BY DAVE OVERTON
I’ve received thousands of emails from hundreds of Ace readers asking, “What about us?” What about those who live in Northeast Lexington? Where do we shop for international food without driving across town? Do we live in an ethnic food desert? Where can we go for the right ingredients when we want to cook our favorite fusion dishes?
Well, I have good news for you about a trio of international options.
We’ll start our international journey today at Richmond Road, just outside New Circle.
Parisa International Supermarket sits in a little shopping center behind the Chase Bank and specializes in ingredients for Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine.
In their deli case, Parisa sells several varieties of black and green olives, fresh fates, and fresh Spanish cheese. They also sell frozen Halal meats, including goat and lamb. Halal is a term used to describe food that is prepared in accordance with Islamic religious requirements. Parisa also carries a selection of Middle Eastern flatbreads, including pita and lavash, a sort of very large cracker, a good selection of olive oils, and a large selection of teas. You can also find bottled grape leaves, tahini, bottled olives, and both jasmine and basmati rices. But Parisa’s strongest point may be their bulk spices (a good assortment of aromatic spices such as cumin and coriander, both whole and ground, at low prices, compared to large chain groceries).
Continuing on our trek, we land at the Seoul Supermarket at 1085 New Circle, on the outside of New Circle, just before you get to Trade Center Drive. If I had to pick a favorite ethnic market in this part of town, Seoul Supermarket would probably be it. They have a small but well-chosen and high quality produce department containing such Asian culinary requisites as fresh mustard greens, pak choi, bean sprouts, bok choi, napa cabbage, daikon radishes, and cilantro. They also carry a selection of unusual items including fresh shitaakes, oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, and lemongrass. Seoul Supermarket also carries a good variety of other Asian culinary items. If you’re making miso soup, they carry bonito flakes and kombu and both red and yellow miso. They also have instant miso soup mixes. And they have dried shiitakes, noodles, and many canned vegetables. You’ll find a good selection of Chinese sauces such as hoisin, fermented bean sauce, hot sauces, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
We now move around New Circle to the Hong Kong Market, which is on the inside of New Circle, just east of Tattoo Charlie’s, but west of the Toyota dealership.
It’s not well-marked, so you’ll have to keep a close eye out for it. If you have a hankering to cook some Chinese food late at night, Hong Kong Market stays open until midnight on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. They carry a standard variety of canned Chinese ingredients, as well as some frozen buns to steam, and stuffed wontons. In the back of the store, you’ll find the fresh fish department. That’s right. Fresh fish on ice is in the back of the store. They’ve had different fish each time I’ve been in. Today’s selection included clams, mussels, and the heads of some monkfish. They either sold the tails already or the heads are used in some fashion that I’m not aware of. The clerk didn’t speak any English so I was unable to determine which. Only the tails are normally eaten (sometimes called poor man’s lobster). They did have a few fresh vegetables in the cooler including pak choi and napa cabbage and some fresh ginger. Just enough to turn out a quick midnight Asian feast.
The last few stops are rather more domestic. Across Man O War from hamburg Place sits GFS Market and Liquor Barn. GFS Market is the retail store maintained by Gordon Food Distributors. There you can buy large commercial quantities of food at slightly lower than retail prices. They carry large jars of spices, and a lot of prepared, frozen, and pre-portioned foods. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, don’t look for it here, but if you’re shopping to feed a large party, this may be the place you want.
Nearby Liquor Barn has a well-stocked deli, cheeses, and some specialty packaged foods. They also, of course, have a large selection of wines, beers, and liquors, as well as the equipment and supplies to make them yourself.
Well, there you are. That’s all my secret food suppliers on the northeast side of Lexington, Kentucky. If you have some of your own, tell me about them.
Ace contributing Food Writer Dave Overton is executive chef at Quirk Cafe in Midway. On Twitter, he is @ChefDaveO.
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Where to Eat in Lexington, Kentucky: Ten Downtown Ace June 2012