710 NE Killingsworth St., 719-5361. 8:30 am-9 pm daily.
[MEXICAN] This small produce shop and Mexican grocery, which has been in the neighborhood for only a year, features a wide array of produce from the familiar, Northwest-grown apples and pears to the more exotic mini-bananas, papayas and coconuts. Amigo's contains an odd mixture of items you might find in a Mexican corner store, including bags of dried chilies and herbs, cakes of laundry soap, pickled pig skins, spicy candies and tortillas of all sorts. The owner, who treats every customer as an amigo, has made an effort to make his shop a bit different from other tiendas as far as variety goes; he features unique items like Cornbrights, neon-colored corn puffs from El Salvador, and in addition to the familiar Jarritos sodas, Amigo's also stocks two other Mexican brands with flavors such as pineapple or grape. (MHW)
Shopping list: Blue corn tortillas, instant horchata mix, plantain leaves, and cornmeal for tamales.
5441 SE Powell Blvd., 774-6527. 9 am-7 pm daily.
[EAST ASIAN] Need an encyclopedic selection of Asian foodstuffs plus a full-service deli, spirits aisle and bubble tea counter? Well, that's Fubonn. But if you're just after cheap, huge containers of Chinese and Vietnamese staples without a crowd, An Dong is a great alternative. For more than two decades this big supermarket has supplied local Asian restaurants and adventurous neighbors with 30-pound bags of jasmine rice, giant packs of rice noodles, East Asian veggies, and a whole wall of jarred, mostly minced, fish (including the terrifying "snake-head fish"). Play snack roulette with brightly colored bags of dried sweet potato and sesame fish crisps, then head to the centrally located meat department, where a tiny Asian woman slices fresh, high-quality Oregon beef and pork into paper thin, shabu-shabu-ready sheets all day long (around $3.99 a pound), like some piece of TBA Festival performance art. The store smells funky. You have been warned. (KC)
Shopping list: Five-pound bag of curry powder, fresh whole gutted catfish, 8½-pound tub of sambal oelek, fresh seaweed.
1710 NE 122nd Ave., 254-7676, anoushdeli.com. 10 am-8 pm daily.
[EASTERN EUROPEAN] Those who make the trek out to 122nd Avenue are rewarded with an inclusive culinary glance into Eastern Europe. Anoush Deli's labels weave in and out of different alphabets, naming preserves and canned vegetables, pickled this and salted that. The meat counter displays a wide selection of imported salami and bologna. Alongside the usual array of spices, pastas and grains is a freezer full of cakes for all occasions and a large wall of wines, conveniently labeled by country of origin. While the market is devoid of produce, it boasts a selection of Eastern European magazines and a wall rack full of CDs—you'll get one free with every purchase of $30 or more, a sign on the counter promises. (BB)
Shopping list: Smoked mackerel, Young Walnut Preserve, Hungarian peppered salami).
736 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 233-5111. 9 am-6:30 pm Monday-Saturday, noon-5 pm Sunday.
[JAPANESE] This sturdy Japanese market has been open in one location or another in Portland since 1905 (aside from the family's "free government vacation," as third-generation owner Hiroshi Matsushima terms the store's 1941-46 hiatus). These days, a happy jumble of Asian groceries and cookware sprouts from every available surface, even the ceiling: fresh and frozen sushi staples; hot, steamed hum bao rolls and squid salad by the pound; more types of nori than found in the Pacific Ocean; and a whole fridge case devoted to sticky fermented soybeans called natto (shudder). Skip the store's emaciated veggie bin and stock up on pickled plums and dehydrated fruit snacks instead. Plus, lovely tea and sake sets, robes and paper umbrellas. (KC)
Shopping list: Locally made Jorinji miso, fresh sushi, soba noodles, mochi and fukujinzuke.
1815 NW 169th Place, Beaverton, 533-0424. 11:30 am-8:30 pm daily.
[Indian] Most folks who shop at this Indian market come for the standard fare of spices, lentils, rice and flour (and maybe the experience of buying groceries in a business complex for medical and software companies), but the sheer variety Apna offers should make it a gem for adventurous browsers. Start at the wall filled with thousands of DVDs, not just from Bollywood, but from Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, and Teluga studios as well. As you make your way to the opposite wall of flours made from everything grindable (bajra, chana, besan and moong dal, to name a few), pause to browse the aisles of classic sweets and snacks, like murukku and thattai. Head to the back of the store for freezers of kulfi and a small selection of fresh produce, including karela (bitter melon) and chayote. (NB)
Shopping list: Mustard oil, black salt, lime pickle, candied fennel seeds.
