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Asian grocery or supermarkets in Boston area?

Lieber78 Sep 10, 2011 06:41 AM

I am a recent transplant to the Boston area from the San Francisco Bay area. I just unpacked my beloved hot pot, but have no idea where to buy any of the delicious ingredients it requires. Does anyone have any recommendations for an Asian supermarket? (For any other ex-Bay Area-ers something along the lines of 99 Ranch would be a dream!). I live in Fort Point, so something actually in Chinatown would be really convenient, but I'm willing to drive and fill up the freezer if that is what it takes!

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  1. f
    Fort Point Sep 10, 2011 06:57 AM

    There is a good sized C Mart at 109 Lincoln St. near South Station. In addition there are many markets in Chinatown which is a short walk from Fort Point. Chinatown is not that big a exploratory walk around it will help you find what you are looking for.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Fort Point
      kobuta Sep 10, 2011 08:56 AM

      The newest C Mart also on the same street as Ming's (below) on Washington St is bigger and nicer, though the South Station store certainly has good options too).

      While there is some cross-over to Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai, Malay, Korean and Japanese items in the stores mentioned here, the primary focus of the Chhinatown stores is for Chinese cooking. If you want a greater breadth in selection, you need to hit some of the smaller specialty stores that cater to those ethnicities.

      Within Chinatown are several C-Marts, Sun Sun on Oxford St, Chung Wah Hong on Beach, to See Sun Market on Harrison Ave. For a larger supermarket experience with a focus on Chinese groceries and some international is Kam Man in Quincy or the bigger Hong Kong Market at the South Bay Center (off Andrew Sq station on the red line).

      In Cambridge you have Lotte Market, a small store focused on Korean and some Japanese, on Mass Ave. There's supposed to be a new Japanese market on Mass Ave in Porter Square called Miso, but I haven't visited yet. There are also an Indian market in Central Square too whose name is escaping me. These are all readily T accessible.

      In Union Square is Reliable Market with more Korean and Japanese goods - this one not so T accessible, but connects via bus, and has a good selection of products.

      1. re: kobuta
        threedogs Sep 10, 2011 09:17 AM

        Great list, kobuta! I forgot about Reliable Market - I was in there a couple of months ago & was able to get some sesame oil at a great price - also fermented black bean paste (without other stuff added to it, which I don't like). I usually buy the fermented beans by themselves, but haven't been able to find them in the stores I've been going to recently, so this was great find for me.

        I forgot about the store over at the South Bay Center - it's been years since I've been there. Haven't been to Kam Man or the Burlington H-Mart yet, but hope to visit both when I can.

        1. re: threedogs
          bella_sarda Sep 16, 2011 12:22 PM

          Hey threedogs---where in Reliable did you find the plain fermented black bean paste and what did the label look like? I've looked for it there and couldn't find it. Sometimes the labels have no English translations so it can be hard to tell. On one visit I wound up buying a spicy black bean paste which was OK but not what my recipe called for. I guess I could just ask the owners.

          1. re: bella_sarda
            threedogs Sep 16, 2011 12:56 PM

            It's way over in the section where they have fish - so, coming in through the front door, you would go left & then walk through to the other section, as far as you can go. The shelf is facing that farthest wall on the left (I remember going past the bags of rice).

            The one I bought (there were several) is by Wang (fortunately I still have some - lots - left). It's a short, wide jar, 1.1 lbs & only cost $3.19 when I bought it! Awesome stuff - makes me way too lazy to even buy the plain fermented beans now, lol.

            By putting on two pairs of my reading glasses (lol) I could make out the teeny print & saw that they have a website (wangfood.com) but I couldn't find it there. Instead, I found this photo to help you: http://www.kimsasianmarket.com/produc...

            I think they had other brands of fermented black bean paste there. Was just the luck of the draw, basically.

            1. re: threedogs
              bella_sarda Sep 17, 2011 12:39 PM

              thanks, threedogs. this is incredibly helpful! you've gone above and beyond the call of duty. I'll be sure to find it next time I'm at Reliable Market.

              1. re: bella_sarda
                threedogs Sep 17, 2011 08:15 PM

                Glad I could help!

        2. re: kobuta
          owades Sep 11, 2011 12:45 PM

          The Indian market you referred to in Central Square, Cambridge is Shalimar India Food & Spices (http://shalimarindianfoods.com/) at 571 Mass Ave; in the back of which is the restaurant Dosa Factory.

