kinds of experiences others have has.

                    Thank you!

                    Food court at the Hmong Market
                    217 Como Avenue St. Paul MN 55103

                    Food court vendors from left to right if you’re facing the food court back wall:
                    ~One Stop Deli
                    ~Papaya Kitchen Asian Food
                    ~Thai Thai Daily
                    ~5 Star Deli
                    ~BT restaurant
                    ~Vendor on End (I didn't catch the name)
                    ~Asian Special drinks (Vendor along wall to your right)
                    ~Vendor behind you if you’re facing the back-wall food court

                    ~Ordered from Papaya Kitchen Asian Food
                    Curry noodle soup (w/sauce)—purple cabbage, cilantro,
                    Deep fried pork
                    Sweet pork soup with hard boiled eggs

                    ~From, I think, Thai Thai Daily:
                    Egg rolls w/dipping sauce
                    Strawberry bubble tea w/big purple bubbles
                    Green ("popular in Thailand" the vendor said) tea w/big purple bubbles
                    Rainbow tea (w/small red roe-like bubbles, green noodley ones, big red berry shaped ones, big purple ones, sweetened condensed milk)
                    Fried yellow sticky corn patty (from vendor behind you as you face the food court back wall)
                    Lotus leaf with white rice (sticky) (from vendor behind you)
                    Quail with sticky rice (purple) & dipping sauce (from vendor on the end)

                    ~From Thai Thai Daily
                    #25 Spicy Shrimp Soup (tom yum goong) shrimp with mushroom and tomatoes in a hot and sour with a touch of lemon grass
                    Fried heads on Prawns
                    Savory cabbage roll (with pork & glass noodles) & dipping sauce

                    I've not had a lot of bubble tea, but I really liked the "rainbow" bubble tea (so many different textures!), as well as the green one. The rainbow one was fun to watch them make, too--a spoon of this and a spoon of that, and so on.

                    My other favorites were the tom yum goong soup (spicy, with shrimp), the sweet pork soup with hard boiled eggs (its wonderful, who knew!), and the curry noodle soup. Everything was so incredibly affordable.

                    I thought the fried yellow sticky corn patty (from vendor behind you as you face the food court back wall) and the lotus leaf with white rice (sticky) (from vendor behind you) were both really bland. They were also cold, but it was pretty late in the day when I ordered them. Also, I was really disappointed by the heads-on shrimp--everyone else ate them like they were snacks, as if eating from a bowl of popcorn or something. I thought they would be spicier or more flavorful, but they just didn't make an impression. When I had them as leftover the next day, they smelled very strongly of fish oil, though, and obviously were peppered. I could have done without the "savory cabbage roll" with pork and glass noodles--just not that interesting. When I scouted the market out on a Sunday, they had all kinds of beautiful fried tilapia and other fishes, dumplings (like sesame balls), and noodle rolls etc. that I wanted to try. Unfortunately, many of those were already packed up when I tried to visit later.

                    On weekday evenings, it's a little unclear exactly when "quitting time" is. Really, I think 5-5:30pm is the outside if you want to get there before they start packing things up. I do wonder, though, if weekends might be the best time to go.


                    The Hmong Market is at 217 Como between Marion and Galtier. I got there from University (heading East Bound) by turning left onto Rice right before the Capitol, then left again on Como. The Hmong market would be on your right using these directions. On the left hand side would be the Scheffer Rec center softball fields.

                    It has a huge pair of white signs –one stacked on top of the other—that have been stenciled to read:

                    International Market Place (Yellow lettering on Blue)
                    Year Round Indoor-Outdoor Market (Yellow on Blue)
                    Fresh fruits and vegetables-indoor Foodcourt (Red lettering on white)
                    General Merchandize-Arts & Crafts & Jewelry (Red on white)
                    Open 7 Days a week 651-487-3700 (Blue lettering on white back ground)

                    Second sign (white background)
                    US ASIAN (red “faux” Asian lettering)
                    Chinese Food and Grocery Store (red block lettering)

                    There’s a fence around that is mostly turquoise/green, but has trim and occasional panels in brick red.

