Favorite Asian Grocery Store in St. Paul?
I know this has been discussed but it seems there have been a lot of changes, so I thought I'd check--what is the best Asian grocery store in St. Paul? Variety, cleanliness, convenience, etc.
These days I've been going to Dragon Star. I used to go to Shuang Hur but after being disappointed several times I switched. There may be better places, but I haven't had need to look.
I like Dragon Star. They have a much more extensive produce selection than United Noodle, although United Noodle is certainly much better for Japanese and Korean items. United Noodle is the cleanest Asian market I have been to in the the Twin Cities. I haven't been too impressed with Double Dragon or Shuang Hur.
Dragon Star, United Noodle and Kim's on Snelling in St. Pau and Dong Yang in Columbia Heights (or is it Hilltop?). Each has things the other doesn't. Kim's has a great selection or frozen dumplings, Dong Yang has a bigger selection of fish cake. Dragon Star is great for Japanese and Indonesian while Dragon Star has a better deal of produce and fish.
638 Snelling Ave N, Saint Paul, MN 55104
Misterpatrick makes an excellent point: the best store is the one that has what I want. My experience is that the St. Paul stores generally have some specialty -- Kim's for Korean, phil.oriental for Filipino, Dragon Star and Double Dragon for produce variety and just about any part of an animal that can be butchered, Shuang Hur for produce quality, Sun for extensive frozen food and lots more non-food than most stores, ...
I seem to spend most of my Asian-grocery-shopping time at Kim's and Dragon Star, but I'm all over the place. :-)
re: shoo bee doo
Well, most of that is in my original post: Kim's for Korean and maybe the best selection of Japanese food short of making the trip to United Noodle. phil carries stuff for Filipino cooking that -- well, if it's in some of the other stores, I haven't seen it. Sun seems to concentrate more on Hmong/Lao/Cambodian food than the others (not surprising considering the restaurant inside).
Most of the stores offer good produce, but Dragon Star and Double Dragon are each the size of small supermarkets and offer much more of a selection (Sun and Shuang Hur, and then Ha Tien and Kim's, IMHO, are good, too, but down the list as far as variety). Dragon Star has a fish/meat counter and that's besides packages of just about every part of every animal.
I really can't recommend grocery items because I'm pretty much driven by whatever the recipe calls for. IIRC Shuang Hur had a much better price on peanut oil last time I needed to buy a jug; some of the other stores and the co-op didn't even carry it (maybe too spendy for them to let it sit *shrug*). Kim's is one of the few reliable sources I've found for konnyaku. Specific varieties or brands of fish sauce or soy sauce may call for visiting a couple of stores. But that's the fun of exploring!
shoo bee doo, I'd find some more adventurous Asian recipes (maybe search the Web for blogs by people from those countries or visit newspaper Web sites for those countries and see if they link to recipes). Or if you consider yourself a really good cook, you can just pick up something that looks interesting and ask the people behind the counter how to prepare it (that works very well for me at the Farmer's Market, too). If it helps, I still run into items and wonder what you do with them (someday I'll remember a pad and paper and will write the names down for later investigation).
Most of these stores sell some prepared foods, prepackaged. While the notion of some of these sitting at room temperature all day makes me pause a minute, I've seen it too often to think anyone is flouting the law. And, of the items I've tried, I've never gotten sick, so I guess it's OK.
The usual caveats apply about making sure the food you buy is in good condition. Avoid the dented cans and dirty jars (dust is OK, though) and the frozen food that looks like it spent a year in a snowbank. Produce should look fresh even if it is from halfway around the world. Check dates if you can; some stores don't seem to be very vigilant about clearing the old stuff off shelves or frozen-food chests.
I used to live in Falcon Heights, and whenever I need Asian staples, Dragon Star would be my first choice for some groceries, Asian veggies, and some Thai curries and other pastes and sauces. Sun Foods and Shuang Hur would be my second choice. If I want to buy some ready-to-eat food, then I would go to Ha Tien, and also Sun Foods.
Now I spend most of my times in Brooklyn Park. Sun Foods in Brooklyn Center would be my choice for my Thai items and some veggies. I used to go to United Noodle for Japanese/ Korean items, but their prices keep going up, so now I only go to Seoul Foods and Dong Yang for those items. Pooja Groceries is a to-go place to buy nice Indian chutneys and some frozen roti.