As the stock market teeters and we’re all trying to cut corners, ancient Chinese wisdom says, “It’s good to remember the economic benefits of shopping at the Southeast Supermarket.” OK, I made that up. But it should be written on a fortune cookie somewhere. This emporium of Asian ingredients, prepared foods and cheap-but-effective cookware is a bargain-hunter’s dream and a culinary adventure. Right now, the old building is hidden behind a facade of plywood as it gets a needed facelift, but don’t let that deter you.
Inside, the place is literally packed to the rafters with items such as 25-pound bags of jasmine ($16.50) and basmati rice at one end and a cooler full of handlettered boxes of fresh herbs and greens at the other. Look for lime leaf and lemon grass, the freshest purple basil and mint, four or five kinds of “choy” (from bok to big gai), tiny Thai eggplant and long Chinese eggplant—all in generous amounts, and all under $2. The same cooler yields rice noodles as thick as pappardelle and packages of all-natural, frozen Georgia quail for under $7. Nearby, you’ll find all kinds of frozen pot stickers, steamed buns, frozen Chinese vegetables and thin onion pancakes.
The sauce aisle is a riot of incendiary chili pastes, spicy ginger sauce and char siu—self-proclaimed Chinese barbecue sauce—plus oyster and fish sauces galore in wildly graphic bottles. Around the corner, aisles of candies await along with kitschy-looking herbal remedies in boxes alluring enough to display on a shelf at home. Along the north wall, a gallon of quality rice vinegar goes for $7.99, and a one-gallon tin of quality soy sauce is priced at $11.29. Cookware at the south end of the store ranges from woks and steamers to plastic bowls and teapots. Super!
SOUTHEAST SUPERMARKET 422?E. 900 South, 801-363-5474