Yesterday I spent the afternoon in a new grocery store in an unfamiliar neighborhood. It's suitably named Grand Mart; the place is enormous. The Grand Mart chain is operated out of Washington D.C., but there's really nothing chain-like about it. They specialize in Asian foods, and specifically Korean goods, but they also cater to the specific neighborhoods they move into. In this case, at the intersection of Cicero and North Ave., they're stocking a lot of Hispanic groceries. They also have a little bit of every other ethnicity you can think of.
Total hours spent in the Grand Mart = three. I strolled in wonderment for the first hour without even pushing a cart. There was so much to take in, it was almost overwhelming. The produce section has so many things I've heard of, but never seen: Thai Basil, Sesame Leaf, Fuzzy Squash, Banana Flower, Turmeric Root, Lotus Root. My Filipino friend, Milette, gushes about Durian fruit and how it is impossible to get in the States. Of course, Grand Mart stocks it. They had four different kinds of papaya and more varieties of peppers than you could eat in three weeks. It was astounding.
The meat and seafood department was equally as impressive. Cornish game hens, rabbit, oxtails, and many other things you can't get at the large corporate chain groceries. I don't think any amount of coaxing could persuade me to try pork uterus, but if you're looking for it, go to Grand Mart. Very fresh seafood sat in beds of ice, and there wasn't the faintest smell of rot. They had whole catfish, snapper, clams, mussels, oysters, and crab legs.
I bought a bunch of stuff, much of which I have yet to try, but one of the best things I found were frozen bao, those yummy little steamed buns that are filled with a variety of things. I chose pork filled and shrimp and mushroom filled, and now I have lunch for several days.
I also picked up a package of frozen coconut leaf bean cakes. There are four small cakes, individually wrapped in dried leaves. They look like little presents. I'm taking them to Tags tomorrow to share with my coworkers.
Grand Mart is so chock-full of awesome shit that I don't think it would be possible to absorb it all in ten trips, let alone three hours. I walked out with six bags full of food for right around $30.