                    The food court is the second building on your left from the perspective of the driveway you enter from Como. It’s a red brick color building.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                      The Dairy Queen RE: The Dairy Queen Jan 28, 2007 04:18 PM

                      Okay, I'm trying the new attach photo feature of some photos from my visits to the Hmong market. I'm not a photographer, so, be patient with me. The first 3 photos are of the outside of the Hmong market from the street and the last one is the food court building. (And, yes, it looks warm and sunny out! I've been sitting on these photos for awhile...)


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                        The Dairy Queen RE: The Dairy Queen Jan 28, 2007 04:26 PM

                        Unfortunately, only one of the photos of the restaurants inside the food court came out (Thai Thai Daily), but here's a photo of that stand inside the food court and the savory cabbage roll, the heads on prawns, and the #25 spicy shrimp soup from Thai Thai Daily.


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                          The Dairy Queen RE: The Dairy Queen Jan 28, 2007 04:35 PM

                          Here are photos of:
                          Photo #1:
                          Curry noodle soup (w/sauce)—purple cabbage, cilantro,
                          Photo #2:
                          Deep fried pork
                          Sweet pork soup with hard boiled eggs
                          Photo #3:
                          Egg rolls w/dipping sauce
                          Photo #4:
                          Strawberry bubble tea w/big purple bubbles
                          Green ("popular in Thailand" the vendor said) tea w/big purple bubbles
                          (Also, with the savory cabbage roll again)


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                            The Dairy Queen RE: The Dairy Queen Jan 28, 2007 04:42 PM

                            Okay, last series of photos:

                            Photo #1:
                            Rainbow tea (w/small red roe-like bubbles, green noodley ones, big red berry shaped ones, big purple ones, sweetened condensed milk)
                            Photo #2:
                            Fried yellow sticky corn patty (from vendor behind you as you face the food court back wall)
                            Lotus leaf with white rice (sticky) (from vendor behind you)
                            Photo #3:
                            Quail with sticky rice (purple) & dipping sauce (from vendor on the end)


                          2. air RE: The Dairy Queen Jul 15, 2010 08:30 AM

                            Hi MSP hounds, long time no see! I'll be in town next week and planning to make a stop here. I've found a lot of helpful information on the market all over the internet, especially from this thread and another I saw on LTH forum.

                            However, a lot of what I've read is dated at least a year or more old, so has anyone recently been to the Hmong market? Are these suggestions still good (in other words, are these vendors still actually there)?

                            9 Replies
                            1. re: air
                              The Dairy Queen RE: air Jul 15, 2010 01:43 PM

                              It's been about 6 months since I've been there. They have new signage at the entrance to the complex, but you'd still recognize it. The food court vendors come and go, so, no, not all of these vendors are there, but several of them still are.

                              But, just head to the back of that first building to the "food court" and you will have your pick of vendors. Also, this time of year, make sure to head all the way (east) to the back of the complex to the farmers' stalls. Lots of great produce in there. There's a building to just south of the farmers' stalls with some good year-round tropical produce, too.


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                Danny RE: The Dairy Queen Jul 16, 2010 09:19 AM

                                We were there yesterday, the food court is in the same place. There is also a single food stand back behind the tropical fruits inside.

                                Because the food stands change hands so often, there have been a lot of changes. There seems to be more stands selling just bubble teas than there were in the past, and when we were there, late in the day on Thursday, they was a fairly limited selection.

                                It made me wonder about the status of the "new" Hmong Marketplace behind Dragon Star Foods. When it was being built a couple of years ago, one of the vendors there told me their plan was to be like Hmongtown, "but cleaner."

                                1. re: Danny
                                  The Dairy Queen RE: Danny Jul 16, 2010 09:31 AM

                                  I was at that "Golden Globe" market behind Dragon Star Foods (the big blue building) about a year ago in early afternoon on a weekend and I have to say, I was pretty underwhelmed by the food court. It is cleaner, but that's probably because the place is so empty. Lots of the food stalls were empty or closed. I don't know if it would be more lively on a different day of the week or a different time of day. There were a few people eating there, though. But, it seemed like a lot of the same stuff as at the Hmong flea market on Como, although, they did have stuffed chicken wings, which I hadn't seen anywhere else.


