International Market


It’s a market in one of the strip malls at the corner of Dogwood and Oak Road, the side that has the Sonic and the Bank of America, and behind the old Blockbuster. It’s now one of four in a chain. Two of the others have been reviewed here previously, as Gwinnett International Farmer’s Market and Lilburn Farmer’s Market. That should give you some clues as to what they do, and what they do well. For those wanting more recent discussion,  there is an active thread on 285 Foodies discussing the chain.

Virtues here will be seen mostly by large families. The meat prices are staggeringly low. I saw good looking T bones at $4/pound, a ton of other meats in the 3 dollar per pound range, roasts in the 2/lb range. Chicken breasts are about half the price, per pound, of the local chains. A considerably larger supply of offal – organ meats, chicken feet, bony cuts, ox tails, etc, is available at Nam Dae Mun than other stores.

Meats can be incredibly inexpensive at Nam Dae Mun. There are butchers, under the "Seafood" sign, who can cut up meats for you.

There is a European section, with Swiss and Croatian chocolates and Russian pickles, and an Asian section, with a ton of useful sauces (yu xiang sauce, for example, and perhaps 10-20 different kinds of Kikkoman products). I saw plenty of Caribbean spices and condiments. There was durian and jack fruit – huge things. There were plenty of red jalapenos, sugar cane, Korean sweet potatoes (asian yams), habaneros, exotic spices. Silky and firm tofu were available for about $1.60 a container.

There is a bakery. Though pretty modest, they are selling cookies and Danish that look useful. There is a seafood section. Among other things, they have live catfish and live lobster for sale.

Nam Dae Mun Farmer’s Market
850 Dogwood Road
Lawrenceville, GA 30044
(678) 580-6730

Two locations reviewed previously are:

Duluth:

3825 Shackleford Road
Duluth, GA 30096
(770)921-8288

Lilburn:

4805 Lawrenceville Highway
Lilburn, GA 30047
(770)381-0490

There is a location in Smyrna that I’ve not seen, but the address is:

2350 Spring Road
Smyrna, GA 30080
(678)309-0007

Maps to the various locations can be found here.

A large pan-Asian supermarket, with a focus on Chinese goods, Great Wall is on Pleasant Hill Road in Duluth, roughly opposite On the Border and the Pleasant Hill Barnes and Noble. I’ve had some trouble finding it, but I got enough hints at BuHi’s 3rd get together to find the place. The easiest approach, while heading west from I-85, is to turn right at the intersection where you normally would enter the OTB/B&N area via turning left.

The presence of Great Wall is waking up the sleepy Gwinnett Prado. A Cafe Mozart has parked itself nearby and a Korean Tofu House is beginning to take over an abandoned martial arts center. There are streamers and a big “Grand Opening” sign; but that may remain for weeks (the one by Sushi Avenue in Snellville has been up almost a year).

When you enter there are a row of eateries on the left and groceries on the right. Great Wall has generously wide aisles. There is none of this cramped elbowing you might find in other stores. We came twice on this day, once in the morning and then in the early afternoon. There were many more Asian customers in the early hours. Later was more ethnically diverse, and far more groups of people in shorts.

I liked the neat way the produce is laid out, the well written signs. You know what you’re buying, more so than other international markets. Rice is cheap here. It was nice to see a 50 pound bag of rice for 25 dollars. I thought that kind of pricing had gone away. Canned meats and fish were also exceptionally inexpensive. Beef, on the other hand, is pricier than the International Markets.

If you want the more interesting cuts of pork, such as ears, and feet, this place has offal in a bewildering array of forms. Near the meats, ladies had set up booths, tempting people with cooked samples of dumplings of various kinds.

This being a supermarket, taking pictures inside is the kind of thing that will earn you a long conversation with a market manager. I managed to get only one shot inside, that of quail eggs. But rest assured, this market is big and unique, and I suspect we’ll be hearing more, as opposed to less about it over time.

Great Wall Supermarket
2300 Pleasant Hill Road, Suite B6
Duluth GA 30096
(678)-957-0558

One of the emphases of Michael Pollan’s book “In Defense of Food” was on unprocessed foods. The reason for this are the as-yet unknown factors in the Western diet that lead to the various diseases of modern civilization. As I suffer, after one fashion or another, from most of those diseases I’m interested in delaying or halting those problems myself. One of the things I’ve been trying to do is locate suppliers of grass fed meats, milk, eggs, butter and cheese.