2322 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 281-0844. Call for hours.
[ETHIOPIAN FROM SCRATCH] There are several Ethiopian grocery stores on MLK, all of which might appear interchangeable to the naked Western eye. To the average dabbler, they more or less are, but there are subtle differences worth noting. Awash doesn't quite have the range of some its neighbors, but unlike the industrial-sized bulk offerings of those stores, it has much more reasonably portioned packages of spices, dried herbs, legumes and teff flour—far more appropriate for those just experimenting with African ingredients and recipes. Much of it is unlabeled, but don't be afraid to ask. There is usually fresh injera (the delicious spongy, sour flat bread that is a staple of Horn of Africa cuisine), but Awash also stocks electric injera grills—along with a modest range of other cookware—for those brave enough to attempt making their own. For absolute beginners, the Eleni's Kitchen kulet sauces are made locally in Hillsboro and produce a truly sensational stew with little effort. (RB)
Shopping list: Spices, injera, beans, lentils, Eleni's Kitchen mild red pepper sauce.
Barbur World Foods
9845 SW Barbur Blvd., 244-0670, barburworldfoods.com. 7 am-10 pm daily.
[MIDDLE EASTERN, MEDITERRANEAN] The Lebanese answer to New Seasons, Ya Hala owner John Attar's lovely Southwest Portland market carries specialties from countries ranging from Thailand to Bulgaria and back to American junk food, but its heart belongs to the Middle East and Greece. Grab marinated lamb, beef and chicken skewers for home kebabage, and then swing by the deli for lemony hummus, tangy vegan kibbeh and stewed lamb leg (this place believes strongly in free samples). And do wander through this former Piggly Wiggly's global wine and beer selection—it totals around 3,000 bottles and counting. (KC)
Shopping list: Rose water, phyllo dough, braided Karoun cheese, Ararat baked goods, halal meats, weird beers.
Bazaar International Market
10255 SW Canyon Road, 641-1352. 10 am-9 pm daily.
[Middle Eastern] Situated across from a car wash and tire center along roaring Canyon Road sits a quiet supermarket whose walls and aisles brim with Pakistani-Indian and Middle Eastern essentials, both edible and otherwise. Jars of pickled garlic and peppers keep company with canned fava beans, baba ghanouj, eggplant and grape leaves. Half a dozen varieties of tahini and assorted rices—available in 10-pound sacks or self-serve bulk—sit next to shelves of spices, from large volumes of cardamom to small bags of seasonings for specific dishes, like shawarma (the original gyros) and shish kebabs. Skip over the slim produce pickings on your way to the back of the store for an assortment of flatbreads, from naan to chapati to lavash, and a choice between fresh and frozen halal meats. Bazaar also stocks a number of household items, from Lebanese soap and henna to tea kettles and meat grinders. (NB)
Shopping list: Pickled lemons, laddu, ground goat meat, yogurt soda.
4516 NE 42nd Ave., 493-2737. 10:30 am-8 pm Tuesday-Saturday, 11 am-5:30 pm Sunday, noon-8 pm Monday.
[CARIBBEAN, AFRICAN] If you want to discover a new food or seasoning, head to the bright red, yellow and green Caribbean Spice and give yourself some time. Although the shop isn't too large, you'll find everything from unusual flours (plantain, fufu, farina) and spices (jerk and adobo blends) to a huge selection of frozen foods, including cow feet, cassava leaves and goat meat. There isn't too much of any one thing on the shelf, and most aisles are packed with double the diversity of a normal market aisle. Keep in mind the shop used to house a kennel, and there's still a loud alarm every time someone walks through the door. No, you did not just activate a bomb. (LC)
Shopping list: Adobo seasonings, Jamaican yams, large wooden mortars and pestles, frozen ox tail.