          1. re: owades
            threedogs Sep 11, 2011 01:15 PM

            I find their prices (for what I was looking for, at least) are higher than the Waltham India Market on Moody St. (in Waltham, of course). Of course, the one in Waltham is much bigger - there's the food court downstairs, too, although I haven't eaten there (yet).

            I purchased a 10lb bag of whole wheat flour for chapati, which I used to make the best sandwich bread I've made in a long time. Very good quality. They also have a butcher in back - I've only purchased boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but they were great (think they were $2.19 lb, or close to that).

            They have fruits & veggies, but I really prefer the amazing quality of Russo's - or Arax market here in Watertown, for that.

            Waltham India Market
            393 Moody St, Waltham, MA 02453

            1. re: threedogs
              nasilemak Sep 13, 2011 05:05 AM

              There is a small Japanese grocery store on the last block on newbury st.(close to mass ave.), called Cherry Blossoms i think. The markups on the items are quite high so it's a kinda a last resort / shoppers who don't have time in that area.

              Cherry Blossom
              80 Union St, Ashland, MA 01721

              1. re: nasilemak
                Allstonian Sep 13, 2011 05:11 AM

                Cherry Mart, actually.

                Along similar lines, there's also Japan Village Mart in Brookline Village (200 Washington Street.)

      2. Dave MP Sep 10, 2011 07:00 AM

        I like Ming's, which is on Washington Street, just south of where it crosses the Pike. Right on the silver line, but you can drive there too.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Dave MP
          threedogs Sep 10, 2011 07:38 AM

          Is Ming's the store on the same street as the former Super 88? I am terrible with noticing names (a lifelong bad habit that does not go well with an aging mind, lol).

          1. re: threedogs
            lc02139 Sep 10, 2011 07:53 AM

            yes washington street, just over the pike from chinatown proper

        2. c
          czarp Sep 10, 2011 07:19 AM

          There is Hong Kong supermarket in Allston, right where Commonwealth and Brighton Ave fork. (It still has the signage of the predecessor market, Super 88.) Some nice food stalls in the front of the store -- ramen, bebimbap, etc.

          The biggest asian supermarket around is H-Mart, in Burlington.

          3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

          6 Replies
          1. re: czarp
            Bellachefa Sep 10, 2011 07:23 AM

            When you make the trip to HMart you should also make a stop at Russo's which offers great selection of asian fruits and veggies.

            1. re: Bellachefa
              tammyh Sep 13, 2011 02:22 PM

              ditto on Russo's. I've seen Asian produce there that I've never seen at other Asian marts before (and I've grown up around tons of them ... I'm an ex-Bay-Area person, too).

              however for something like Ranch 99, H-Mart is similar in terms of cleanliness but has mostly Korean groceries for obvious reasons. Ming's and Kam Man both take the cake in variety of Chinese groceries, IMO.

              but do not expect to find anything to be truly like Ranch 99 here. as an aside, I don't know if you chuckled at the "Super 88" name the way I did ...

              3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

              1. re: tammyh
                galangatron Sep 14, 2011 07:21 AM

                what asian produce have you seen at russo's that you haven't seen at any asian markets?

                1. re: galangatron
                  tammyh Sep 14, 2011 12:13 PM

                  things like kaffir lime leaves, raw/unprocessed bamboo shoots, lemon basil, sweet asian basil, etc. generally things I'd love to use someday, but wouldn't know how to use unless I come across a recipe calling for it.

                  grocers in the dot/quincy area may have these things for all I know--I'm usually north of the River.

                  1. re: tammyh
                    galangatron Sep 15, 2011 06:59 AM

                    you can find all those things at the vietnamese markets in dorchester and the cambodian markets in revere and lowell. the only exception is kaffir lime leaves. they aren't available all the time but they do have them on occasion

                    1. re: galangatron
                      threedogs Sep 15, 2011 08:31 AM

                      I used to find kaffir lime leaves (actually purchased some there, then didn't know what to do with them, lol - ended up moving shortly afterward & had no time to research) at one of the markets in Lynn - near Mitteheap. I don't live in the area now, but it's the one w/a side door, and lots of veggies. Used to like getting a bahn mi now & then there, too - when I timed it right, before they ran out.

                      Now I'm closer to Russo's, which I love - but I'll take the T in town (Chinatown) for my asian veggies. The one near South Station has bags marked down, too. Sometimes I hit it right & can get something that's not too far gone for a good price there.

