A Quick Guide to Chef Nate’s Favorite Asian Markets in St. Louis
One of my all time favorite weekend activities is to eat Dim Sum at Lu Lu’s or Wonton King on Olive and then hit the Asian markets for popsicles, dumplings, seafood and odd produce! Its much more than a trip to the store, its an adventure! The people, the smells and the culture make this this a true STL experience. Here are my favorites spots and what to get from each.
East East: Located in Jeffery Plaza next to All Star Tattoo. This is a great place to get snacks and essential ingredients, with a heavy Japanese selection of sauces, lots of rice and small amounts of produce. I have bought several Japanese mandolins there as well as a vegetable turner. They have a few knives and some wicked garden tools! Another reason to stop by is for the cold selection of Asian coffee in a can and fermented bean candy. This is one of the smallest shops but a fun intro to shopping the markets.
The market next to Wonton King: The best deals on large bottles of Chinese tea! 1/2 the price of the other markets for green and black tea. This place has great coffee and tea presses super cheap and a good amount of small cooking utensils. Lots of dry goods and candy take up the majority of the space and you can find a small selection of seafood and meats (I haven’t tried any yet).
The Olive Farmers Market: Newly renovated with a small restaurant inside. This is my favorite because this place has it all! Not the biggest, but I think its the best. Some times the smell is a little funky so be ready for that. Aisles of all types of canned fish, fermented sauces and oils, tea and tons of dry goods take up most of the center store. The meat is shady but full of assortment. The fish is fresh and mostly still alive (literally). The best part, by far, is the frozen section; dim sum style and the best dumplings on the planet (from California). The home goods are amazing with traditional woks, rice cookers, burners and tons of tools! This is my true go-to market.
Seafood City: The big bad semi Asian market, which is now also breaking into Mexican and Portuguese items. The produce is less than desirable, but the knives and tools are abundant. This place is fun! There’s so much fish you are overwhelmed, including live trout and koi fish super cheap! The shrimp still have the heads on! Even if you aren’t looking for anything specific, just walking around this market is an adventure.
Thanks and have fun!!!!!!! Nate