Dashen International Groceries
3022 NE Glisan St., 234-7785. 9 am-9 pm daily.
[LATIN AMERICAN] Tucked away among shelves brimming with Goya products and religious candles, there are some real gems in this convenience store-turned-Central American grocery. Where else in town are you going to find an entire aisle of foreign beverages, like Inca Kola, Ironbeer, Milca Soda Roja, Coco Solo, Jupiña, Materva Yerba Mate Soda, Mundet Manzana Verde and Sidral Mundet? The store's friendly but wary owner, Kebede Bogale, will probably keep a sharp eye on you while you explore the two narrow and packed aisles, but think of it as an excuse to strike up a conversation while paying for your special finds. (NB)
Shopping list: Queso fresco, salted pollock, lard, Cusqueña beer.
Dutch American Market
9575 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, 646-1518, dutchstore-oregon.com. 10 am-6 pm Monday-Saturday.
[DUTCH] If you can't afford the plane ticket to Amsterdam, drive down Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway and look for this import store, tucked into an unassuming mini-mall. You'll feel like you've left Portland as you listen to regular customers conversing in Dutch while they pick out Dutch pantry staples like jars of pickled peas or packages of chocolate sprinkles (served on buttered toast for breakfast!). There's an entire aisle of licorices, chocolates and other European sweets to choose from—but do beware the licorice marked "very salty." It is. By the deli case, co-owner and cheese connoisseur Hans Middelhoven encourages customers to sample the 20 or so varieties of cheeses available, including a hard Frisian cheese filled with whole cloves and a muted soft, goat-milk Gouda. Take home your favorites or have Hans create a sandwich for immediate consumption. (MHW)
Shopping list: Fuzzy or traditional wooden klompen, licorice by the pound, stroopwafels, blue-and-white pottery and tchotchkes.
East Africa Market
7830 NE Glisan St., 516-9378, 10:30 am-9 pm daily.
[EAST AFRICAN] Covered in stickers and lottery signs, this small store would be completely indistinguishable from its convenience-store neighbors were it not for the large orange banner proclaiming its ethnic offerings. Aweuys, the shop's friendly young owner, escaped Somalia when his home country erupted in civil war, living first in Kenya and then moving to the U.S. Most of the folks who patronize his store come for a steady supply of rice and spices, along with his freshly prepared sambusas (better known to us as samosas) filled with zesty potatoes and herbs. (NB)
Shopping list: Pilau mix, sambusa, mango pulp, coconut powder.
7814 N Interstate Ave., 240-2768, fijiemporium.com. 11 am-7 pm Tuesday-Sunday.
[EAST INDIAN, FIJIAN] You could get lost for hours in this cramped, incense- and spice-perfumed mashup of East Indian and island goods, stuffed with golden idols, bright saris and towering stacks of Bollywood DVDs. This place is an under-the-radar Indian-seasoning jackpot, with multiple kinds of masala and pound packages of turmeric and cumin for $7. A rainbow of lentils and rice lines one wall while pickles—garlic, lime, chile, star apple and mango varieties—as well as curries, mustards and a half-dozen types of ghee, line the other. The shop also sells Fiji waka powder ($19.95 a pound), from the root of the kava plant—the Pacific Islanders' mind-expanding after-dinner drink mix. (KC)
Shopping list: Cheap spices, mango pickles, lamb, Fiji waka powder.
Foti's Greek Deli
1740 E Burnside St., 232-0274. 10 am-7 pm Monday-Saturday.
[GREEK] Portland's only good Greek deli is best known for killer gyros and the video-game consoles in the corner, but Fotios Kosmas' (he's the gray-haired man in an apron behind the counter) 15-year-old East Burnside Street institution also offers three rows of imports: plenty of soda and beer, along with big jugs of olive oil, tins of stuffed grape leaves and cookies. (BW)
Shopping list: Beer Mythos, olive oil and a gyro with Greek fries.
