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Where to buy a wok in LA?

Reading Breath of a Wok has gotten me excited. Yes, I've been stir-frying (not very well, apparently) all these years in a skillet! Anyway, the book mentions great-sounding sources for woks in San Francisco, New York and even Chicago. Is there no wokery in the SGV? I'm sure the supermarkets have them, but I was hoping for someplace more specialized.

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  1. 99 ranch market,it's a chinese supermarket, it carry all kind of stuff for asian cooking, you can go to 99 ranch market.com to look for location, they are through out L.A.county , orange county, San Diego an Las Vegas.

    1. There is a neat store in L.A.'s Chinatown proper that sells all sorts of East Asian imported goods. It is in the same plaza as Empress Pavilion, but the store was on the ground floor although not directly underneath Empress Pavilion. I don't know the name. I just remember wandering in there while waiting over an hour to be seated at Empress Pavilion for Sunday morning dim sum. They have all sorts gadgets and trinkets and electronics and plenty of things you don't see in any other stores. Everything was well-priced to my mind. While I don't recall seeing any woks, I do remember seeing rows and rows of rice cookers (my sister was looking for a rice cooker at the time, so....). Based on that and considering the huge size of the store, I would assume they carry other Asian cooking "necessities" such as woks. Maybe someone else on this board can come up with a name....

      2 Replies
      1. re: hch_nguyen

        I love that store. They have EVERYTHING, and really cheap too. All sorts of cookware and a myriad of other kitchen stuff, office supplies, furniture, bath stuff, jewelry and makeup (hmmm), just everything.
        For those of you who remember, this store is in the old 99 Ranch Market space in the Empress Pavilion plaza.
        oops, forgot this was about woks. I think they must have it, but I've never specifically looked for it.

        1. re: slacker

          Love that place. It is called "Super Home Store"

      2. Action Sales has the best selection of woks and related items in the greater L.A. area. They have different styles and sizes from too small up to stir fry a whole pig size! Lots of cool kitchen gadgets and tools at great prices. They seem very commercial but the public is welcome.

        http://www.actionsales.com/Index.asp

        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/38225...

        6 Replies
        1. re: sel

          Action Sales is not open to the public. But there are two places on San Gabriel Blvd. that are.

          H&B Sales Inc.
          (626) 280-3618

          and

          New Asia.
          (626) 307-4863

          I got my wok for like $18 at H&B. Love it.

          1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

            Has the policy changed at Action Sales? I have bought everything from my current wok and wok tools plus a lot of assorted kitchen gadgets and nick nacks and a commercial restaurant grade panini press there. I'm no longer in the food business, I haven't been for a long time. I walk in, pick what I need and pay the posted prices. The guys working the floor ask if I need help, they are friendly and helpful. I haven't ever had any problems!

            1. re: sel

              sel, when i last went, which is around february '06... i was casually approached by a sales associate asking if i had a business license. i said yes and asked if i needed to apply for a membership or anything. he said no and i took it as a one time-check routine. who knows? but yes the ppl are very friendly but i like to help out the family that runs the mom&pop H&B sales inc - also very nice people.

              1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                The Action Sales on Atlantic (they have a big warehouse somewhere else too) has always been open to the public AFAIK. I don't know if they have any that are a good size for home use, though. Strangely, though, small ROUND bottom woks are hard to find in the SGV. My gf's parents live out there and she shops there all the time, but ended up getting a wok online from the Wok Shop. Good prices / service.

                There's a shop in Chinatown that had a pretty decent selection of stuff, I forget exactly where, but I think in the same plaza as Ten Ren and Wing Hop Fung.

                1. re: will47

                  would you consider a 14" or 16" wok small? i got a 16" at H&B for under $20. good to know about action sales... they must have changed their policy within the year.

                  1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                    I think the one we have is around that size (probably 14").

                    Well you said that Action Sales did sell to you before, right? Think they just want to know about business licenses for tax reasons, or maybe to get you to the right sales person. A lot of stores that are primarily wholesale or b2b act a little weird if you don't seem like you belong, but most will still sell to you.