          2. l
            Lieber78 Sep 10, 2011 07:24 AM

            Thanks guys for your quick replies. I think I will spend my first weekend as a Bostonian exploring these. I will let you know what I find.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Lieber78
              Bellachefa Oct 14, 2011 02:12 PM

              a visit back with your thoughts would seem appropriate considering you posted once and replied once. would love to know your thoughts on what you have found from the many recomendations.

            2. threedogs Sep 10, 2011 07:31 AM

              I've never been to San Francisco (sad to say) but I have a feeling you won't find anything here quite the same. It all depends if you have a car, or say, intend to get something like a Zipcar for transportation: as mentioned, the C-Mart in Burlington is the newest of all of them - I haven't been there, but do a search here & you'll find many threads on it.

              I seldom do my shopping by car these days, so the one I prefer, (haven't been there in awhile, though) is the former Super 88 market, now also a C-Mart, right outside of Chinatown. I just discovered that the Silver Line (which is actually a bus) goes right by it, so I intend to start shopping there now.

              I thought the address was Essex St., but I did a search on Yelp and they give the address as 50 Herald St. Someone correct this if it's wrong, please!

              The last time I went there I was impressed with the cleanliness & huge selection. The C Mart near South Station is convenient to me (referred to as "C-Mart 2" on Yelp), because I can walk over there from the Downtown Crossing subway station in a few minutes, but the selection is much smaller than the other one. Their parking lot, if driving, is larger than most around Boston, but at busy times it gets difficult to find a space.

              Personally, I would not recommend the grocery store in Allston (formerly Super 88 - still has that sign out front) for groceries - they have a food court that has some great food - especially the Bahn Mi at Pho Viet), but the grocery store is a sad shadow of it's former self. This is the Hong Kong Supermarket mentioned...

              2 Replies
              1. re: threedogs
                beetlebug Sep 10, 2011 07:41 AM

                Quick clarification to threedogs' post.

                H Mart is the one in Burlington, not CMart. CMart has a number of branches in Chinatown.

                1. re: beetlebug
                  threedogs Sep 10, 2011 07:46 AM

                  Thank you, beetlebug!! Old-timer's fogs my brain, lol.

              2. C. Hamster Sep 10, 2011 08:07 AM

                I don't know if you have H Marts in SF, but the " H" stands for "Han" so there is an emphasis on Korean products, but they have everything. And give out so many free samples you can eat lunch while you shop. It's a scene on weekends.

                Our favorite go-to Asian superstore is Kam Man in Quincy, a very easy drive for you. Its newly remodeled and includes a large food market, prepared foods and bakery, a junk store and a little mini mall. Absolutely worth a trip.

                1 Reply
                1. re: C. Hamster
                  qianning Sep 10, 2011 07:46 PM

                  I shop all of the above mentioned markets for various things, when it comes to hard to find Chinese ingredients, Kam Man is definitely the best in the area. For hard to find Southeast Asian ingredients either the Cambodian stores on Shirley Ave in Revere, or the various Cambodian groceries in Lowell are usually the best bet. For Korean, and sometimes Japanese ingredients, and thinly sliced hot pot meats, H-Mart is excellent, although often pricey. Ming's & C-Mart are good all around sources, although with slightly less variety within any given category, but a lot closer to Fort Point.

                  3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

                2. atg106 Sep 11, 2011 04:12 AM

                  I would like to second H-Mart as your first location as they have so so many many things to choose from. Aside from being my primary Asian supermarket, it is my primary butcher as it has many cuts of meat (beef, pork, lamb, chicken, fish, seafood) much more than any of the local supermarkets and the price is dramatically less.

                  3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

                  1. digga Sep 11, 2011 06:12 PM

                    I live about 10 min away from H-Mart and it scares me. I consider it the Wal-Mart of Asian markets and I fear it will make things tough for the Korean mom-and-pops. I try to go to Han-Ah-Rheum in North Cambridge on Mass Ave or Reliable in Union Sq, Somerville as much as I can instead of H-Mart. When I'm on the other side of the river, I hit up Mirin in Allston on Harvard St. As you are in FP, Chinatown must have many options that will keep you busy enough than to have to resort to H-Mart.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: digga
                      C. Hamster Sep 11, 2011 07:11 PM

                      Arent Han-Ah-Rheum and HMart owned by the same company?

                      That's the case on the ny/NJ area.

                      1. re: C. Hamster
                        Jenny Ondioline Sep 11, 2011 07:29 PM

                        No, they're not. The confusion is that HMart started as a grocery chain in NY/NJ called Han-Ah-Rheum (basically Korean for "armload of groceries"), but the Cambridge store of similar name is unrelated to the chain that became HMart.