Fruteria El Campesino
17871 SW Tualatin Valley Highway, Beaverton, 601-6006. 7:30 am-10 pm daily.
[MEXICAN] Chili heaven is in a strip mall along TV Highway. At Salvador Galvan's Mexican market, one whole wall, four shelves high, is devoted to dried chilies from across Mexico and Latin America—long, inky chile negros; cherry-shaped cascabels; morita; ancho; mild guajillo—as well as hot ground spices all packed away in plastic bags like an arsenal of flavor bombs. I defy you not to do a little dance along to the Mexican polka blaring on the speakers when you see it. The rest of the market is devoted to boxed and canned staples, hot sauces and a big open area for a rainbow of fresh produce—from orange habaneros to red peppers and green tomatillos to spiny chayote. There's no English signage at this piñata-festooned spot, but the Galvan family is muy helpful. (KC)
Shopping list: Five-pound bag of masa, dried chile negro, fresh habaneros, neon-red pimienton.
2850 SE 82nd Ave., 517-8877, fubonn.com. 9 am-8 pm daily.
[PAN-ASIAN, CHINESE] Michael Liu's mall boasts Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese restaurants, a Starbucks, a tea shop, bakery, jeweler, bulk candy bin, bubble tea counter, dentist, and marble statuary seller, but the core of the beast is the expansive Fubonn supermarket itself, which stocks every Asian staple your heart could desire—including actual animal hearts as well as intestines, ears, feet and even bung. For the less organ-obsessed, there are acres of rice, noodles, frozen seafood, cheap local and exotic produce, sauces, curries and arcane health tonics, plus kitchenware. Visit the refrigerated beverage aisle to have your mind blown—artichoke soda? (KC)
Shopping list: Dried cuttlefish snack, taro root bubble tea, hoisin and chili sauce, fresh and dried noodles, bahn mi from the deli.
3975 SW 114th Ave., 641-3313. 9 am-9 pm daily.
[Asian] Mainly a Korean grocery, but also a sort of one-stop shop for all things East Asian, this medium-sized market offers frozen, fresh, bottled and boxed foods from Korea, Japan, China and Thailand. Aisles packed with every imaginable variety of cooking oils, noodles and dried seaweed lie sandwiched between a wall of drinks (rice wines, Thai tea, aloe vera juice, Korean energy drinks) and freezer chests of cow feet and tripe. Many of the store's ingredients can be purchased in gargantuan amounts, such as the six-pound tubs of chili paste and gallon jars of kimchi. (NB)
Shopping list: Seasoned bracken, red bean ice cream, quail eggs, cuttlefish.
4107 SE 82nd Ave., 771-5171. 10 am-9 pm Monday-Sat, 11 am-7 pm Sunday.
[EASTERN EUROPEAN] More so than any of Portland's other Eastern European markets, walking in the door of Good Neighbor feels like entering a foreign country. Almost all the labels are in Cyrillic, and the staff and customers chat in languages that are not your own. The shelves are stocked with produce, preserved meats, multiple sorts of smoked fish, the full lineup of ZerGüt's imports from Eastern Europe, buckets of mysterious candies, cheeses, huge bags of flour, and breads, cakes and cookies from Eurobake. (BW)
Shopping list: House-pickled cabbage and Czar Nicholas II tea.
13600 SW Pacific Highway, Tigard,
620-6120, hmart.com. 9 am-10 pm.
[PAN-ASIAN, KOREAN]T his awesome chain, with an outpost off Highway 99W in Tigard, is the Korean answer to Fred Meyer: You've got your cheap, portable gas grills, flip-flops and excellent Asian produce and tropical fruit selection over here (complete with a machine that cuts pineapple to order) and dynamite smoked, dried and very fresh fish department over there (ask for the seafood manager if you need help navigating the waters). And that? Oh, that's just the sweet, salty, spicy Asian idea of an open-air salad bar, where a pack of Korean ladies sets out for sampling a magnificent selection of kimchi and salted and stewed marine life and veggies, from squid and sea squirt to lotus root, tofu, seaweed and whiting roe in bulk containers on fold-out tables in the middle of the aisle between the deli and bakery. Right next to the sushi shop, Chinese noodle cafe, futuristic phone kiosk and puffed rice-cake machine that goes BANG! every time it spits out another crispy disc for the kids. This huge, clean, brightly lit store is not the easiest place to get your bearings (its website is still in Korean), but think of it as a foreign country—smile a lot, ask the staff for help, and just bounce along as the speakers drill Asian pop tunes ever deeper into your skull. Where else can you buy both a $500 smart toilet and the most delicious, cheapest, thin-sliced marinated beef and pork in town? (KC)
Shopping list: Kimchi, bitter melon, marinated beef and pork, Korean squid, milk jug of cow's blood, bulk chilies and rice, weird candy.
