Best Chinese groceries / supermarket *outside* downtown Chinatown
Hi - I've moved here from Cleveland, which has 2 large-ish, downscale, non-touristy Chinese supermarkets (75% Chinese, 25% Vietnamese, Thai and pan-Asian): Tink Holl and Good Harvest Market. Driving in to Chicago and exploring Chinatown recently, I hoped to find a few similar stores - unpretentious places where you can buy a good range of vegetables; gadgets like rice cookers, herbal crock pots, tea warmers, etc; kitchenware such as large woks; and misc. foods such as fresh made tofu, and chinese dates (I am partial to a brand which comes in a red cardboard box about the size of a small box of chocolates).
The places I saw in Chinatown proper seemed either to be very small, mom and pop stores without much selection, or warehousey - convenience store places without much selection. The area seemed to have a depressing number of very touristy shops with vases and furniture... sort of moribund... in a place the size of Chicago, surely there are more vibrant Chinese shopping areas around. I just don't know where to find them.
In particular, I'm looking for:
A store with a good selection of woks and cooking pots. I'd like to get a 16 - 18 inch wok and would like to have several to choose from...
A store that has a few of those hand-cranked, shaved ice makers. They were there in Cleveland in a range of colors and crazy shapes, and I so regret not having bought one while I had the chance...
Vegetables! Especially the more unusual ones you never see in a Western supermarket
*Good* fresh-made you tiao / chinese donut sticks - there are bad ones, and there are good. Sigh...
Pocky. That's not Chinese, but there you go. A good, deep selection of all sorts of Pocky... more than Mitsuwa Market if at all possible.
Finally, I mentioned it in another post, but I'm also looking for a grocery that carries Chinese single-clove garlic. I've read it's being imported into the USA, I've just never seen it in a store.
Thanks for your 2c!
Anyone who can give a general overview of different neighborhoods / shopping areas will be much beloved.
Did you go to the covered mall in Chinatown, as opposed to the commercial strip on Wentworth? In the mall there's a candy store that may have Pockys. Another place to check out is Golden Pacific, about 5200 north on Broadway - though more geared toward Thai groceries, they are sort of pan-Asian. If you didn't see you tiao in any of the bakeries in Chinatown, they may not be available here - though again, you could check out the Chinatown mall.
Super H is Korean but it's massive and their produce section is phenomenal. Stuff you rarely see anywhere else, including Mitsuwa (it's probbly 4X the size of Mitsuwa's produce). Well worth the trip. While you're at it, go up a little further on Milwaukee to the similar-but-different Assi market. It's a Japanese megamart like Mitsuwa but it has a deeper assortment of items.
Very interesting. I've been to the Argyle area and may have been to the market on Broadway (set in a little strip mall w/ its own parking lot?) - it's definitely the sort of place I had in mind, though the Chinese element was missing.
I hope to get up to Chicago sometime in the next few days... the main missing link seems to be the you tiao. ...Anyone here know of these things? They're very greasy - translation "oil stick" - but very good.
Best - exop, still very interested in your recommendations
If you want 'freshly made you tiao" then you can go to the Ding Hao market food court (such as it is now, ... i.e. less stores now, than when it newly opened) at Ogden and Route 88 in Westmont.
You may want to sniff around Chinatown mall restaurants, especially the non Cantonese ones as well as the bakeries.
You could go to the Vietnamese neighborhood in Uptown. In particular there is the the Broadway Supermarket at 4879 N Broadway. It's huge and has most, if not everything, you want. Argyle street just north of there has more stores and restaurants. Also, if you're willing to drive a little, there's the Super H Mart. Fantastic groceries there.
BTW: in Chinatown there is a hardware store that has a big selection of woks. It's called Woks n' Things.
4879 N Broadway St, Chicago, IL
Super H Mart
801 Civic Center Dr, Niles, IL