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Apr 21, 2013 04:01 PM

Asia Market 265 E. Hastings (DTES) - all things Thai

Upon a quick search, I realized this place has been mentioned here a few times, and I actually had not paid attention to those threads. Until this weekend when the store was brought to my attention, by my wife's colleague who asked her a favour and fetch him a bottle of fish sauce from there. So after a quickie lunch at Hon's in Chinatown we strolled over there. I never would have seen it myself driving by as their frontage and signage are rather inconspicuous. At any rate as soon as we walked in I knew this would be a treasure trove of all things Thai (and possibly Vietnamese, Indonesian, Cambodian, etc). Admittedly I didn't take the time to check out their vast plethora of goods (but visual scans of price tags suggest they're super cheap) as I'm not that well-versed in the cuisines of this region of Asia. Wife bought a few packages of curry pastes, as well as the fish sauce her colleague requested (710ml Ruang Tong brand for < $2). I fancied a package of what looks like puffed rice crackers (sweetened with palm sugar, as told by staff) and munched on them as soon as we exited the store. Yum.

I didn't ask the young couple behind the counter what their nationality is (quite possibly Thai), but did manage to find out they themselves have been there since March 2012, but the store has been there since at least 2002.

Anyway I'm just posting this to make future searches and references easier. I'm sure they'll gain extreme popularity in due time. Here's the storefront (red signage):

And some tidbits from the "Y" site:

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  1. I think they are actually Vietnamese. But yeah it is a great place to buy some Thai and Vietnamese herbs, sauces, specialty items, etc.

    1 Reply
    1. re: fmed

      Yeah I like that place and the people that run it-Vietnamese-the immediate neighbourhood can be an issue.

      The service reminds me of similar places in Latin America-when they see you struggling with a number of small packages someone quickly & quietly hands you something to carry them in without imposing.

    2. I *think* this is the only place in town that carries Thai iced tea powder per an earlier search. Deffo a great store.

      1. the owners are Thai, with a Chinese speaking older lady(possibly from Vietnam) manning the till.
        if you have specific(generic) item you can ask them to source and bring it in for you.
        for the record, if you need any Thai ingredient/recipe this may be a good source for future reference.
        hey are also good with Vietnamese/Malaysian products.
        For vietnamese there is a store that looks run down closes to Tung Hing that has better selection. There is also another decent Vietnamese grocer further along on the same block that is similar and serve fresh sugar cane juice.

        GE: this is where i get my thai ice tea now. since the one on Gore closed, as you reported.

        I'm in search for asam gelugor/Thai ส้มแขก:
        But they havent been able to source it, so if any hounds care to help my search, I'd greatly appreciate it. :-D
        I cant get it anyhwere...... :-(

        1. I'm actually sure a grocery store has existed in this location since the late 80s. I remember I had my first Banh Mi here as a 9 year old (30ish now). There use to be a counter at the very back of the store that made them there just before Ba Le opened on Main.

          Does anyone remember the Spicy Steve cooking show on the Shaw community channel, think late 90s - early 00s? He featured Aisa Market on his show on where to get the Asian ingredients he used in his recipes and cooking demos.

          This place has been around.

          17 Replies
          1. re: moyenchow

            I think this used to be known as "Bonanza Market". I took a one day Thai cooking class in the early 90s and the instructor told us to go there for ingredients.

            1. re: moyenchow

              Spicy Steve is still alive on Youtbe.

              1. re: moyenchow

                Yeah I used to watch Spicy Steve. He has a Thai or SE Asian wife, doesn't he ?

                Didn't he film his show somewhere on the north side of False Creek (you can see the south side of FC as background view) ? Or am I thinking of a different fella ?

                On a sidenote, what ever happened the the series Gaslight Gourmet ? And the chef, Dave Forestall ? He had a good thing going there, but I suspect the show (and Dave) was under-appreciated.

                1. re: LotusRapper

                  I totally remember him! Trailblazer, he was. I think he used to have the lady that ran Rasa Singapura on his show sometimes. Man, Rasa Singapura was a high-water mark for Singaporean cuisine in the Lower Mainland. Their roti canai was so good. Then her nephew (?) Radz took over and it was still good until he sold it to some Malaysian guy... But yeah, Spicy Steve's passion for SE Asian cuisine is remarkable.

                  1. re: flowbee

                    It just seems unfair to talk about Spicey Steve without even mentioning Tasty Trish :)

                    1. re: vandan

                      Ya lost me there. Are you still on local food shows, or do you need a different forum for Tasty Trish ? ;-)

                        1. re: vandan

                          Sorry vandan, just having some fun there ;-)

                          1. re: LotusRapper

                            No probs, but you got to admit she was his main muse, and I did love rhe name as well

                  2. re: LotusRapper

                    I think I'm mixing Spicy Steve's studio (in his house) with another chef, last name might have been Robson (??) who had a clean-cut look with a beard, and tattoo on his arm. Studio was on the north side of False Creek, and somehow I had the impression it was on the top floor of a Thai (?) resto near where C is now. Anyone remember that 30-min travel & cooking show ?

                    1. re: LotusRapper

                      I do! The chef was Thomas Robson and his show was called "Entree to Asia".

                      1. re: Hachidori

                        That's it .... thanks ! Knowledge Network had a string of good (to us) cooking shows back then.

                        Found a few on Y-Tube:





                        Who needs television these days eh ? :-)

                  3. re: moyenchow

                    Whoa! Did I just stumble on the Spicy Steve fan club? Only chow hounds I guess ;)

                    I thought I was the only one who enjoy enjoyed his slightly cheesey presentation but the guy did know his Thai and Malay cuisine.

                    Yes I remember the gas light gourmet.

                      1. re: vandan

                        Inspired by this thread I slouched into Asia Market today after about a year's absence-very impressed by some of the new lines they're carrying especially the Thai Curry pastes.

                        The store looks better than ever and the herbs in particular were very fresh and reasonably priced.

                        1. re: Sam Salmon

                          Rough 'hood, mind you. I felt awkward going in while "transactions" were happening 10' away from the front door.