One resource that Michael Pollan recommended is the “Eat Wild” site. This is a good site, which has a page on which you can find Georgia farms that sell their products into the local markets. Using the map, you can find, for example, Country Gardens Farms and Nursery in Newnan, GA. This farm will take orders to be delivered to the Peachtree Road Farmer’s Market (open on Saturdays). Their prices are competitive, and the farm is nearby.

It isn’t just nearby farms that affect the availability of produce in the Atlanta area. South of Atlanta proper and close to the Alabama border is White Oak Pastures, of Bluffton GA. White Oak sells grass fed ground beef to Whole Foods and also to Publix. I haven’t seen the beef at Whole Foods, and I haven’t seen it at any Publix in Snellville. I have seen it at the Publix in the Prado, in Sandy Springs GA. Cost for a pound of White Oak ground beef there is $7.00 a pound. Correction: I’ve found two kinds of grass fed beef at the Publix on the corner of Ronald Reagan and 124, in Snellville.

This lack of product also affects suppliers such as Organic Valley. If you look them up, they supposedly supply Publix too, but typically the closest I can get to their pastured eggs and pastured butter are Organic Valley organic egg whites. Availability just isn’t there. To note, the Eat Wild site thinks highly of Kerrygold butter (Irish cows evidently are largely grass fed). Kerrygold butter can be found in most Publix supermarkets. Presumably, the same benefits apply to the Kerrygold cheeses as well.

For those of us in Snellville, the upcoming Snellville Farmer’s Market will offer some access to a good local farm. On the Eat Wild map, there are five push pins west of Atlanta. The third of these, smack in the middle of the group of five, is Nature’s Harmony Farm in Elberton GA. They sell grass fed beef, chickens, and eggs. If you look in the right place on their web site, you can see that they plan to attend the Snellville market on the first and third Saturdays of the month.

Interesting online suppliers of grass fed beef include Hearst Ranch and Slanker’s Grass Fed Meats. Heart is a little more conservative while I find Slanker’s to be entertaining in their zeal. Slanker’s though, has some real cooking tips and therefore worth a browse.

It’s called The Flea for short, the San Jose Flea Market, and perhaps the “Flea” part needs to be cut off, because it’s just a market, really, a huge one with a parking lot larger than the combined DeKalb Farmer’s Market and parking lot. It’s a bit larger than 4 city blocks, and the best part of it is the aisle of produce. It’s officially called Produce Row, it is quite a sight and alone is worth the trouble of getting there.

There is of course, more than  just produce. There are places to buy clothes, places to buy dolls and purses, used video games and inexpensive electronics. I saw two bands when I was there, playing music. There were a couple barber shops, places to get new audio in your car, art of various kinds. Places to eat were plentiful, but as we didn’t eat there, I’m not in a position to review them.

The Flea (San Jose Flea Market)
1590 Berryessa Road
San Jose, CA 95113

The Super H Mart near Brands Mart on Peachtree Industrial, that is. It has about 7 restaurants ands bakeries inside, all in a row, and for a Super H Mart, is remarkably lightly used. You can walk through the meat sections and not be crushed. I’d have eaten there but I had BuHi’s get together to go to. But a note: if you need your Asian goods on the way, and you pass Peachtree Industrial, this place is available now.

When the sign for Assi Supermercado first appeared on Pleasant Hill, my daughter and I drove into the lot to check it out. Nothing was open at the time and my first impression was that it was going to be a large Hispanic store targeted to the Spanish audience. Fast forward to now, and Chloe Morris has reviewed both Assi and two of the restaurants in Assi’s substantial food court (here and here). Rather than being a specifically Spanish store, it’s a classic international market, in the mold of Super H and Buford Highway Farmer’s Market. By the time I read Chloe’s blog, my wife was running late through Atlanta and my mother-in-law needed groceries to cook. It was a no brainer, then, to take my mother-in-law to the newest international market in Atlanta.

img_1058

There are two bakeries within Assi, including this one.

It is large. It contains foods, a couple bakeries (Mozart being one of them), several restaurants in the food court, and not just restaurants, but interesting restaurants. The store itself is maybe half to 70% of the size of Super H Mart, so the items that can be found in Assi isn’t as exhaustive as BHFM, but there is enough produce to make it a very useful stop. My mother-in-law completed her shopping there, getting everything from produce to inari-zushi wrappers to nori for home made sushi.

We also ate there, but I’ll cover that in a separate post.

Verdict: If you have any soul at all, and you’re living in the area, you must check it out. Simply must.

