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  • Writer's pictureTina Brand

Grocery Adventures: Sydney Chinatown

The foray for Izzy Have You Eaten this time was in search of the best grocers. For Chinatown regulars, you're in the know and can skip this post, but for those of you who are used to shopping close to home, consider grocery shopping in Chinatown.

Asians are so known for turning up their noses at anything less than veggies, meat and fish bursting with freshness. So you can be sure that everything in Chinatown is just off the truck. Put that together with the high turnover, and you'll see that the veggies look like they've barely made it to the shelves.

Lorrie, ever curious, made forays into retail outlets as well. Discover all her finds on her blog which will feature this visit.

Thai Kee in the Paddy's Market building is a true shopper's delight. The parking in the building is not cheap after the first hour, but the time keeps me efficient, and from straying....

The light rail goes right past on Hay Street, so that's convenient if you're on the route.

Thai Kee IGA hits all the notes: general shopping for clorox, butter and kitty litter, freekeh, weetbix and deodorant, but also every imaginable width, length and twist of noodle, fresh and dried, row upon row of Asian sauces, dips, rubs and spices, freezer chests filled with

thinly sliced meat for soups, dumplings and noodles to help make your family dinners absolutely effortless, fresh veggies and fruit bursting with goodness, and of course a section of tender and fresh Vietnamese coconut and rice flour cakes, Chinese mooncakes, and the fragrant Malaysian pandan cakes- hard to miss with its bright green hue. There's a whole aisle dedicated to plasticware: baskets, colanders, cutlery dividers, and chopsticks. Another row hosts shelves of tableware: plates, cups, bowls, saucers, mugs and jugs. You could, in fact, very efficiently and with little effort organize a large dinner party entirely out of Thai Kee IGA. Thai Kee has a comprehensive shopping website, and also offers delivery. You could get into very dangerous habits of ordering local restaurant delicacies and have them delivered: popular chefs sell packaged popular items at the supermarket, like Ho Jiak's wagyu rendang and ChoCho San's moochi ice cream logs. What could be better for some Covid isolation comforts?

On an opposite corner of the Paddy's Market building is Dong Nam A.

It is a scrupulously clean establishment, and the ordered piles are inviting to any passerby.

Right at the front are large tubs in rows, one dedicated entirely to fresh bean sprouts. The other big plastic tubs hold fresh vegetables and aromatic herbs- all the ones so abundantly used in SouthEast Asian cooking, like various types of mint, coriander and kaffir lime leaf.

Further in, and you'll find this a typical Asian grocery store, with all the condiments, sauces, spices and dried herbs you'd need for a big cook-up.

In the very back, you'll find more crockery and household/kitchen needs. I enjoy browsing the aisles here as it is obviously organized with thought and care to simplify the process for the shopper.

If you're cooking vegetables as a mainstay to your meals, you really must put Jarern Chai Grocer on your list. Located at the front corner of Boon Cafe, both cafe and grocery corner come under the far reaching Chat Thai umbrella, food industry veteran Amy Chanta's dream. Her daughter Palisa and husband run Boon Luck farm in the Byron Bay region from where the beautiful greens that pile high in Jarern Chai come from. It is just such a joy standing in the cool refrigerated space of Jarern Chai, letting your eyes wander over smooth skinned green mangoes, pretty bunches of kangkong, even stems of dill and chives and the most shiny chillies you'll see anywhere.

The added bonus of shopping for your veggies here is that you can wander right through to Boon Cafe for food, a pressed juice or a stiff short black.

Grocery shopping in Chinatown is fun! It is also kinder on your wallet, and you'll be heading home with produce that will enhance your cooking for its bursting freshness.

Thai Kee IGA Supermarket

9-13 Hay Street

Haymarket 2000

Ph: 02 92113150

Dong Nam A & Co

14 Campbell Street

Sydney 2000

Ph: 02 92126673

Jarern Chai Grocer

200/425 Pitt Street

Haymarket NSW 2000 Ph: 02 9211 0970


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