Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hawaï 5-0

Hawaï fig. a: I'm all lost in the supermarket

If you're going to go on a full-blown Asian kick, you need your sources. Local supermarkets may be carrying more and more Asian specialty items all the time (our local, the Greek-owned Supermarché P.A., being a perfect example of this trend), but you can't find things like Chinkiang vinegar, Thai crab paste, Chinese cooking wine, kecap manis, dried cloud ear mushrooms, and, our favorite, "seasoned lavers" (dried, super-tasty seaweed sheets that we like to call "the quicker picker-uppers") just anywhere. So it pays to know your Asian specialty stores. In our post on soto ayam back in January we mentioned a few places that come in handy when you're looking for things like kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, and rice noodles, but we thought it might be useful if we made the list a little more official and expanded it somewhat.

The biggest, most impressive Asian market we've found thus far, and today's featured "Asian Market of the Day," is the place you see above: Hawaï. Not only does it have a great name, and beautiful décor,

hawaï! fig. b: Hawaïan Tropic

but it's the biggest Asian market I've seen since the last time I was on the West Coast. How big? Take the picture up-top and multiply it by 10. No joke. And as you can tell from the bright yellow signs in the photograph, Hawaï prides itself on offering a complete range of Asian specialty products, from Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, to Thai, Cambodian, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Indonesian, Malaysian, Filipino, and so on.

Of course, Hawaï's also the most out-of-the-way place on our list, assuming you're based somewhere in Montreal's central core like we are, but it's absolutely worth the pilgrimage to Ville Saint-Laurent just for the beautiful packaging alone.

MeriLin Pickled Cabbage fig. c: MeriLin pickled cabbage

The management thought I was kinda funny because I was snapping pictures left and right, but I know a good thing when I see one.

Ville St-Laurent:

Marché Hawaï, 1999 Marcel-Laurin, 856-0226

kien xuong and friend fig. d: Kien Xuong vs. the Green Men


Kien Vinh, 1062-1066 St-Laurent, 393-9030--Asian grocery

Heng Heng Chanchaya, 1075 St-Laurent, 861-4550--Asian grocery

Kien Xuong, 1076 St-Laurent, 866-0941--Asian grocery--quite possibly Kien Vinh's sister store

Marché Pap Pap, 1025 St-Laurent, 878-8080--Asian candy store


Eden, 3575 Avenue du Parc, suite 4115, 843-4443--Asian grocery store (and a good place to pick up a chocolate bar before you go to the Cinéma du Parc)

Sakaris, 4393 St-Laurent, 844-5143--Portuguese grocery that still carries all your Portuguese staples, but which has gone seriously Asian over the last couple of years


La Dépense, 7070 Henri-Julien (at Jean-Talon Market), 273-1118--world specialty food shop with a particularly strong selection of Asian items

Olives et Épices, 7070 Henri Julien (at Jean-Talon Market), 271-0001--Montreal's (North America's?) best spice shop is a fantastic source for harder-to-find Asian spices and higher-quality versions of Asian spice staples (like their killer Imperial Sichuan pepper)

Marché Oriental St-Denis, 7101 St-Denis, 271-7878--Asian grocery store

Thai Hour, 7130 St-Denis, 271-4469--Asian grocery store

This is by no means a definitive list. These are just some of the places we've frequented over the years.

Got your own favorites? Drop us a line and tell us about 'em.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great tips and recipes. Speaking of Asian groceries, can you recommend a good brand of short grain white sticky rice?

Sarah said...

I make my weekly stop at the Japanese and Korean store in NDG, right across the street from Akhavan. They have great homemade kimchee and pickled radish!

aj kinik said...

hi, Wren,
thanks for writing--we've been using Kokuho Rose recently and getting good results--we just bought a bag of Botan calrose rice to try something new, but we've yet to bust it open--we'll let you know if it's magic

hi, Sarah,
you know, I've been to Akhavan dozens of times, but I've never had the brains to go to the Japanese and Korean store across the way--thanks for reminding me--next time we're out there...

CWI said...

the vegetarian glutinous rice parcels i got at hawai the other day are the ultimate post-bar snack.

Geoff said...

Ah, I know where I'll be stocking for that care package to post back to NZ when I'm in Mtl.

Vincci said...

I didn't shop enough at them to make a solid judgement of how good they are, but what I loved about living at my old apartment on Chomedey was having three Asian grocers within a two-block radius (in addition to three regular grocers!)

I don't have exact addresses, but they're not hard to find...

Dragon Mart - On Du Fort between Maisonneuve and Ste-Catherine, across from P.A.
Bonjour - On Maisonneuve between Chomedey and Du Fort
Japanese/Korean Grocers - On Ste-Catherine just off the corner of Chomedey

aj kinik said...

hi, CWI
tell me more, tell me more

hi, Geoff
you've got your work cut out for you

hi, Vincci
thanks for the tips--I'll go and check them out the next time I'm out that way--we've got a friend who gets wicked lavers at the Japanese/Korean store, but I've never been

Coconut Girl Connie said...

someone has a great marketing the name. in Hawaii one of the Asian super stores is named Don Quixote (formerly Daiei) and the Japanese tourists call it Donkey Hotel...obviously I am into the marketing thing...

shoobidoo99 said...

P.S. to Vincci's post: There is also the wee store underneath the Resto du Bonheur on St. Mathieu below de Miasonneuve.
And the fab Kim Phat: the one just off Cote-des-Neiges near the mall and the huge one on the South Shore.

Anonymous said...

I love your site, thank you to be there.
Do you really can find chinese cooking wine (shaoxing, Shao Hsing, etc) somewhere in Montréal ?

aj kinik said...

Hi, CGC,
Don Quixote--now THAT'S a great name

Sancho Panza would be a pretty great one too

Hi, Shoobidoo,
thanks for throwing in your 2 cents--we'll have to do some investigating...

Hi, anonymous,
Yes, you can find shaoxing in Montreal--we got our last bottle at La Dépense, at Jean-Talon Market, and it was much better than average