Assi International Supermercado
1630 Pleasant Hill Road
Duluth, GA 30096

Update: On the blog Mama Sophie’s Soul Kitchen, there is a detailed comparison of Assi and H-Mart.

I’m following my wife, daughter, and mother-in-law through Super H Mart, so that my mother-in-law can get the things she needs to make sushi. I’ve brought my camera along, so that I can record anything interesting. My mother-in-law, at 85, insists on pushing the grocery cart. The most polite to her as she pushes are Asian (largely Korean) men, ages 25 and up. Children take her for granted and women are mostly aggressive to one another in the store.

There are always things to see in Super H; it’s a bewildering flood of images and products. Some things make sense, and simultaneously seem out of place, such as instant pho.

img_0884

I thought the point of pho was to be fresh. Then there is freeze-dried honey.

img_0888

Freeze dried honey? But Super H is always full of eye candy, such as these octopus tentacles.

img_0893

Or these Korean noodles, which are so good, they say, that slurping is allowed.

img_0903a

Finally, dragon fruit, which, as it turns out, are native to Central America actually and are the fruit of a cactus. Just, in the Americas, the natives prefer the sour fruit, but in Asia, they like the sweet ones. This is akin to the difference between what mangos they eat on Guam and in the States. On Guam, mangos are consumed while they are green. They slice the mango, and eat it with salt and some hot pepper. I’ve seen my wife stop busses just to rush a merchant with a cart full of green mangos a mile from our destination, and happily walk the rest of the way with a bag full of green mangos.

img_0907

Dragon fruit, or pitaya

Mangos. See any green ones?

Mangos. See any green ones?

Super H Mart
2550 Pleasant Hill Road
Duluth, GA 30096-4122
(678) 543-4000

The DeKalb Farmer’s Market is the grand daddy of all the large markets in this city, and huge doesn’t begin to cover it.  It’s at the corner of Laredo and Ponce De Leon, and the entrance to De Kalb is one of the four ways you can go at that light.  The parking lot is about a block in size and as large as the lot is, it is equally as large inside. Once inside, there is a vast array of vegetables, about as ordered as any market could be, with the produce marked by country of origin, name, and with a drawing of the produce to boot.

The wines, two aisles of them, are separated by country of origin and type. In between the wine are stacks of beers, everything from Miller Light to Belgian ales. Grains and beans? Just to look at two examples, they had red, green, yellow, brown, and French green (a smaller variety) lentils, along with whole mung beans, and plenty of dals. Quinoa? Not only did they have the white and red varieties, but also wild black quinoa, not seen anywhere else that I’ve looked. Nuts and candied fruits are available in large quantities, neatly sealed in plastic bags.

They have good breads, and one thing I bought the day I was here was a sack full of whole wheat rolls. They were tasty and chewy once I got them home, just perfect. Just past the breads and vegetables is the fish section, which in my opinion is the very best part of this store. When my wife is after the freshest fish she can get, she comes here. She comes here because of the selection of live fish, and the ease with which this place can clean those fish. Perhaps something compares in this city, but I haven’t found it yet.

Meats are past the fish, and they serve a startling variety of product. Besides fine beef, you can get rabbit here, quail and cornish hens, duckling, goat from Australia, and lamb from Colorado. You can get bison, if you want it. A selection of fine cheeses is nearby, slices off large wheels, and the dairy section, also nearby, has items unavailable anywhere else.

Before I do nothing but sing praises to this place, I’ll note a few downsides. It is full of people and often cramped here, more so in the smaller aisles. There are shoppers who park in those narrow aisles with their flock of full grown kids for eternity it seems, blocking everything. If you take a cart inside, PUT SOMETHING IN IT IMMEDIATELY. If you do not, your cart will be taken. Though this is an international market, with international vegetables, it is not a particularly good Asian market, and Asian staples like Asian (often called “Korean”) yams just aren’t here. Go to Super H Mart for those kinds of goods. Meats tend to be pricey and if you want cheap meats, a market like Lilburn International Farmer’s Market is a better choice.

Still, there is nothing like it in the city, and it comes with the highest of recommendations.

From Snellville, perhaps the fastest way to this market would be to head down 78, then south on 285, and take the Ponce De Leon exit westward. An alternative path is to take 78 to Scott Boulevard, Scott down to Clairmont Ave. Head south, and take Clairmont until it ends at Ponce De Leon (hang a left when Clairmont ends). If you get forced left on Commerce, just keep going. It runs into Ponce De Leon as well.

