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Assi Market food court is a real find!

What better way is there to spend a cold February evening than to explore an array of Asian food specialties with old and new friends at the local Korean market food court? Hey, times are tough and Georges Perrier might have to postpone our patronage until the next economic upswing. For now, value, variety and a recession era good time are readily available at the Assi Market food court (1222 Welsh Road, North Wales, PA).

Last Saturday, eleven of us converged at Assi to schmooze and sample the six small but bountiful concessions. There are two Korean places (Friends and Man Nam Korean), two Japanese (Sushi Express and Izumi) along with the Agafe Asian Bakery and the Break Time Coffee Shop. I went the sushi/sashimi route at Izumi along with Chuckles52 and his chef friend, Bob. While I was quite sated with the $7.99 sampler and complimentary cup of hot miso soup, Chuckles and Bob later indulged in a bowl of tempura udon and skewered chicken yakatori. Man Nam provided Crazyspice with a huge bowl of dumpling/ramen soup with sides of kim-chee and pickled daikon while friends Robin, Alexis and Emilie shared kim-chee fried rice, shrimp fried rice (both cloaked in a paper thin omelette) and vegetable dumpling ramen. Nancy and Marilyn also went the udon route.

But the real entertainment of the evening had to be the fried bons ordered by Givemecarbs and Bottomless pit. The small meat, shrimp or scallop-stuffed mini-dumplings come with three grades of spicy sauce and are garnished with gossamer thin bonita flakes. We watched in amazement as the heat of the bons animated the bonita flakes into a playful ballet resembling creatures on a tide swept coral reef. After the bonita show, Givemecarbs and Bottomless pit scarfed the bons in record time before taking on a spicy chicken noodle soup. For desserts and beverages, the Break Time Coffee shop complemented several of our meals with a wide variety of bubble teas, exotic ice creams and smoothies needed to put down the lingering flames of Asian chili peppers.

When filled to the gills, several of us went shopping to collect bargains galore (e.g. four pounds of frozen 26-30 Tiger shrimp for $23), replenish staples at the lowest prices around and to just marvel at the variety of fresh fish, produce and products never before seen. Chuckles was thrilled to find fresh yamaimo – a Japanese mountain potato grown only on Hokkaido that he remembered from early childhood. He and Bob found so many items they wished they had brought a larger car.

In short, we all created a truly memorable evening, ate like royalty for very little and came away with some great finds and new friends.

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  1. What a fabulous night indeed! I actually went back to Assi yesterday to revisit the produce department. I am still amazed by the price of their lemons. 3 for .99. Although, lunch was not on my schedule, I couldn't resist another serving of the dumpling/ramen soup to help take the chill out of my day. I left with lots of vegetables, a full belly and the happy knowledge I truly got my money's worth!

    Chefpaulo, thanks for posting this delightful review of our evening. I am looking forward to seeing everyone again!

    1. I love this place...went yesterday, especially for their fish! BTW, there is a Korean BBQ place right around the bend in that plaza....have not tried it yet, but looks interesting.

      1. wow, this post should not be read on an empty stomach! sounds wonderful. just wondering - do you all have a google group/facebook group/email list set up for these things, and if so, can i get on it? :)

        2 Replies
        1. re: rabidog

          I took John to Assi Market and food court before our card tourney on friday. We went straight to the Yaki Bon hut and John got the sweet potato crisps with honey and cinnamon topping, bons filled with sticky rice and also crab ones, and we got the fish-shaped bean cakes made with sweet potato flour. You have to order five for 5.00 but they make them up fresh, the ones in the case are just for display. So good! We preferred the crab bons, John really loved them. Assi is so amazing we were almost late for our event, because John got a bubble tea and I got some pad thai sauce and sprouts and we were just mezmerized by all the bounty. John was telling everyone at the shop how great Assi is so they might get more explorers soon.

          1. re: givemecarbs

            went there yesterday and granted, the market is great, the food court, not so. Had a shrimp eggroll from Friends ( I think that's the name),, hot on the outisode, icy cold on the inside, Yuk! Threw it out and left. Sorry!

        2. I go to the market and food court at least once a week and leave there giddy!! That place is awesome. The fish and produce at the market are so fresh and the prices can't be beat. The food at the food court is also great ,but I would stick to what they are good at which is the Korean specialties and no frills sushi. Don't order Chinese or Mexican items (they actually sell mexican food at one of the Korean stands).

          1. WHAAA!!! Sob!! Sounds of weeping & gnashing of teeth, here. I could not attend the Assifest because of a prior commitment to attend the bi-annual Hungarian hurka & kolascz dinner at my friend's church in Phoenixville. As wonderful as it was, I would much rather have been with the intrepid eleven at Assi Plaza. I will go to sleep tonight with visions of bonito flakes dancing in my head.

            Chefpaulo, it sounds as though you did a great job organizing the outing, and it sounds as though culinary horizons were expanded. Shall we do another one? Judging by givemecarb's post, I think she' ready to run bus tours.

