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Jan 28, 2011 11:03 AM

Best place to buy Chinese ingredients in Pittsburgh area?

I'm especially looking for dried Facing Heaven chiles, but I also want things like Sichuan peppercorns, Shaoxing rice wine, chile bean paste...

Is there a good place in the strip district?


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  1. There is a place just across the alley from Wholleys on the samer side of the street....been there about 6-7 years. good selection

    1. Also check the other place at the opposite end of the strip on Penn Ave., across from the Firhouse Lounge. Between those two places you should find everything you need. The one down by Wholey's makes their tofu which I just tried for the first time. At $0.30 per square it's also really cheap!

      6 Replies
      1. re: Rick

        nver been to one by firehouse lounge... grocery next to wholleys has a large selection.. if they don't have they should be able to find..
        Are you allowed to buy s peppercorns in US now? .. knew there was once a ban , and never taste anything with them

        1. re: Augie6

          Szechuan peppercorns are legally sold in the US these days. The flavor is quite singular. They are well-worth seeking out, and should not be difficult to find. One dish that features them (and which you may well have tried) is ma po tofu. (I will stop before we get too far into Home Cooking territory.)

          1. re: PinchOfSalt

            Oh, take me into home cooking territory any day. LOLOL

            I always thought that the correct spelling was Szechuan, but this lovely recipe that I have to try spells it differently. I hope that isn't a sign. ;-D

            1. re: LRuthers

              the correct spelling is with characters, not letters. sichuan is an acceptable anglicization, probably used with the intent of getting Americans to pronounce things properly. The original trans from Chinese got Beijing==Peking, and other really screwball stuff.

                1. re: Chowrin

                  四川 or Sichuan; in the Pinyin Romanization system developed in mainland China in the 1950's and now the universal standard. Chinese does not have an alphabet.

                  It replaces Wade-Giles (1867) and the Yale (WWII) Romanization systems.

                  Beijing 北京 was once known as Peking because the first foreigners in China learned Cantonese and so used the Cantonese pronunciation of 北京!

                  Hongkong is the same. It is the Cantonese pronounciation for Xiang Gang or 香港。

        2. Good advice from nyfoodjoe and Rick. The place by Wholey's is called Lotus Foods, but I can't remember the name of the place down by Firehouse Lounge. Between the two, though, I've always been able to find the various Chinese ingredients I need.

          1 Reply
          1. re: MonMauler

            Thanks to everyone. I see a trip to the strip in my future...

          2. The place across from the Firehouse Lounge is called WFH Oriential Food Market. They have a good selection as well as Lotus Market next to Wholeys.


            5 Replies
            1. re: Burghfeeder

              Thanks loads! I've written this all down.

              Now, I'm going to look for more recipes so I can make the trip really worthwhile! ;-D

              1. re: LRuthers

                stop by penzeys

                and visit tigers and strawberries blog -- she's got a whole post or two on Chinese pantry items.

                1. re: Chowrin


                  I found this, too.


                  And I've emailed friends to plan a day trip. ;-D

                  1. re: LRuthers

                    Have a great time! I know that you are interested in Chinese, but if you have the chance make sure to stop at Wholeys and Pennsylvania Macaroni. The cheese selection is tremendous!