Super H Mart is the 900 pound gorilla of Asian markets in north Atlanta; it was the 900 pound gorilla even before it was completed. In the days the Park Village complex (at 2550 Pleasant Hill Road) was being built, the traffic jam that built up at the location was so large a cop was there perpetually, and I grew to the point I wouldn’t go near there, because the traffic was just that bad.

These days the Park Village complex is a reality, and Super H Mart centers it. Otherwise the complex is full of shops, such as Pho Mimi and White Windmill. But Super H is the main draw, and there are good reasons for that. For one: consider a store large enough to devote a whole aisle to kimchi. Now I know it’s really called the “Prepared Foods” aisle, but be real: 90% of the aisle is nothing but pickles, with the star of the pickles being kimchi. For those who have been there, the ‘H’ in Super H Mart must be an abbreviation for ‘huge’.

The store itself is circled inside with small restaurants, whose changes are documented exhaustively by bloggers such as Blissful Glutton and Chow Down Atlanta. The vegetables collection is focused towards Asians, but exhaustive enough to accommodate other cuisines. For example, the only place I’ve seen chilaca peppers is in Super H Mart. Other peppers found there include finger peppers, poblanos, cubanels, serranos and thai. Herbs? plenty of them, including things I can’t decipher from my notes anymore – ok, I can make out tia to. There are also things I’ve seen once or twice in other international markets, such as yu choy.

Meats? Lots of them, most of them cut to make Korean BBQ at home a reality. There are some stock western cuts and some food buys can be had there. I saw ribeyes for $4.49/lb and tbones for $6.99/lb. Fish are labeled with their country of origin, for those who dread the idea of eating Chinese fish. Lamb there was frozen and from Australia, but they were nice cuts, the best possible steak off the leg of lamb.

To some extent, the horrible traffic around that location has abated, but parking is still not the best. However, if you needed to shop for food, Super H Mart ranks among the best markets in Atlanta.

My wife was the one who asked me to check this place out, and in all honesty I was resistant to the notion. But it was an unusual day, I was heading home down highway 29, and it was there, at the southwest corner of Lawrenceville Highway and Indian Trail, just opposite the Tacqueria Los Hermanos. So I stopped.

Before I took a look there I checked in at a restaurant named RJ’s, which is French creole, a fusion of Caribbean and French cuisine. I had no time to eat but it looks too interesting to ignore forever.  I picked up a take out menu and headed into the market instead.

Lilburn International Farmer’s Market isn’t a farmer’s market in the traditional sense. It’s more an oversized grocery, a ethnic market on steroids. In this respect it’s no different from the Gwinnett International Farmer’s Market or DeKalb or Super H Mart, for that matter. It’s maybe a quarter of the size of Buford Highway Farmer’s Market or Super H Mart, but it has a decent collection of vegetables.  There is a competent and useful collection of peppers.  About the only complaint I could have was the cilantro that day didn’t have leaves all in a tight bunch, but was a little leggy. They had habanero, jalapeno, red jalapeno, long hot peppers, poblanos, etc.

But it was the meat collection that most impressed. You could see the butchers behind glass working and I didn’t have any doubts I could get one of them if I needed to. Meats were good looking, sealed in plastic, and at the price you expect when international markets price meat – meaning low low low. Ribeyes were 4.99 a pound. New York Strip was 1.99 to 3.99 a pound – hard to believe that was New York Strip. I bought a nice looking Sirloin for 1.99 a pound. Prices were so low I was pinching myself and asking, “Is that really the right cut of meat?” The sirloin, which I bought to try, certainly looked the part.

I checked some of the other aisles. The beans aisle was merely half an aisle as opposed to a whole aisle, but had most of the essentials. There was one rare find and that one was worth noting: they sell quinoa, and the quinoa is between 2.09 and 2.40 for a package that is slightly less than a pound. That makes it the least expensive source of this pseudocereal so far.

Inexpensive quinoa can be found at the Lilburn market.

Inexpensive quinoa can be found at the Lilburn market.

When I was checking out, the grocery carts I saw were full of meats and greens. The amounts were so large that people must have been doing a week’s or a month’s worth of shopping. This is a trend my coworker, Veronica, identified for me some time ago, this shift to international markets for low priced meats and ethnic butchers taking over for families looking to cut their meat prices.

Verdict? The price of meats alone makes this place worth a drive from Snellville. It’s easy to get to. You can head west down Ronald Reagan and then south down Highway 29 (will end up on your right, as you pass the 29-Indian Trail intersection), or you can head down Five Forks and turn right at Killian Hills, and continue just past the Highway 29  intersection and turn left.

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 248 other followers