            2 Replies
            1. re: PattiCakes

              He he he! Let's do it! Maybe this time John can come too. They are up to seventy five percent off so his schedule looks free in the near future. He wants to get a bowl of that yummy ramen next time. Bottomless Pit tried the corn dog the very first time we went there. He knew it was a mistake, that is hardly their speciaity, but I think he is off corn dogs for life now. I had the beef teriyaki recently, it was a fifteen minute wait and well worth it.

              1. re: givemecarbs

                My husband had a bad experience with a corn dog more than 30 years ago on a boys-only road trip. Hasn't been able look took at them since. Actually, he prefers that people not even mention them in his presence.

                I am intriguiged by the whole concept of the bons -=- I'm not fan of the bonito flakes, but I'll give it a shot. The cold weather makes bowls of noodley things sound appealing as well.

            2. Sounds like I missed a great time. Hopefully we can get another group together soon. If anyone is interested, you can email me at xtownj@yahoo to get on the list.

              1 Reply
              1. re: xtownj

                We have finally picked a date for our next meeting: Sunday April 19th @6pm. We will meet in the food court which is the back right corner of the market. If you would like to join us or have any questions, you can email me: xtownj@yahoo.

              2. I highly recommend the mocha bread from the bakery. And the donut filled with red bean paste.

                6 Replies
                1. re: potroastcat

                  Potroastcat, if you like the donut filled with red bean paste, you should try the fish shaped cakes from the yaki bon hut. You have to buy five and they make them hot to order but dang are they tasty!

                  1. re: givemecarbs

                    What is inside the fish-shaped cakes? Is it fish? True confession here: I am not terribly fond of fish & tend to avoid it mostly (shrimp, scallops, crab & lobster are not fish).

                    1. re: PattiCakes

                      Hi Patti! They make them up fresh right in front of you, which was what kept me from ordering them before, I thought I had to take a premade one from the case. It is just a cake with red bean sauce as the filling. When the man made them for John and me he handed us each one fresh out of the little cake-maker. It is sort of like a mini waffle maker with five fish-shaped compartments. They are five for 5.00 and you have to buy five. What makes them special is that they are hot and fresh. When John bit into his cake with great gusto the bean filling went spurting everywhere.

                      1. re: givemecarbs

                        I get these at Mitsuwa Plaza in Edgewater whenever I'm up there. When they are warm they are out of this world!

                        1. re: givemecarbs

                          sounds like an Asian tamale. sorta. I gotta get there and try some.

                          1. re: PattiCakes

                            Oh, it's sweet red bean. :) Savory would be good too!

                  2. If I had a toque, I would doff it to you, Chefpaulo. You organized a grand evening. One jar I picked up on a whim that evening has become a real find. "Chinese Quince Tea", a marmalade like consistancy with slivers of quince rind. Instructions say take 2-3 teaspoons and put into boiling water to make tea. It is absolutly wonderful!!! Can't wait until the sumer to try it out cold with a bit of seltzer and a 'spirit' or 3.

                    Let's do it again; there are so many dishes in the food court that I want to share.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Chuckles52

                      Chuckles, where did you find the tea in the market?

                      1. re: PattiCakes

                        I am pretty sure it was on sale that night. It was on the end cap where all of the other teas are located.

                        1. re: crazyspice

                          It sounds like sonething that I'd really like. Thanks.

                      2. re: Chuckles52

                        That dish you shared with us was really good Chuckles! It even had fresh mussels in it. Don't forget to get back to us about that little striped melon! Thanks for pointing out the powdered honey too.

                        1. re: givemecarbs

                          Thank you for the kind words... Alas it wasn't me. I believe it was my friend Bob that discovered that wonderful seafood extravaganza.., My gawd, it was big enough to share with everyone!

                          Loking forward to the next time.

                      3. I was just there for my first time a few weeks ago!... I live in lancaster and we really dont have anything like it here........my favorite part was the larger bins of blue crabs that you could just grab and throw in a bag!.. no rubber bands around their claws or anything!... .. if you go back you have to go to the little hot food stand near the raw fish ... the guy there makes these delicious cake balls on a cast iron skillet with small circular molds... i got ones with crab inside and my friend got eel i believe... it was the most delicous and interesting thing i ever had!! just those were worth our trip!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: lochnessy52

                          Agreed lochnessy! Three of us lined up for the wonderful yaki bons and passed them around. The shrimp ones are my favorite. Later crazy bought five of the made to order fish-shaped bean cakes to share. Delicious! Did they reheat well crazyspice? I know one time I was at the hut some parents were buying the bean buns for their son as his big treat for making the honor roll they told me. Xtownj got the yummy sweet potato crisps to share and they got demolished fast too. I even managed to make my warhammer online gourmet friend jealous by gloating about the homemade ramen noodle soup at the food court. And trust me it is very hard to mention something that guy hasn't eaten.

                          1. re: givemecarbs

                            Hey Carbs! They reheated beautifully in my toaster oven wrapped in foil. I have been talking about the yaki bons non stop. I am getting the variety order next time I go.

                            1. re: crazyspice

                              Awesome crazyspice! The bons are sooo addicting. Maybe next time I'll get the crab ones.