Man! This is an amazing place. Thanks to one of the Chefs at Epcot for telling me about this market. We added it to our list of errands one Monday and we were glad we did. Eric has since visited several times and it’s definitely worth a stop when in Orlando. Did a bit of digging and found this info about the market:
- Founded in 1976, their early stores were in Maryland and Virginia. They’ve expanded into Florida.
- Their goal is to be the premier source of Asian groceries, popular Korean items, Japanese, Vietnamese, Philippine and Thai products to name a few of their focuses.
- They import product from farmers all over the world to assure fresh, in-season produce.
- Their guiding principles are to Lead, Listen, Loyalty and Pride.
Upon entering once of the first things you come across is their produce department. WOW! It was nothing short of amazing. I’ve got to share a few of the many photos I took. Literally, right inside the door was a pallet of Jakfruit. I included a few ‘fun’ facts after the strangest fruits.
- Cultivated widely throughout tropical regions of the world and is the national fruit of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
- The jakfruit tree bears the largest fruit from all fruit-producing trees, with a mature tree producing some 200 fruits per year.
- The ripe fruit is sweet and often used for desserts with an aroma resembling pineapple and banana.
- In some cultures the jakfruit is boiled and used in curries.
Another interesting item was the Tindora. I had seen something similar – chinese bitter melon – but this was a bit different and smaller than that. Pictured below are the small immature fruits commonly used in India. When I took a closer look at my photos, there is a shot of the chinese bitter melon with the eggplant – further down.
- It is a tropical vine, which can easily become an invasive species, growing up to 4″ per day.
- They are best when cooked and commonly eaten in Indian cuisine by deep-frying it along with local spices
- It has a bitter flavor so the addition of vinegar and sugar can reduce any bitter aftertaste.
I had never heard of this next item. I thought it was a sugarcane stalk until I read the tag – Gobo. Internet search also called it Burdock root.
- Typically used in Japanese cooking and it can be used boiled & seasoned in Miso soup, salads and other Asian dishes.
- Said to have a taste similar to a bitter carrot. Several recipes use it for Gobo Sushi.
- Another source said it has a crispy, earthy sweet taste to it. Seems like the only way to know is to try it yourself.
The last one I’m calling out is the banana flower. While not entirely unknown in Florida, I had never seen it locally available.
- Can be eaten raw or cooked, common in South-East Asian cuisine.
- The flower clusters hang at the end of banana clusters.
- One source said the blossoms are soft with just a bit of crunch, more like an artichoke when it comes to flavor.
- Typically found in salads, curries or soups.
There was sooooooo many things available, a good deal I knew, other things I did not. I could spend an hour+ in this section. And just because I took so many photos, here are a few more. Look at all of those potatoes!
But then we came across the Seafood section of the market.
This definitely reminded me of the Carrefore that I shopped in Shanghai. Fish were lined up on ice and workers were available to assist once you made your selection.
These crabs were alive, just kept cool to slow their movement and not escape their bin. Use the tongs to pick the ones you want, put them in a paper sack and you’re good to go.
They had lots of pre-packaged seafood items. These two photos do not do this section justice. There was just too many things to take photos of.
And the soy sauce(s)…………………..oh my. There were more than my photo indicates. Practically one aisle is just bottles of soy sauce.
Can you have too much sriracha sauce on hand?
On the other side of the store was the bulk items. Wow – rice was from a number of different countries.
This bakery was exactly like where I shopped in Shanghai. Notice the loaves of bread on the top of the display case (right photo)? That’s how my bread came. The pieces of bread were thick and (almost) perfectly square and probably were 8 pieces of bread inside each package.
They also had a small food court in one section of the market with 8 stalls selling different asian foods. We stopped at this one and ordered things to share.
As I said in the beginning, this was an a.m.a.z.i.n.g. market! Eric has since made repeat visits and his purchases have turned into delicious dinners.