                    Last time I was there, they had some great deals on Mundial forged cutlery.

        2. The Hawaii Super Market at the corner of Del Mar and Valley Blvd in San Gabriel has a gigantic selection of Asian cookware, woks, pots and pans, steamers, cook's tools, dishes, casseroles and cutlery, including REALLY BIG woks, tools and pots intended for restaurant use. While you're there, check out the other sections, too. They have a great selection of produce, at prices often well below those of the 99 Ranch Markets (Thai basil $2.99/lb as compared to $9.99/lb), and carry many fruit and vegetable items (real jujubes [the fruit, not the candy], for example) not often seen elsewhere. Their meat and fish section has a LARGE selection of live fish, crabs, shrimp and lobsters, plus live turtles and live frogs in addition to a broad selection of fish on ice. In the frozen food section, among the more exotic items you'll find are bull's pizzles, chicken testes, frozen alligator and whole frozen armadillos. Altogether, the Hawaii market, while not the world's cleanest, is certainly one of the very most interesting and well-stocked markets in Southern California.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bagdoodle

            They also have frozen rabbit and boneless lamb shoulder, two items that can be really hard to find. I'm sure you could get a fresh lamb shoulder boned at Bristol Farms, but it'd cost ya. The rabbits are good quality and cheapish ($7/lb. last two I got, or about $15 each), and they're in cryovac packaging so they'll last in your freezer practically forever.

            Cheap fruits and veges for sure! last year their navel oranges got down to 9ยข a pound, though I doubt they'll be going that low this year.

          2. There's a place almost across the street from NBC in Monterey Park. They are primarily a supplier for restaurants, but I believe they are opened to the public.

            In case you haven't gotten to this particular detail yet, I'd give one heads-up about woks in general. You usually have a choice between the traditional round-bottomed wok, and a flat-bottomed wok. If you get a round-bottomed wok, you will need the metal perforated collar that will allow the wok to sit properly on any cooktop that wasn't specifically designed for a traditional wok. My guess is you've already covered this detail, but just in case... I believe most woks available today are mechanically pressed - the old ones are pounded by hand. My mom-in-law likes these better for some reason. But she also cooks in an indoor/outdoor kitchen and still uses charcoal for alot of her cooking... what can I say...

            If all else fails, just use a good solid well-seasoned cast iron skillet. The effect will be similar - it just might take more steps to stir-fry the food, and more time to allow for the skillet to reheat. When cooking with a wok, it's all about the intense heat that gives you most of those great stirfry dishes... All but a very few heat sources can provide the kind of heat that Chinese restaurants typically use.

            3 Replies
            1. re: bulavinaka

              bula, yeah that's Action Sales, big store. for those that need a nice burner.... i recommend the Big Kahuna burner for only $50 off amazon. the thing blasts nearly 50,000 BTU's... almost 7-8 times higher than your conventional stove. it is almost frightening to use this b/c it gets the wok extremely HOT. i have seen my wok glow once and turned it down to reduce the chance of armageddon.

              1. re: eatdrinknbmerry

                Yeah... now you're talkin... our neighbor uses one to fry catfish - outside. That's the great thing about those burners as most home kitchens are not outfitted with ventilation that can blow out smoke generated by a true wok setup... Take it outside and turn that puppy up!

              2. re: bulavinaka

                The old-fashioned ones are not quite as smooth, so if you move the food up the side, they tend to stay up instead of sliding down or so the theory goes. I have both a hand-pounded and a machine-pressed wok and haven't noticed the difference.

                You can also get a wire "ring" that fits the inside of the wok. It looks like two concentric rings on three or four legs. This will allow you to create a flat surface that you can use to steam dishes. I highly recommend getting one of these (very cheap).

