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Feb 3, 2011 05:18 AM

New Asian Big Box Grocery in Durham

Does anyone know when Li's Grocery (I think) is opening or if it indeed opened today? It is in the former Circuit City location in Durham near their Super Target.

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    He hoped to have the store open by Chinese New Year, which I think is today.

    1 Reply
    1. re: romansperson

      Right I knew there was another thread on the topic and I saw the post in the paper which is why my initial post stated if it was indeed opening today.

    2. I was in the area last night and drove by to check it out. From the street it looks open - fully lit, sign and all, but it looks like they have a ways to go when you peek in the doors/windows. It didn't see any fixtures install yet... Can't wait though!

      1. I poked my head in a couple of days ago. It looks close to completion, but there is no food on the shelves yet whatsoever. But it looks like it's going to be huge and impressive.

        6 Replies
        1. re: durhamois

          Wonderful to hear I hope it lasts as long as Grand Asia has and that it is successful! Maybe adds to what you can get at your local Asian restaurant.

          1. re: durhamois

            Wonderful news. There were things I couldn't find at Grand Asia. Won't be so sad when its a closer job, and heck, it sounds like maybe I'll even find them! Very excited.

            1. re: LulusMom

              What sort of things? If I couldn't find something there, I'd have to give up or maybe it was one of the few items that didn't have any English on it. Just kidding of course, but curious as to what you were looking for.

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                Are you familiar with Fuschia Dunlop's cookbooks (if you're not, I highly recommend them)? There are a couple of items from those that I was looking for and I even asked for them. Still no luck. I believe salted chilies (which should have been easy) was one of the items. I am away from home right now and don't have the books/my list with me, so can't tell you what else they didn't have.

          2. I just called the Raleigh store (A&C Supermarket). They told me the new Durham store may open on the 17th or 18th.

            1 Reply
            1. re: boaviagem

              Excellent! I hope they succeed and live long (and prosper).

            2. I stopped by after work yesterday. I was told the grocery portion of the store will be open on Thursday! The restaurant will have a later opening.

              There were a lot of items on the shelves and live fish (tilapia?) in one of the tanks in the back.
              The store looks really nice. I'll be back there on Thursday.

              8 Replies
              1. re: boaviagem

                Thanks for letting us know! I'll look forward to a review since I won't get there before Friday.

                1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                  it's big and it's clean. it still seems somewhat empty with large areas around the front of the store left open and empty especially near the checkout aisles. there is a little too much mainstream packaged western food like frozen pizza, ice cream, peanut butter, jam and cleaning supplies. i think any wise consumer could just as easily go down the street and shop at target for those things.

                  the meat/poultry section still seems a little green. it was mostly basic beef, pork and poultry. i didn't see any fancier offerings at usual big asian megamarts like black chicken, lamb, gizzards, tongue, heart or anything like that yet. i think it's just a matter of time before all this shows up.

                  the seafood section looks extremely promising but is still lacking the variety of grand asia. the live lobster and dungeness crab are priced more competitively than grand asia, however. they had some nice looking razor, cherrystone and manila clams too. it would be nice to see more varieties of shrimp but i'm sure that will change soon. it might be too much to ask for but it would be fantastic to see a little fridge filled with sliced and unsliced sashimi like a neighborhood japanese shop in a big city. maybe i can find mr. li ming himself and give him a piece of my mind! :)

                  the produce section didn't have huge depth to it but everything did look fresh and the prices were comparable with grand asia. no significantly exotic fruits and veggies (yet?). lots of oranges, apples, pineapples, bananas.

                  before i got there, i was most excited about the cafeteria offerings. it looks like all they have is the "pick 3 entrees with rice" deal. it's $5.49 which is very competitive but they still need some fine tuning. i had some black bean "chitlins," bbq chicken, fried fish and ham hocks. the only think i liked were the black bean chitlins. everything else was pretty standard and perhaps average or slightly below in seasoning, taste and texture. i think they should bolster and improve their offerings within a few more weeks. also, next to the cafeteria area, there is a sign that says there is a bakery on it's way. judging from the looks of how there is not even a display stand, display or baking supplies in the kitchen, i'm guessing this is at least a month away.

                  overall, it's a good start. i think it's still a good month away from seeing and tasting it's true potential. it'd be nice to see some made to order foods like noodle soup, stir-fried proteins and bubble tea. but until then, i'll still be frequenting grand asia for pretty much everything else.

                  1. re: whiteonyellow

                    Thanks for the early report. I only got to drive by late yesterday to confirm they had opened.

                    I want to get some razor clams for home cooking, They were featured in the NY Times food section this week

                    Is there someplace in the Triangle that has better live lobter prices than Grand Asia?

                    1. re: boaviagem

                      $9.99 a pound for live lobster is pretty good. sometimes, i see it at $10.99/lb at grand asia. generally, they keep the smaller variety at chinese grocery stores. it's hard to find the whopper 3 - 4 lb versions and those are usually much more expensive anyway and hard to find live. when whole foods used to sell lobster, it was routinely over $17.99 a pound.

                      my friend vacations in the keys and rents a boat. when he goes, he's allowed to catch something like 6 lobsters per person per day. i think they essentially eat an all lobster diet for 1 week for the price of an airplane ticket and boat ride. :)

                      razor clams should be less than $6-7/lb. all the ones i tapped on yesterday looked quite live and fresh.

                      1. re: whiteonyellow

                        How should a live and fresh razor clam respond when you tap on it?

                        We went to the store today. We bought a few things. We're looking forward to the bakery and seeing more produce. They had some really nice looking ginger and mandioca (cka cassava or yuca) in the produce area.

                        1. re: boaviagem

                          I think they're supposed to slightly close when tapped, but maybe that is only mussels.

                          1. re: boaviagem

                            We got a few knick knacks as far as food goes, but I wish we knew more about the foods so we could go in an know what to buy instead of being giddy and saying this looks interesting lets eat it. I mean that is fun too but can lead to money waste.

                      2. re: whiteonyellow

                        Thanks for a really full report. Very much appreciated.