Hong Phat Vietnamese Market
9819 NE Prescott St., 254-8280. 9 am–9 pm daily.
[VIETNAMESE] Walk in the door and you're greeted by a poster of a smiling Vietnamese child in traditional garb imploring you to enjoy your shopping. Another step brings you to a stand with Thai bananas across from a refrigerated wall of "grass jelly drink," beer and bottled coffees. Hong Phat has a nice variety of products (one huge aisle wall is devoted to sauces) and a friendly staff, happy to direct you through the store's daunting collection of frozen fish, calamari and shellfish. The produce section is robust as well, with oodles of fresh herbs, vegetables and hard-to-find fruits (durian: $1.79 a pound). You'll also find a wall of imported sweets and a small cookware department with an assortment of skillets and pots. (BB)
Shopping list: Pig feet, whole striped bass, Thai bananas, duck balut.
India Sweets and Spices
16205 NW Bethany Court, Beaverton, 690-0499, indiasweetsandspices-oregon.com. 10 am-8:30 pm daily.
[INDIAN] Formerly known as India Direct, India Sweets and Spices is maddeningly hard to find, but name change or no, the store still delights with its selection of Indian mainstays—provided you notice the partially hidden back room. Whether you opt for a prepackaged garam masala or choose to assemble one of your own from the myriad bulk items, the shop has you covered. Once laden with your Spice Road booty, either have a seat and order from the dining room while enjoying the ambience of Bollywood television or grab a spicy sambar cracker mix to munch on the way home. (BP)
Shopping list: Urad dal, papadum, whole dried mace.
International Food Supply
8005 SE Stark St., 256-9576, internationalfoodsupply.com. 10 am-8 pm Monday-Saturday, 11 am-6 pm Sunday.
[MEDITERRANEAN] The Attar family's other Mediterranean market—they also own Barbur World Foods and Ya Hala Restaurant—is the cheeriest place to shop in Montavilla. Racks of good olive oil, bulk grains and spices, imported cheeses, all sorts of canned goods and excellent, cheap vacuum-packed olives shine under bright light flooding in from the storefront windows, each item calling out, "Buy me! Eat me!" While you can't beat the shop for value (a kilo of good black olives is just $7.38), it's tough to break away with less than $20 worth of great stuff. (BW)
Shopping list: One pound of bulk bulgur, Mustapha's Rose Water, labneh and those amazing olives.
1463 NE Killingsworth St., 282-2831. 10:30 am-9 pm daily.
[PACIFIC ISLANDER] The 3-foot radius inside the door of Harold and Renu Nath's box-cluttered island shop is all American minimart—smokes, Pepsi, Lemonheads and gummy treats. But explore any deeper and you'll hit Africa, Jamaica, Tonga and Micronesia in turn, with aisles devoted to jerk seasonings and unfamiliar spices, tinned meats, lentils, fried peas and giant tins of cabin biscuits. A quartet of junky freezer cases hog much of the floor space, full of prehistoric-lookin' frozen fish and halal lamb and goat. (KC)
Shopping list: Sweet Pony Malta soda, frozen Samoan beef bangers, bagged chura, spices and Colt 45.
18330 SE Stark St., Gresham, 491-1848. 8 am-10 pm daily.
[MEXICAN] The largest Mexican supermarket this side of Cornelius shares a building and an air of tired festivity with the Oregon Flea Market. Dozens of star-shaped piñatas dangle from the dropped ceiling, Maná blares from the PA and a sign on the bakery case reads, "Please don't poke the empanadas." Beneath the piñatas lie whole aisles of dried chilies; tortillas in white, yellow and black; and bulk bins of churritos and duros. The centerpiece of La Tapatia is the meat counter, filled with fat rings of sausage, liter tubs of cheap lard and swaths of fried pig skin. (BW)
Shopping list: A flat of Mexican Coke, tortilla press, 3-foot chicharrón.
