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Jun 26, 2013 10:03 AM

Where do you shop for vegetables in Oakland Chinatown ?

I've lately gotten in the habit of heading into Oakland chinatown for the occasional meal, and keep seeing good prices on "chinese" vegetables (yard long beans, on choy, etc...).
Does any one have any recommendations on where to shop in the area ?

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  1. I'm not aware that any one place is better across the board than any other. I usually just walk down the sidewalk and buy what looks like the best quality at the best price.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      Sounds reasonable. I used to buy at Orient Market before they closed. The produce there was fine, although I went there because they sold Hong Kong Noodle Co. products.

      There is a seller at the Sat Berkeley FM, who specializes in Asian produce. I bought the most beautiful gai lan there last week. On any given week he will have several bok choys, amaranth. long beans, Chinese okra, mo gwa, geet gwa, wintermelon, Chinese mustard greens and more.

      1. re: chocolatetartguy

        The Old Oakland farmers market has the best selection of Asian produce I've seen (I've never been to Alemany). Very competitive pricing, too, because of the proximity to Chinatown.

      1. re: wolfe

        Good point. If you can get there, the Old Oakland FM has great variety and great prices.

      2. There's a Vietnamese grocery with a great selection of herbs (I go there for ngo gai) one or two doors east of Broadway on the south side of 8th or 9th St.

        Generally I prefer to buy vegetables at the farmers markets.

        1. I've always wondered about this. All my cookbooks talk about the Chinese near-fanatical approach to freshness in produce. But most markets in Chinatown display produce that is less than pellucid. Weird disconnect, what?

          3 Replies
          1. re: essvee

            We observed this in China: Many restaurants serve a truly seasonal, local menu because they lack refrigeration or space for food storage. So I think your description is apt but I wouldn't necessarily apply it to U.S. where many people shop at Safeways for their food. Chinatown depends on volume and high turnover in order to be able to price their goods affordably. If either aren't in play then you likely see less than lovely goods. In Chinatown, I like Yuen Hop for their produce; they seem to take a bit more care in editing out the tired stuff. I also liked the Vietnamese grocery that Robert mentioned (Khanh Phong?) but the other week they were renovating and I'm not sure if it's there any more.

            1. re: rubadubgdub

              there's a "for rent" sign on the window now.

            2. re: essvee

              Seems like all the shops in Chinatown buy from the same or similar wholesale vendors. You simply have to look at the boxes. Also a lot of it maybe price driven.

              That said, the truly seasonal specialties like long beans can be very good. I think some Chinatowns suffer from the same stuff as mainstream supermarkets - homogenization of sources and types of produce.

              Also small mom and pop shops have to deal with spoilage differently than supermarkets or chains like WF, both who dump stale looking produce.