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Please help me with Portland Chinese supermarkets & ingredients?

Mr Taster Jan 31, 2014 03:22 PM

Greetings Portland 'hounds

Long-time (10+ year) Los Angeles Chowhound here, doing some reconnaissance work, as there's a possibility that my Lovely Tasting Assistant™ (LTA™) and I could move to Portland in the near future-- around June/July.

She's from Taiwan, and one of the great joys I've had in living with her is that she's encouraged me to learn how to cook homey Chinese dishes. We love Fuchsia Dunlop's "Every Grain of Rice" book, and here in Los Angeles' San Gabriel Valley, I've been successful finding most of the ingredients I need for her recipes.

I don't expect the same depth of concentration of Chinese ingredients to be available in Portland (I understand that Seattle and Vancouver are better Chinese food destinations), but I am very curious to know from 'hounds knowledgeable in Chinese cookery whether some of my favorite ingredients are available, and where to find them. I understand the Portland Chinese community is located in the east part of the city, around 82-83rd. Is this accurate?

In particular, I'd like to know if you've got access to some of my favorite ingredients. I'll link to pics here:

Juancheng Doubanjiang from Pixian province (Sichuan) - this brand in particular:
http://posharpstore.com/en-us/juanche...

Dried, fermented black beans (any brand):
http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/.a/6a...

Chinese fresh lily bulbs (usually sold fresh, in vacuum sealed packaging in the refrigerated section):
http://www.redcook.net/wp-content/upl...

Young garlic (with purple bulbs-- not to be confused with spring onions, which are not purple, and do not have the same flavor
)http://thelunacafe.com/wp-content/upl...

Sichuan fermented mustard greens (Ya Cai) in vacuum sealed pouch:
http://www.fuchsiadunlop.com/wp-conte...

Baked pressed tofu:
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_8b2duW9MEO8...

That's enough for now-- thanks in advance, Portland 'hounds!

Mr Taster

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  1. grayelf RE: Mr Taster Feb 1, 2014 10:50 AM

    Not a Portland Hound but I'd take a look at Fubonn. I thought it had an impressive selection of Asian stuff, and it's quite lovely and tidy/well organized too (bonus). http://www.fubonn.com/

    2 Replies
    1. re: grayelf
      Mr Taster RE: grayelf Feb 1, 2014 12:22 PM

      Thanks for your reply, grayelf. Fubonn looks great-- I had previously seen it in a Yelp search for Chinese supermarkets, but was hoping for more specific input from Portland hounds who really know their stuff.

      Based on lack of responses I'm getting here, it looks like if/when I arrive I very well could become the resident Chinese food Chowhound expert (and I'm far from a true expert...)

      Come on, Portland 'hounds... show me what you've got!!

      Mr Taster

      1. re: grayelf
        team_cake RE: grayelf Feb 1, 2014 01:29 PM

        Fubonn is good. We also have H-Marts, which I prefer for some reason. I think I find the store layout less chaotic, but that's just me. Also, really good fresh produce at excellent prices. http://www.hmart.com/

        And we have a branch of Seattle's Uwajimaya in Beaverton, which is a suburb of Portland: http://www.uwajimaya.com/stores/beave....

        Of course, many mom & pop stores. I do tend to go to H-Mart for produce, rice, oils, vinegars, and such. I hit the mom & pop places for bakery items (although the big stores all have bakeries and baked goods, too).

      2. JillO RE: Mr Taster Feb 4, 2014 12:55 PM

        There are several good Asian markets around SE (esp on 82nd) but FuBonn is the biggest/best.

        Also An Dong (on SE Powell near 54th) has a good produce section, and a new Hong Phat (on SE 82nd at Burnside) also has a lot of produce (not a huge fan of this store, though). I also like the smaller quirky Oriental Food Value on SE Insley off of SE 82nd which is near JC Rice Noodle Shop (on SE Foster near 84th) - fresh rice noodles of various description...why buy dry and/or packaged when you can buy fresh?!

        Also EC Kitchen makes their own sausage (which is delicious) among other tasty meats (duck legs, BBQ pork, bacon) and turnip cake loaves (pics! http://eckitchenllc.com/packages.html) and is a great little place for a quick casual meal itself, if you want them to cook up some of that stuff for you. It's on SE 82nd and Henry.

        You'll be able to find young garlic at all of the farmers' markets when they are in season soon (and scapes!).

        I know I have seen lily bulbs, but I can't remember where...I'd bet that FuBonn has them.

        Plus, there are several places for fresh tofu (and many variations on that product - including fresh, unadulterated soy milk) such as Ota, Bui Tofu (a fave of mine), and Than Son Tofu (the only one on SE 82nd).

        You will be able to find a lot of the things you want here...but it is good to remember that there are far more Thai, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese folks around here than Chinese...so some specific things might be hard to find. If you can communicate with the store owners/managers (often a problem for me - I always try to have a picture of what I need on my phone ;o), they might order stuff for you they don't usually carry.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JillO
          Mr Taster RE: JillO Feb 4, 2014 01:09 PM

          Hi JillO

          This is wonderful. Thanks for all this info. Those sausages, in particular, look magnificent. Way better looking than the standard stuff you find in supermarkets.

          I've actually just gone through my supply of 蘿蔔糕 (luo buo gao/turnip cake) given to us by friends for the new year, and was going to try making my own for the first time- but it's great to know there's a local, freshly made source.

          Thanks again for your help. I'm sure we'll hit up at least FuBonn during our weekend there, and I'll report back with my impression.

          Mr Taster

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