                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                    soupkitten RE: The Dairy Queen Jul 16, 2010 01:24 PM

                                    at least one booth at the "old" hmong market has stuffed chicken wings which were very good. i think they are at the 3rd or 4th booth, far left along the row-- if you follow me? might be the booth to the left of mr. papaya. the same booth sells sausages and ribs. also tried the quail and tilapia from different booths at the "old" hmong market recently.

                                    agreed about the golden globe market-- was there a couple months ago and it was pretty dead, though it seems like more vendors are slowly moving in. the large, attached east asian grocery is worth a browse, though. we loaded up on a lot of staples. . . and some imported candy and sweets. for hot food, the "old" hmong market has golden globe beat, though.

                                    1. re: soupkitten
                                      The Dairy Queen RE: soupkitten Jul 16, 2010 01:28 PM

                                      Hmmm...I've never noticed the stuffed chicken wings there, but maybe I'll be more on the lookout now that I know they are there. I think it depends on when you go, too, what they have and what they might be out of, etc. Thanks for the tip.


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                        soupkitten RE: The Dairy Queen Jul 16, 2010 01:35 PM

                                        true. i'm usually there in the early afternoon around 1 and i'm gone at the latest by 2:30 or 3, so i don't know what tends to sell out later on, but all the vendors do seem to prepare a limited amt of fresh food, which they sell out of, & then they close up shop when it makes sense to them & start out fresh again the next day. the op should go earlier rather than later for the best selection of food.

                                        1. re: soupkitten
                                          air RE: soupkitten Jul 16, 2010 11:05 PM

                                          That's disappointing to hear as I will only have the time to head over there to do dinner. Would hate to make the drive there from Apple Valley and find that there is nothing available.

                                          1. re: air
                                            The Dairy Queen RE: air Jul 17, 2010 02:25 AM

                                            It's not really at its liveliest for dinner, unfortunately. There might be a stall or two open, but they will be sold out of most items, and will be in packing up mode.


                                        2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                          clepro RE: The Dairy Queen Jul 16, 2010 11:15 PM

                                          I've had the stuffed chicken wings there within the last four months. They were at a booth near the end of the row (turning left as you approach the court) where sausages and ribs, as soupkitten noted, were also being sold.

                              2. j
                                JimGrinsfelder RE: The Dairy Queen Jul 17, 2010 10:10 AM

                                I believe the Hmong marketplace was originally a lumber yard.

                                I liked the papaya salad, the beef ribs and the thai soup served in what looks like an aluminum bundt pan. I didn't enjoy the stuffed chicken wings. I thought they were bland.

                                1. p
                                  prasantrin RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 7, 2012 03:42 AM

                                  Could someone confirm the hours of Hmong Market? I read 8am to 7pm. I was hoping to go for dinner, but won't arrive till 6--probably too late?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: prasantrin
                                    ChillyDog RE: prasantrin Aug 7, 2012 04:03 AM

                                    8am - 8pm according to their website. There is a phone number listed that you could call to confirm.


                                    1. re: ChillyDog
                                      prasantrin RE: ChillyDog Aug 7, 2012 02:15 PM

                                      Thanks! I'll give them a call when I get into town!

                                  2. p
                                    prasantrin RE: The Dairy Queen Aug 15, 2012 05:01 PM

                                    I was at the Hmong Marketplace last week. We got there at six, and many of the non-food stalls were closed, but more importantly, a number were just plain empty. The food court is tiny--much smaller than I expected, and with not many options. When my friend and her family arrived and took a gander, it was decided our group would be more comfortable at On's.

                                    My friend also mentioned that she asked her Hmong friends for recs on what to order, and they told her most of the good food vendors (as well as other vendors) had already moved to Hmong Village. Oh well. Next time!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: prasantrin
                                      kriminalrat RE: prasantrin Jun 15, 2013 03:57 PM

                                      I usually go to hmong village off of Johnson so I thought I'd check out the marketplace on como. I have to say I prefer the village. My go to is the papaya salad at Mai's in the village. Had the salad at mr papayas at marketplace and ordered it Thai style which is sweeter and has less fish sauce then Laos style. Unfortunately it was murky with fish sauce and shrimp paste and tasted nothing like traditional Thai papaya salad.

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