My husband had been researching recipes we could easily make at home that would be filling but easy on the sugar/carbs. Some of the ingredients he needed: galengal, Thai basil, jicama, etc were either priced beyond our budget at regular grocery stores or just not available.
Since Hamilton has a fairly large asian population, we assumed that there must be markets that supply them with ingredients that are fresh, local or imported. After 2 years of living here, we finally found the place. What was crazy is that we were 2 blocks away from the Farmer's Market downtown but had never actually walked down the street where they are located. It just never dawned on us that a store would be located there.
Whatever you may be looking for, they pretty well carry it all. From fresh local meats, fish and shellfish to fresh local vegetables, herbs and fruits to imported condiments, spices, soup blends, curries, durian fruit. Name it, they most likely have it in stock. If you go, be prepared to spend quite a bit of time just browsing the many shelves that are found in narrow aisles where shopping carts compete for space with the stock boys keeping the shelves filled to capacity.
There are also some specialties prepared and cooked daily like barbecue pork, duck, chickens, quails that you can buy and take home. They have sweet asian breads from a local bakery as well as cakes & pastries. Personally I love their Durian cake, Moon cake and my husband adores the red bean cakes. You get 4 pastry/cakes for $1.99. Blame Anthony Bourdain for my love of Durian. Ever since I saw the episode he did in search of Durian I wanted to taste it. Nevermind the stench, I wanted to know what the fuss was about Durian. Several years ago I had spotted a tube of paste that claimed to be Durian, but once I tasted it, I knew this could not possibly be what sent Mr. Bourdain into an orgasmic dream sequence. My search continued on until I found the Durian pastry like cakes at Tan Thanh's. One of these days I will have to buy one of the fresh Durian fruits they bring in seasonally. But that will be another time. I'm afraid I wouldn't know where to eat it since my husband will refuse to be present at the opening of a stinkball of such potency that I worry it may set off a 4 cityblock evacuation. And driving out to the countryside with no car is out of the question. Ahh well, I shall dream on.
Don't expect to get fancy cuts of meat there. You point to the piece of meat you want, they weigh it and bag it. That's it. You want it cut up, you have a knife or cleaver at home you can do it yourself. But you can buy some of the best tasting pork, chicken and beef anywhere around. First time I had a chop from a pork loin, I almost cried with happiness, it tasted like what I had been raised on as a child living on a farm. We grew our own meat.
If you like chicken feet, this is the place that carries them. The whole chicken area is self serve. You put on a plastic bag as a glove and take what you need and bag it yourself. They replenish the shelves constantly since the price you pay for chicken breasts, deboned, skinned is lower than anywhere else in town. The chicken is local and may be free range since the flavor again reminds me of home as a child with our own free range chickens.
You can also get fresh blue crabs for $1.99 a lbs, fresh mussels, scallops, and other shellfish all displayed in tanks with water circulating. The fresh fish is swimming around in a huge tank below the counter that has already cleaned fish displayed on beds of crushed ice. The guys behind the counter are more than eager to get your choices packed for you.
I love the fruit they carry. They will have seasonal fruits like rambutan, lychees, longans, dragon fruit, asian pears, oranges, mandarins, mutsu apples, those tiny bananas, and much more.
They also carry many brands of rice like sticky, jasmine, and noodles fresh and dried. You like bubble tea. This is the place to come to for your bubble tea supplies. From the tea, flavor powders and multicolored tapioca balls, you can make your very own bubble tea at home.
If you want to go there, just click on the store name, it will bring you to a google map. Tan Thanh Supermarket
Have a great time exploring and experimenting with new ingredients. I know finding this market made a huge difference in our diet and I wouldn't go back to the heavy meat/potatoes north amercian diet for anything.