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Jun 3, 2007 07:21 PM

Finding Agar-agar in Chinatown

In a recent message M. Wong suggested that agar-agar could be found in Chinese markets. So I spent some time wandering down Stockton Street in Chinatown trying to find some. It soon became clear that there was little overlap between my skills at Chinese and the English skills of the shop clerks. Trying to explain agar-agar greatly exacerbated the problem.

I've managed to determine that agar-agar (English) is kanten in Japan, gulaman in the Philippines, and dai choy goh in Chinese. But this helps very little. Does anyone know for certain of a shop in Chinatown that has dai choy goh? Or, can someone provide a link to a product page in Chinese with chinese characters I could print out to take along on my next expedition?

Thanks for any help!

P.S. I suppose if I give up on Chinatown, I'll try searching for "kanten" in Japantown, but it would really annoy me to have to give up. The thrill of the chow-chase and all that stuff.

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  1. Here's a snapshot of a partially used package that shows the Chinese characters.
    This had more English on the label than many of them.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      1/4 of strand with 4 cups of liquid? (Looks like 2 strands in a bag, correct?) I tried the strand kind and failed so many times that I use the powder kind now (1 tea spoon + 2 cups of liquid)

      Thanks for the pix

      1. re: intomeat

        Hundreds of strands in a bag. Weighing the agar-agar would probably be the best method, but I don't have a scale.

    2. Paul: you'd be better off heading to a more 'american' asian market such as Marina or Ranch 99. Do a google search for addresses and locations.
      I see this ingredient all the time in large packages in the SPICE aisle. I'm from San Jose and this should be easily found in the larger stores. Good luck.

      2 Replies
        1. re: kahnartist

          You should be able to find them in Ranch 99, or in Daly City Pacific Super. here is what it looks like for Indonesian style... The brand name in Indonesia is Swallow.