Where to buy a wok & Asian cooking staples in Paris
- juliemarie8 May 19, 2012 02:31 PM
Asian is my favorite type of cuisine, but I rarely cook Asian recipes at home (except for Thai curry), and I want to start doing this on a regular basis. Any suggestions on where to buy a wok in Paris? The 13th seems like an obvious area to head to, but I'm just not familiar with any of the stores.
I'd like to get a wok first and eventually a rice steamer if I can find one that's not too expensive.
I also plan to visit an Asian grocery store within the week to stock up on the basics for cooking at home. I'm planning to stick to healthy versions of stir fry, Thai dishes, soups, and rice noodles. Any suggestions for must-have staples would be greatly appreciated as well!
Thanks for your help!
Tang Freres is the13eme is the best spot. It is very big and well stocked so good for a one stop shop for ingredients and hardware like Wok's and Steamers. The shops around there may be better for fresh veggies etc but I would suggest getting started with Tang then branching out.
My advice on buying staples is to get a couple of good books and simply buy for each recipe, but buy things like light and dark soy, fish sauce, bean sauce etc in medium sizeed containers as they are staples. Do note that Chinese and Thai use quite different ingredients so you tend to build up different sets of base ingredients. And unless you plan to make your own coconut cream and milk (which is always best but labour intensive) from fresh coconut buy tins of cream and milk in bulk if you see them cheap. If cooking Thai do make your own pastes don't use commercial ones - it makes a real difference.
I see from another thread that you are in the 15th so the Tang Frères branch on the rue Labrouste off the rue Vouillé (that links the rue Convention and the rue Alésia) might be more convenient. Especially if you are on or near the #62, 89, or 95 bus routes. And make a little detour to le Grand Pan on the nearby rue Rosenwald for lunch.
For an education in Japanese product and housewares, if not to buy out the shop, Isse Workshop on St. Augustin in 2e is imperative. Japanese product, kitchen and tableware you never knew you needed.
On a hot and steamy summer morning, the beautiful hostess set up a table on the sidewalk for us, bringing bottle after bottle in each category of soy, vinegar and fruit wine where she described each as we tasted. Some of the vinegars are literally drinkable, certainly when cut with mineral water. Many of the products are seldom available elsewhere.
Tang is actually not very good for housewares and cooking utensils. Not a lot of choice. Note that the cookware and china section in the large avenue d'Ivry store is located to the right, separate from the larger food section. It is interesting for some chinaware from China that other stores do not carry (like nice Jingdezhen-like china double boilers), but is meh for woks (look out for nice Thai-made knives though).
Paristore (a few steps from the big Tang towards the porte d'Ivry, on the same sidewalk) has a large, very interesting upstairs section with plenty of cookware and china, some Japanese food items, votive stuff and lots of unexpected junk which is fun to browse through. Good choice of woks.
When it comes to woks and cookware, though, I'd rather look in stores that specialize in that.
Kawa (avenue de Choisy, halfway between rue de Tolbiac and the porte de Choisy) is one. It has the largest choice of woks: traditional, two-handled, one-handled, nonstick, etc.
Other very interesting places are pure cookware wholesalers who also sell retail. These can be found in the small streets connecting avenue d'Ivry and avenue de Choisy (there's a couple on rue des Frères-d'Astier-de-La-Vigerie, take a look, they have tons of stuff and also some interesting kitchen gadgets like Benriner slicers, Global knives...).
Other Chinese cookware stores are also located around boulevard de Belleville, boulevard Vincent-Auriol and boulevard de La Chapelle, but I've only seen them from the outside. They look large and well stocked, catering to professionals.
Kawa is very well stocked and pro. All the Chinese restaurateurs go there.
There is also a well stocked store - is it a branch of Kawa? I go there regularly but never look at the store name - on the intersection of Ricahrd Lenoir and Jean-Pierre Timbaud.
Rice-steamer. Do you mean rice-cooker? That's everywhere in every Chinese store, from the 13th to Belleville to rue au Maire to Marx Dormoy to the Asian stores on Place Maubert, and the Japanese and Korean stores on rue Ste Anne.
I hadn't seen the rice steamer part: you'll find a good rice steamer in all the mentioned places, but the best source is the upper floor of Exo-Store (avenue de Choisy, facing the school between rue Caillaux and rue de la Vistule). A large stock, good prices. You'll also find the best source for rice on the same floor.
As for cooking staples all the bigger stores are good. I can't say which one, from Paristore or Tang, is the better. They do not exactly have the same choice though and I often find myself visiting one then the other to get everything I need. For fruit and vegetables, nothing beats Exo-Store and Big Store (same owners), with very fresh Thai imports, respectively on avenue de Choisy and avenue d'Ivry. Dong-nam and Europasie on avenue de Choisy are smaller, but excellent stores.
But if you're looking for coriander with the roots on, that will be at Tang but not all the time. If you're looking for the best longans, Big Store or Exo-Store are better. If you're looking for a good choice of Japanese products in the 13th, go to Exo-Store or the upper floor of Paristore, etc. That sort of things. The meat market at the big Tang is awesome, but there's a long wait (with ticket).
Agree with the need to shop around for ingredients as the supplies are often inconsistent from shop to shop and Tang (like a lot of Asian supermarkets) won't have the best woks etc. But if you are just starting a steel wok from a supermarket that you season well is a good cheap entry point. Once Juile gets the bug then maybe good to expand the utensils and quality of utensils. That said in my experience woks are one of the few pieces of kitchen equipment where the cheapest can be as good if not better than expensive ones. Light is often better thn heavy as it is easier to move it around the stove.
Of course cheap steel woks are the best. That is just what I mean. Carbon steel. And to find the best choice of them (with different-shaped bottoms for instance), better not go to Tang where they don't have a great choice (Tang is more a food place than a kitchenware place), but to the places I mentioned — especially Kawa and the kitchen supply store in the connecting street. I found the name again: it is called Bazar China Europe. The choice there is terrific. I shop in that area about three times a week so you can trust me on that.