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Mpls, MN, United States

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Shuang Hur Supermarket

So tonight I finally made it to the massive Asian grocery store that's just three blocks from my house and which I had, quasi-inexplicably, never visited, despite its mellifluous name, Shuang Hur, which lodges in my brain and gets stuck on repeat, either relatively quietly in the background of my thoughts, or occasionally--like now, since it's typed on the screen in front of me--irresistibly tripping aloud off my tongue, and always accented in my bad approximation of the tonal languages that fascinate me in Asian films.

I never really thought about why I hadn't been into Shuang Hur (Shuang Hur, Shuang Hur...), despite having walked, ridden, or driven by it innumerable times. The Mexican grocery store next door to it is pretty great, too, but I didn't discover that until my first visit this summer. And yet I've been to the sketchy "Quality's Market" between them twice--ostensibly because they're open later, but probably, if I'm being honest with myself, because the other two had always alarmed me a bit. They're not easy to see into, and Shuang Hur has things like "live seafood" painted on its windows, with illustrations to match. Tonight, however, desiring tofu and having finally decided to seize the opportunity that is my wildly multi-ethnic and food-obsessed neighborhood, I chose to, in Dumbledore's words, "step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure" [1].

Upon entering, I was instantly accosted by a powerful odor--predominantly of the live seafood, but combined with all sorts of difference. Channeled immediately into the store by a barrier of produce stands and towering displays of canned coconut milk, lychee, and jackfruit, however, I quickly forgot the smell and walked, rapt, down each aisle of the largest Asian grocery I'd ever seen. In Lincoln, Ter and I used to shop occasionally at the tiny grocery abutting and apparently associated with the Thai House restaurant, a closet-sized affair crammed to bursting with cans and boxes and bags of tantalizingly unfamiliar aliments, some of which she (who spent a year in Thailand) used to delight in buying and having me try at home.

Shuang Hur, alternatively, was about the size of Ideal Grocery in Lincoln, or my Aldi in Bowling Green, with aisle after fully-stocked aisle of so many things I'd never seen before that I had to keep reminding myself to close my mouth. I surreptitiously snapped a few pictures with my phone, too (which cost me the last package of firm tofu, as I attempted to document the impressive selection and prices); I had to settle for the medium after letting another (very polite) fellow shopper take it. Unfortunately, my phone munched the pictures; I'm especially disappointed about losing my images of the large drink case with its "PLEASE DO NOT DRINK BEFORE BUY" sign and the meat counter with pork tongues and "honeycomb" (a quick googling of which reinforces my gladness to be vegetarian). I perused everything like a tourist, marveling at squid chips, coconut jellies, half an aisle of various teas, and even gallon jugs of red and green food coloring. Another quirky touch was the quite respectable showing of Mexican food and seasonings--though presumably not as large as it might have been were it not next door to at least two sizable Latino groceries.

I got two packages of water-packed tofu, two large cans of coconut milk, a big ginger root, a lime, a mango, and a box of Pocky, for $7. They take credit cards, and they're open until 7:00 during the week. I'll definitely be back for more grocery shopping, and will be adding it to the list of Attractions for Visitors (sign up now!).

I love my neighborhood.

[1] Book the sixth, chapter 3


David said...

I have a similar relationship with a local Mexican grocery store. "La Bodega Yakimex." If I say it out loud a few times I get an uncontrollable urge to start a conga line. Also they stock a HUGE assortment of Mexican soda pops. My little brother and I once spent $20 on different Mexican sodas just because they looked cool. Most of them tasted like cheap 7up knock-offs, but Jaritos is good stuff.

Also, unrelated to this post, I didn't know you were from the Northwest. If you're ever in Walla Walla again drop me a line. I live about 50 miles from College Place.

Curly Sue said...

What is it about Asian grocery stores and how they always seem to be full to bursting? The several Asian groceries in C-U are always packed to the rafters with boxes, 100 lb. sacks of rice, cans, etc. Not only are the shelves full, but there are boxes and stacks of extra stuff directly in the aisles. Do they really get through that much volume? Or do their products simply have almost indefinite shelf lives?

Ern said...

I don't go to the (abundance of) Asian markets around here nearly as often as I should.

Daniel said...

But if you don't like "honeycomb" how are you going to be able to enjoy menudo?

Angela said...

Oh man, sign me up. I wonder if they have Korean food. Asia is so huge. Maybe that's why the stores are so packed. They have to accommodate for Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Phillipino, Indonesian, etc. because each country has their own flava, yo.

Last night I dreamt about Korea. I even sang in Korean.