nuts from chinatown groceries
I'm looking for the best-priced good quality nuts (walnuts, almonds mostly, but also others ex. peanuts) -- so far trader joe's walnut pieces seem to be best priced, but I was wondering if the nuts sold in chinatown (hong kong supermarket etc.) are comparable or even cheaper.
what other not specifically asian items are chinatown markets good for?
Chinatown supermarkets have a lot of really cheap produce - better prices than Gristedes on carrots, onions, peppers, etc. They also carry a standard array of orange juice and probably the best prices on rice anywhere. I would also look at some of the canned items if you like canned fruits. In general, I would say that the prices at Chinatown supermarkets are better than the major supermarket chains.
Many supermarkets also sell meat and fish at very reasonable prices, both fresh and frozen. It's a great place to go if you want a whole fish or a bunch of drumsticks.
I can't speak for the other nuts in specific but there are some really tasty roasted peanuts in full shell at the supermarkets in plastic bags, reasonably priced.
Walnuts and almonds are about the same price as TJ's - I tend to buy at TJ's but have also bought them many times in Chinatown. Nice and fresh. I also buy pork tenderloin in Chinese butcher shops - fresh, not cryovac. Maggi/Knorr broth cubes are also cheaper than in supermarkets,
I haven't had problems with any Ctown pine nuts (they certainly look the same as the Italian ones, would expect they are from the same type of pine tree) - some others here have so if buying from bulk bins, try to taste one. Some of the other things I've bought from the stores are very nice dishes and serving pieces (mostly of Japanese manufacture) and cooking utensils - including the best ever fine mesh skimmer I've ever seen, for under $2.00.
One word of caution if buying nuts in Chinatown, especially in bulk. Store in freezer bags in the fridge or freezer to keep fresh and discourage the growth of pests. Some years ago I bought bargain cashews in Chinatown that must have contained tiny larvae that grew into winged insects that infested all my cabinets and flew all around my kitchen. Not sure if some of the items available in Chinatown are subject to the same scrutiny as more commercially available nuts, such as at Trader Joe's, where I now buy them and they are plenty cheap.