                      2. re: digga
                        smtucker Sep 13, 2011 04:44 PM

                        I shop at the reliable as much as I can. Love having this market in the city, close by, and live in fear that H-Mart will put it out of business. Since H-Mart opened, the parking lot on weekends is much less crowded.

                        3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

                        1. re: digga
                          y2000k Oct 14, 2011 11:06 AM

                          I just found out that the mom-and-pop Korean market in Waltham, Dae Han, has closed. I'm so very sad as the store is very close to where I live and I really like the proprietors.

                          Does anyone know if there are similar Korean markets nearby (Waltham, Newton, Watertown)? I have zero desire to drive all the way to H Mart.

                          1. re: y2000k
                            qianning Oct 14, 2011 12:33 PM

                            that was a nice little store. h-mart is really wreaking havoc with the smaller korean groceries.

                            1. re: y2000k
                              saulblum Oct 14, 2011 08:46 PM

                              Yep, I live a few blocks away, and it closed several months ago. I wasn't surprised: it was never busy when I went in there. I don't know of any comparable markets nearby. For the few types of products where Dae Han overlapped with Waltham India Market, e.g. coconut milk, I found the latter to be cheaper.

                              Waltham India Market
                              393 Moody St, Waltham, MA 02453

                          2. galangatron Sep 12, 2011 08:31 AM

                            in addition to the markets mentioned above, there are also some good vietnamese markets along dot ave in dorchester. noteably phu cuong market and truong thinh supermarket

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: galangatron
                              Swankalicious Sep 19, 2011 05:56 PM

                              Sir Swank and I go to H Mart about once per month. Great selection of kim chi, marinated meats, and interesting/well-priced fish. There's also a bustling food court with a very good sushi place.

                              1. re: galangatron
                                qianning Nov 13, 2011 09:01 AM

                                Embarrassed to admit we finally made our first visit to the Vietnamese section of Dot Ave last weekend. Some great hard to find items there. Although we don't cook Vietnamese food often enough to make the trek often now, I think once Kam Man opens in South Bay this could change. It would really up the ante if I could get South East Asian and Chinese groceries in the same weekend trip! Of course, this is assuming Kam Man doesn't do to the little Vietnamese stores what H-Mart has done to the smaller Korean and Japanese and SEA groceries in the Northern/Western suburbs.

                              2. threedogs Sep 30, 2011 02:05 PM

                                This is for those of us who may be confused as to what some items are in our local C-Mart, H-Mart, etc. I was actually thinking of buying a book (researched & came up w/a couple) w/photos of Asian veggies I might not be familiar with. This was after I bought something & just could not figure out what it was, or how to use it, lol.

                                Well, one of my favorite blogs is Viet World Kitchen - Andrea Nguyen, the author, has put together an app (yep, there's now an app for that!) which looks great: http://tiny.cc/wjyah The url was way too long so I did the'tiny url' thing - or you can just go to vietworldkitchen.com find it there. It's the Asian Market Shopper app (iTunes).

                                Now I def need to plan to get a smart phone! I love going to Chinatown & doing my shopping there, but I'm often at a loss as to what the different ingredients are - and if I can use them.

                                1. d
                                  davidcaldw Nov 26, 2011 09:47 PM

                                  I've just moved to Porter sq and noticed that a brain new Japanese supermarket has opened in the area (next to Porter square t-station)

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: davidcaldw
                                    lipoff Nov 27, 2011 08:28 AM

                                    If you're talking about the new Miso Market, it's about two and a half blocks north of the Porter Square T stop, and so not in the former Kotobukiya location in the Porter Exchange Mall. Miso Market is very nice indeed, with lots of helpful English signs that explain what some of the more esoteric items are.

                                    1. re: lipoff
                                      C. Hamster Nov 27, 2011 11:55 AM

                                      Just drove by it an hour ago. Couldn't tell what it was but I'm looking forward to visiting.

                                      1. re: lipoff
                                        davidcaldw Mar 2, 2012 05:30 PM

                                        yes, that's the name ! they have an interesting choice of drinks too.

                                        1. re: davidcaldw
                                          lipoff Mar 2, 2012 07:41 PM

                                          They also have a very wide variety of yuzu-flavored products, including terrific yuzu juice (not the salty yuzu juice that is more commonly available) in the refrigerated case at the very back left of the restaurant. It's something like $16 for a relatively small bottle (although yuzu is so strongly flavored a little goes a long way), but that's actually quite reasonable for yuzu!

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