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Jan 28, 2013 09:29 AM

Asian/Ethnic Markets in the SLO/Atascadero/Paso area?

Hello Central Coast Chowhounders!

My family has recently moved up to the Central Coast , and they are big fans of the Indian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese food that I cook at home here in Tucson.

My mother has requested that I teach her how to make the dishes that her and my father love to eat when they visit me - the problem, however, is that we do not know where to find the groceries needed to make those recipes when I visit this upcoming weekend (2/1).

My Google searches have been dicey at best.

Any suggestions on decent Asian/Ethnic markets in the area? I'm looking for places that sell the following:

- Gochujang/Doenjang
- Decent kimchi/oi sobaegi
- Tteok
- Soft tofu
- Dried baby sardines
- Kombu
- Tofu skins
- Gai lan/Choi sum
- A wide array of spices at a decent price (I'm not talking about what you can find in a conventional grocery store, where you get 1-2 ounces for $5+), such as turmeric, ground coriander, brown mustard seed, kalonji, garam masala, etc.
- Bhel chutney
- Paneer
- Msoor dahl

I don't mind driving a bit, and I understand that I might need to drive up to San Jose if nothing pops up, but I'm hoping Chowhound might be able to keep me from heading up there.

ANY help would be greatly appreciated, but if you need to ask me what most of these things are, you probably don't know what kind of place I'm looking for or if it exists in the area.

Thanks again, folks.

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  1. I haven’t personally run into what you are looking for here. I don’t know how you are coming into town. But, if you are coming in through San Francisco or San Jose, you are probably better off doing your shopping there on the way down. If not, I’d look South. I haven’t quit my day job yet and do most of my shopping for similar items in Goleta (Santa Barbara). The two I frequent are:

    Asian Market
    5863 Hollister. Goleta
    Next to a Vietnamese noodle restaurant
    Their focus is heavy on South East Asia, though other regions are represented pretty well.

    Choi’s Oriental Market
    185 S. Patterson, Goleta
    This is in a strip mall at the corner of Patterson and Fairview
    The Owners are Korean and that is where a lot of their focus is

    For your bulk spices, your best bet is probably an Indian market but I don’t have one I can personally recommend

    1. There is an Asian Market in Santa Maria (next door to the best sushi in the area, Atari Ya) in the back row of Stowell Center between Battles and Stowell, just off Broadway near JC Penny's center. Farther down in the same row is DeBu Filipino goods store.De Bu is also in Pismo Beach on Price St. They both stock most Asian packaged foods and also refrigerated foods, fresh veggies and frozen fish items. No bulk spices etc that you'd be likely to find in the Bay Area.

      Also, in SLO on Monterey near Johnson is another Asian mkt. The usual packaged foods as well as quail eggs, etc.

      You might ask the folks at the Indian restaurant on Broad St, near Chile Peppers, where they find the best items from your list. They might sell you some from their suppliers--save you a long trip.

      There is a small convenience store on Grand Ave @ Halcyon, SE corner, they sell some packaged Indian foods but not bulk spices. Some of your Indian spices may be available at the Nat'l Foods Coop on Broad Street, or at New Frontiers, in their bulk spices. You can always mail order or by phone from your favorite BA stores. Do you know Bombay Spice House on University in Berkeley? Great fresh bulk spices, legumes, specialty flours, etc.

      New Frontiers in SLO carries paneer but it is pricey. Do report back on what you find and about your cooking activities.

      1. Just visited the Asian Market in Goleta (K-Mart Shopping Center) looking for Indonesian, and came away dazzled by their array of fresh, frozen and packaged. Whole aisles devoted to single countries.

        I can hardly wait to go back with a menu game plan and start working my way through all their very intriguing offerings. Dad runs it, but a very fluent daughter is there to help with any of your questions. This is a classic.