Looking for a few things around Chinatown...
I'm visiting my girlfriend in Chinatown and although she lives there, she doesn't know many good places for food. I'm looking for:
- A Korean or Asian grocery store (the c-mart near her isn't so great)
- Good bagels
- A place where I can buy loose tea and good whole bean coffee
Within a 20min walk of Chinatown would be great. Thank you thank you!
Asian grocery - the "other" Super 88 (the big one is in Allston, but the one at 50 Herald St is not bad)
Good bagels - Boston is eerily bagel-deficient. Hate to recommend a chain, but Brueggers may actually be your best bet; there are several locations in the Financial District. There are pretty good bagels to be found in Chelsea and Newton, but Boston not so much.
Loose tea/whole bean coffee - again a chain, but Peet's in the Financial District may be both the best and the closest of any remarkable quality. Other contenders: Flat Black (further into the the Financial District, but independent and excellent), and Tealuxe (Back Bay, small local chain, tea only)
North End might be a bit of a schlep for the OP, but I like Polcari's reasonably well.
Nice selection, great vibe, perfectly acceptable product, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it. Having said that, for some friends of mine from New Hampshire, no trip to Boston is complete without cannoli from the Modern and two pounds of whole bean from Polcari's.
Best bagels in the main part of the city are probably Aesop's in the BU food court - which is open and is in their student union. Best overall are in Chelsea at Katz's but you really need a car.
I also vote for Peet's.
I live in near Chinatown as well, and so understand your dilemmas!
A few of my thoughts:
Grocery: The CMart that is over on Lincoln Street is better (bigger, better, stocked, etc) than the one off Beach right in Ctown (btwn Washington & Tyler). Agree with finlero that the Super 88 is also not bad. There is also Mings, a little further down on Washington, right near Berkeley. Chaotic, but a great selection and good prices. NOT good produce, tho.
Bagels: The only Brueggers near us that is open on the weekends (just FYI) is up on School St near Washington.
Coffee: Again, just FYI that the Peets is NOT open on the weekends - so stock up Mon-Fri!
Backup: If you walk straight up Summer St, across the Park and over Beacon Hill, Whole Foods Mkt is less than a 20min walk from us. Actually pretty easy, and at least you know they'll have bagels, coffee beans, etc when you're desperate....
Not on your list of requests, but if you're spending a lot of time in Chinatown, you really should visit Rachel's Kitchen, a Mon-Sat breakfast and lunch place the size of a closet in Bay Village. It really is a special place.