              3. Go to BangkokMarket up on Melrose. Best Thai import store in town. You'll get a decent wok too.

                4 Replies
                1. re: dublinchef

                  Go to wokshop.com. It is a SF company and their stuff is great...

                  1. re: nyfoodjoe

                    I also bought my last wok (for my daughter...my own wok is 30 years old) from wokshop.com in SF. It was a fine round bottomed wok, and inexpensive. For anyone wanting to buy a wok I cannot emphasize enough that only a round bottom wok will really produce the results you want. I guess the flat bottomed ones were developed for stupid Westerners who couldn't imagine how anything with a round bottom could be used for cooking, but what do I know?
                    Mark

                    1. re: markdefrates

                      FWIW, my gf's parents (who are Chinese) use a flat bottom wok exclusively at home (on a gas range). Not only that, but the carbon steel woks commonly available at Asian markets (which cater mostly to Chinese / Vietnamese / Taiwanese consumers) are mostly flat bottom.

                      I'm not saying you're wrong (I would encourage anyone buying a wok to get a round bottom one), but I don't think it's true that flat bottom woks were only invented for stupid round-eyes.

                      1. re: markdefrates

                        The round bottom does not work well on flat-surfaced conventional stoves - like the ones that are standard here - not to say that it can't be done. The round bottom does serve a purpose in concentrating the heat, but its shape is functional for the type of heating sources used in wok cooking as well - either a cylindrical ceramic/fired clay charcoal burning stove, an enclosed earthen oven with a round hole above the area where the charcoal is stoked, or a more gas/propane commercial grade stove that either has a special high-btu burner with a metal ring to hold the wok, or one that has a ceramic hole with the burner deep in the stove - like the kinds found in Chinese and some Thai restaurants...

                        One can get results from a flat-bottomed wok - even a cast-iron skillet - that would be similar to a round-bottomed wok - it's all in the technique one uses and understanding how to compensate for the lack of fierce btu's that are instantaneously available with a traditional wok set-up... :)

                  2. Wallmart $15 Carbonsteel Flatbotom Wok

                    1. i would avoid the cheap woks at silom market (thaitown). i bought one for about $7 and found that it has this horrible coating on it that won't come off. i think it is stainless steel plus a very cheap nonstick coating. it's not the oily coating often used on woks to protect them from rust. i put mine on high heat and saw the wok change colors. there was a huge black spot on the bottom. then i scrubbed it with steel wool, but no change. then i boiled vinegar and saw the black spot start to dissolve as the weird coating lifted off. i haven't been able to get the rest of the coating off, so i'm going to toss it out.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: fivealive

                        I guess it was only $7 if you threw it away, but hopefully you didn't. If it's carbon steel, the wok should change colors when you first heat it. Read about seasoning your wok here: http://thepauperedchef.com/2007/08/wh...

                      2. Lax-C at 1100 North Main St. just northeast of Chinatown is definitely open to the public, is as big as any Costco you have ever been to, and is all Thai - groceries, cookware, sundries, spirit houses, a whole lot of woks, you name it. And it's one of the most fun shopping experiences in all of L.A. The food court is good, too.

                        1. Downtown LA in China town. The Bamboo Plaza on Broadway near the freeway has a killer store will all kind of kitchen stuff. ....without the Sur la Table prices. Also, Star Restaurant Supply in Van Nuys rocks. Place has been there forever and is professional and cost effective. Surfas in Culver City also has professional supplies, but pricier than Star.

                          1. Surfas in Culver City does have nice authentic Chinese carbons steel woks and true accessories (wok spatula, wok ladle) for reasonable prices. I got a 14" carbon steel wok there a couple of years for around $14, seasoned it well, and have been loving it ever since...

                            If you're anywhere near the west side, it's fast and and convenient (and they carry SO much other stuff, too...!)

                            I also love my authentic Chinese cast iron wok (THINI! Not bulky like American cast iron!)) from wokshop.com. Fast and wonderful service. People think this wok looks like a 200 year old Mongolian antique! Very rustic and authentic and seasons well!