11001 NE Halsey St., 255-0448, lily-market.com. 10 am-8 pm daily.
[THAI] When you think you've seen every Asian spice, condiment and variation on pork rinds available, motor over to Amphaphone Jeung's goldenrod-hued palace and prepare to have your taste buds schooled. Although the homey, super-organized store, which the family has run for 25 years, specializes in Thai staples (who else needs four varieties of frozen, chopped lemongrass?), its aisles-long selection of noodles, hard-to-find strains of rice, fish and shrimp pastes, and frozen exotic fruits are the answer to many a pan-Asian recipe head-scratcher. When you're done shopping, grab a mountain of funky-fishy pad Thai and a fried banana from the on-site deli and hunker down near the tropical fish tank to people-watch. (KC)
Shopping list: Thai hot basil, 5-pound bag of fresh noodles, and a Thai TV-show rental on VHS.
Martinotti's Cafe and Deli
404 SW 10th Ave., 224-9028, martinottis.ypguides.net. 7 am-1 pm Monday-Friday, 8 am-3 pm Saturday.
[ITALIAN] This market and deli, located downtown only a few blocks south of Powell's, is haphazardly but pleasantly arranged. Shelves of imported Italian foodstuffs meet at odd angles, while every otherwise-unoccupied flat surface has been filled with a box of sweets. Though some of the imports seem to add only a price bump and a "from Italy" tag (I don't need Italian kidney beans), Martinotti's has a wide selection of worthwhile Italian noodles, meats, cheeses and wines, as well as the aforementioned sweets. In the rear of the store lurk Italian and otherwise European wines, the most decadent a glass case of ports ranging from $100 to a $2,000 bottle of Fonseca 1948. (BB)
Shopping list: De Cecco Zita pasta, Amaretti Virginia cookies, mortadella, three-year-old Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Mercado Don Pancho
2000 NE Alberta St., 282-1892. 8 am-9 pm daily.
[MEXICAN] The housemade lime-cilantro salsa is a puckery wonder, and there's tortilla dough ($3.99 for 5 pounds) from Sandy's La Milpa family tortilleria for sale in the cooler. For casual Mexican cooks, this piñata-festooned mercado covers all the bases. Marvel at the selection of jarred jalapeños, moles and 6-pound cans of chilies in adobo before heading back to the cheap meat counter for a pound or three of marinated pork and some house carnitas or chicharrónes. Plus, some American groceries and a nice produce selection, too. (BW)
Shopping list: Queso fresco, house salsa, Styrofoam tortilla warmer, order of roasted chicken and beans from the adjoining taquería.
Merkato Ethiopian Music & Food
2605 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 331-9283. 9:30 am-9:30 pm Monday-Saturday.
[ETHIOPIAN, CONVENIENCE] In re-creating the small shops of their home countries, a handful of Portland's entrepreneurial newcomers have started businesses that seem to toe a fine line between convenience store and international market. Merkato is perhaps the finest example of this phenomenon, with towering shelves of lentils and spices rubbing shoulders with PBR and coffee creamer in a small establishment that also stocks Ethiopian CDs, incense, clothing, wine, flour, oil, cigarettes and lottery cards. Yadi, the store's female owner, sells freshly prepared injera to many of its loyal customers. (NB)
Shopping list: Injera, Bati beer, cheap wine, Ethiopian biscuits.
Nam Phuong Market
6834 NE Sandy Blvd., 10 am-7 pm daily.
[VIETNAMESE] This market across the street from Northeast Sandy Boulevard's Safeway sells cock for 98 cents a can. That's right—the shelf label for the canned young green jackfruit reads "cock." Seems pretty dang cheap to me. In Nam Phuong's small produce section you'll find a decent array of the usual East Asian market suspects, including lots of fresh herbs. The meat counter is mostly pork and beef, there's a good selection of frozen seafood and the aisles are crowded with everything from home kitchen supplies to canned young tamarind leaf, dried mushrooms, sacks of dried noodles and chili sauces. (LC)
Shopping list: Fresh shredded green papaya, quail eggs, bag of pickled mustard greens.
