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Looking for Ong Choy (aka Water Spinach, Ipomoea aquatica, Water Convolvulus, Kong Xing cai)

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Does anyone know whether any of the ethnic or Asian supermarkets in the area sell this extremely delicious veggie? Have not been able to find it at any of my local H-marts and GrandMarts (Gaithersburg area). I would love to get some and cultivate them in a pot on my balcony. Apparently they are considered invasive weeds, so it's illegal to import seeds acrosss state lines, but fine if receiving the grown veggie. Any help?

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  1. A restaurant on University Blvd in Wheaton whose name I never remember along with both Mark's Duck and XO Taste in Falls Church serve the vegetable so this is available somewhere. If you don't get an answer in this thread, I recommend you call these restaurants and ask this question of them. (The Wheaton restaurant is either in the same shopping center as a Judaica shop or it's one block to the east.)

    1. Chinese markets usually carry onchoy though some days they may be out of stock.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dpan

        Can you give me the name of specific markets? Specific Chinese markets that I've tried are New Asia, Maxim, and I don't remember the name, but it's the one located right by Maxim on North Washington and they never have it when I go.

        1. re: psychofan

          Kam Sen on North Washington. I'm more familiar with the ones in NoVA. Great Wall is in Merrifield on Gallows Rd, and they have a very large vegetable selection.

      2. It's also know as Morning Glory, and that's simple enough to grow just about anywhere!

        3 Replies
        1. re: baltoellen

          Geez, if it's the same thing in China as we know as morning glory around here, in a few weeks whoever wants some can pick it out of the headge along side my driveway. It won't go away (unless someone takes it away). <g>

          1. re: MikeR

            Not exactly the same as the garden variety morning glory. It falls under the general category, but it's not what one would expect to plant on the hedges. These have long arrow-shaped leaves like this

            http://www.wikihow.com/images/d/da/On...

            when stir-fried with garlic, it is amazingly tasty.

            Since the USDA label them as noxious weeds, one must have a permit for the interstate purchase and/or sale of the seeds which explains why I can't find them (although ebay has a couple of sellers of the seeds, but I don't want to risk a big USDA fine). The grown plants are permissible for interstate transport, which is why they can be ordered at many of the more authentic Chinese restaurants. They are extremely easy to cultivate - just stick in water or soil (with lots of moisture) and their roots will take hold quickly. They are also extremely susceptible to frost and will die easily if exposed.

            I may have to try my luck this weekend and bite the bullet and trek down to Harris Teeter on Penn as mentioned by scotcheroo.

            1. re: psychofan

              I actually once stayed somewhere in central Vietnam, where there was a huge field of morning glories, grown in something approaching a swamp. And, the flowers, at least, looked exactly like the morning glories we see 'round these parts.... (BTW, I learned of the veg as water spinach, and agree that it's mighty delish!)

        2. this is random, but I bought some of this at the Harris Teeter on Penn Ave. just last weekend. They had one tiny section of "chinese vegetables" - in addition to Onchoy they had long beans, bok choy, and chinese broccoli...
          They definitely don't carry this stuff all the time, so i don't know if there was something special going on or what.

          1. My cousin who just got back from Viet Nam tells me that it is called rau muong in Vietnamese. She said it was her favorite food she discovered there -- she has found a place to buy it in Columbus, Ohio! (I need to find some of this, too!)