Oriental Food Value
8303 SE Insley St., 775-8683. 9 am-8 pm daily.
[SOUTHEAST ASIAN] Don't want to deal with the weekend rush at Fubonn? Head south to this former electronics store, barely remodeled into a market (neon signs reading "car stereo" and "color TV" are still visible) stocked with the greatest hits of Southeast Asia. The variety of goods on the shelves is impressive: Thai noodles, preserved periwinkles, lots of dried and frozen fish, and more Filipino products than any other large Asian grocer on 82nd Avenue. The expansive housewares section contains both 26-inch steel woks and the enormous propane burners required to heat them, along with aisles heavy with ceramics and dozens of pallets of rice from Thailand, China and California. The cashiers are genuinely friendly; on a slow day, they're likely to keep you chatting for a while. (BW)
Shopping list: Whole lotus leaves, duck feet, pork face, banana chips, pickled fish.
Pars International Market
12923 NW Cornell Road, 350-2300, pars-market.com. 9 am-7 pm Monday-Friday, 10 am-6 pm Saturday.
[MIDDLE EASTERN] Situated in a petite strip of yoga centers and acupuncturists, Pars feels like the Pearl's version of an international market—except it's in Cedar Mill. The small store is run by Azar and Iraj Talepasand, a friendly Persian couple, and operates as both a grocery and deli, with a few culinary gems (rose petal preserves, for starts) among more customary ingredients. There are the grapeseed and avocado oils, the bulk bins of lemon almonds and red melon seeds, the wide sheets of sangak and Afghan bread and the compulsory rack of Sadaf spices. Dried fruits abound, most notably golden sour prunes and barberries. Don't leave without a pint of saffron ice cream in one hand and a hot shawarma in the other. Also your go-to place for personal bidets. (NB)
Shopping list: Tamarind paste, frozen mloukhiyeh, smoked whitefish, housemade tabbouleh.
Roman Russian Market
10918 SE Division St., 408-7525. 9 am-11 pm daily.
[RUSSIAN] What looks from the street like a modest grocery and video store (despite the enormous placard reading, "10% Discount on $30 Purchases w/Store Card [Details Inside...]") holds a labyrinth of wonders: deli cases of dozens of cheeses, smoked fish, cured meats, fried treats and cosmetics; rows of pickled mushrooms and okra and pepper and capers; curious snack foods; a whole room of baked goods. The women behind the counters are willing to guide shoppers through the various desiccated fishies, and you will need their help—all of Roman Russian's wares are available in befuddling variety. (BW)
Shopping list: Pomegranate juice, "sweet corn sticks," smoked sulguni, pierogis from Toronto.
Su Casa Imports
16100 SE Stark St., 253-8093. 7 am-10 pm daily.
[MEXICAN] One of the strangest businesses it has ever been my pleasure to experience, Su Casa contains not only a well-appointed supermarket but a taqueria, a jewelry department, racks of guitars, colorful toys and even a tiny selection of clothes. Of the most interest to us are the five-doored bakery case, full of fresh, sugar-dusted cookies and breads, and a complete meat counter. I counted three kinds of feet (pig, steer, chicken), five sorts of marinated pork and an awful lot of menudo. (BW)
Shopping list: Empanada de fresa, pork al pastor, diamond ring.
Thanh Son Tofu
103 NE 82nd Ave., 517-9902. 9 am–7 pm daily. Cash only.
[VIETNAMESE TOFU] It's all about the tofu at Thanh Son. This family-owned deli offers banh mi, pho and a buffet of brightly colored Vietnamese desserts (che) sold by the pound—including a cassava-and-coconut mixture that tastes delightfully like coconut gummy worms—but the housemade tofu is the standout here. Available raw and in fried chunks flavored with green onion or lemongrass and chili, this stuff could convert even the most vehement tofu-hater. If you can't wait until you get home before digging in, grab a drink from the cooler and take a seat at one of the tables, where you can chow down while watching Vietnamese music videos on the TV. (MHW)
Shopping list: Fried onion tofu, raw tofu, green papaya salad with pineapple, tofu/taro/carrot eggrolls (or a similar meat option).
Thanh Thao Market
6517 NE Sandy Blvd., 284-4129. 9 am-9 pm Monday-Friday, 8 am-9 pm Saturday-Sunday.
[VIETNAMESE, EAST ASIAN] Imagine the full spectrum of groceries available at Uwajimaya or Fubonn crammed into a space the size of a large convenience store. That's Thanh Thao Market. There's a wide selection of fresh fruits (helpfully labeled in Vietnamese), frozen seafood and Asian pantry staples as well as a meat counter and selection of prepared foods. Try the cha lua, a pork pâté wrapped in banana leaves and made in-house. To save customers a trip to Southeast Portland, Than Thao also carries a good selection of treats from the well-loved An Xuyen Bakery on Foster Road. (MHW)
Shopping list: Fifty-pound bags of jasmine rice, durian fruit, bao mix, and coconut in all forms: drinks, dried, milk and frozen bars.
Tienda Santa Cruz
24 SE 82nd Ave., 408-4896; 8630 N Lombard St., 285-8222. 7 am-10 pm daily.
[MEXICAN BAKERY] This neighborhood store and panaderia might not look like much, but it contains some delicious gems in the form of fancily frosted cakes (made to order or select from available offerings), salty-chewy Oaxacan cheese and 1.5-liter bottles of the entire Jarritos line. If you can brave the piñata-darkened space and the cluttered aisles—the better to fit all the imported candy!—you'll reach the brightly lit wall of coolers containing freshly baked, sugar-coated Mexican pastries. The second location in St. Johns is more spacious, with a meat counter and a no-fuss taqueria tucked into the back of the store. The taqueria offers ridiculously tasty $1 tacos—don't forget to add those to your shopping list. (MHW)
Shopping list: Virgen de Guadalupe candles, Spider-Man piñatas, Pulparindo tamarind candy, Oaxacan cheese.
Tortilleria y Tienda de Leon
16225 NE Glisan St., 255-4356. Call for hours.
[MEXICAN] It takes some courage to enter this wee market. Its neighbor, with which it shares a parking lot, is a plasma bank, and de Leon tends to be surrounded by that establishment's vacant-eyed and incompletely toothed customers. Inside, half the lights are out, but the deli case is a thing of beauty. The steam trays are filled with bright green and reddish brown sauces in which bubble lumps of juicy pork and beef. The tortillas are made in-house (by Mario, according to the label), and they are warm and tender. Don't forget to grab a chile relleno—they're filled with cheese, battered, deep-fried and drenched in fiery salsa. (BW)
Shopping list: One pound carnitas, bag of tortillas.
10500 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Beaverton, 643-4512, uwajimaya.com. 7 am-10 pm Monday-Saturday, 9 am-9 pm Sunday.
[JAPANESE] Many locals are atwitter over the idea that this Seattle-based Asian mega-store may open an outpost in downtown Chinatown. That's because smart cooks have been motoring out to Beaverton for a small island nation's worth of sushi-grade fresh fish (cleaned and cut to order), live Dungeness crab ($7.99 a pound) and bivalves, inexpensive produce and tough-to-find Hawaiian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese and other Asian ingredients for years. The big, well-organized, English-friendly supermarket is king when it comes to its selection of seaweed, soy sauces, packaged ramen and rice candies. Add in a deli, Kinokuniya bookstore, Shiseido makeup outlet, pretty cookware section, and Hakatamon, its tasty adjacent Japanese restaurant, and you've got a day in the 'burbs. (KC)
Shopping list: Kewpie mayo, spicy poke by the pound, radioactive yellow pickled radish, live Kumamoto oysters.
6922 NE Glisan St., 257-4105. 11 am-8 pm daily.
[MEDITERRANEAN] To find Zaky Grocery as you're driving down Northeast Glisan Street, look for a Domino's Pizza with solar panels on the roof. Zaky shares a parking lot with this place. As possibly the only customer in this small grocery, you may receive undue attention from the proprietress, who followed my progress up and down each aisle, helpfully pointing out her housemade flatbread-style pita and sharing her favorite recipes for the intriguing giant lima beans I selected. Though it does not have as broad a selection as International Food Supply on Stark Street, Zaky is a good bet for Mediterranean staples like olive oil, cured olives, za'atar, cumin and other spices, as well as regional cheeses and dried or canned beans. And the pita was delicious. (MHW)
Shopping list: Jordanian olive oil, housemade pita bread, jugs of olives, za'atar seasoning.