- Dutch American Market for the wall of licorice.
- Fubonn to learn that Portland is more diverse than you think it is.
- H Mart because itâs a foreign country.
- La Tapatia for enormous chicharrones and whole banana leaves.
- Roman Russian Market for a taste of the Old World.
9151 SE Powell Blvd., 927-8485.
[RUSSIAN] I think they just use the produce to lure you into this mini-mart on the corner of Southeast 92nd Avenue and Powell Boulevard. While there's nothing wrong with the selection or quality, the more intriguing items are those lining the shelves and coolers along the wall: a cornucopia of goods imported from former Soviet countries. There's an entire shelf of tinned fish, a cooler with Bulgarian cheeses, and row upon row of loose candies with undecipherable names, sold by the pound. Adventurous eaters might pick out sweets based on the cryptic pictures or grab a jar of more unusual pickled goods. ABC offers several brands of imported sodas with flavors such as citron and tarragon, paired with a bottle of vodka at the liquor store on 82nd Avenue for a perfect summer beverage. If you speak Russian, the proprietress will be happy to help you practice your conversation skills. MHW.
Shopping list: Tarragon soda, tinned fish, Kinder treats.
710 NE Killingsworth St., 719-5361.
[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 stocks two other Mexican brands with flavors such as pineapple and grape. MHW.
Shopping list: Blue corn tortillas, instant horchata mix, plantain leaves, cornmeal for tamales.
An Dong Market
5441 SE Powell Blvd., 774-6527.
[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 (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., anoushdeli.com.
[EASTERN EUROPEAN] This unassuming little market, nestled in a strip mall anchored by a Winco, sports a mishmash of Greek and Eastern European sundries, including an entire aisle devoted to ajvar, the Serbian pepper-eggplant relish; whole wafer cookie sheets the size of a boogie board; Croatian and Russian canned goods; a rainbow of berry syrups; Russian beers; and Bosnian teas. The clientele appears to be mostly Greek, and mostly concerned with the fresh sausages and gyros available at the deli. You might be mostly concerned with the extensive and creatively packaged Armenian wine selection, in bottles shaped like everything from a goldfish to a high-heeled shoe. KM.
Shopping list: Four-pound black plastic keg of Greek olives, Kagor Moldovan wine (comes with free crucifix!), rose hip jam.
736 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 233-5111.
[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.
[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 of 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 beginners, the Eleni's Kitchen kulet sauces are made locally in Hillsboro and produce a truly sensational stew. RB.
Shopping list: Spices, injera, beans, lentils, Eleni's Kitchen mild red pepper sauce.
Boo Han Oriental Market
1313 SE 82nd Ave., 254-8606.
[KOREAN] This brightly painted box of a building on Southeast 82nd Avenue turns out to be a thoroughly stocked Korean supermarket, its capacious single room packed with many brands of kimchee, red chili paste, fermented soybeans and other staples of the cuisine. (If you really like kimchee, pick up one of the shop's 5-gallon ceramic fermenting crocks and start making your own.) A highlight is a large case of banchan, the intensely flavorful side dishes that accompany traditional Korean meals: candied squid, pickled radish, stewed lotus root and tiny fried fish. A small inventory of kitchenwares sits off to the side, but if you're looking for appliances you're better off driving to H Mart. BW.
Shopping list: Barley tea, roasted chestnuts, all sorts of spicy snack foods.
Bui Natural Tofu
520 NE 76th Ave., 254-6132, buitofu.com.
[SOY JOY] It's all about excellent, fresh tofu, whether it's fried and coated in lemongrass ($3), served hot 'n' plain with soy sauce (60 cents for 8 ounces) or mixed with onion and wrapped around a funky pork ball. Saigon natives Thuha and Minh Bui started their family-recipe tofu biz in the garage of their Portland home nearly a decade ago. Now the couple processes up to 200 pounds of soybeans a day. Still, they take time to proselytize about their favorite pressed bean curd. Minh says he still eats two trays of firm tofu for breakfast every morning. KC.
Shopping list: Fresh and fried tofu, sweet-and-sour sticky rice balls, soy milk, the best crunchy-fresh salad rolls in Portland.
4516 NE 42nd Ave., 493-2737.
[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 oxtail.
Dashen International Groceries
3022 NE Glisan St., 234-7785.
[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.
[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 beware of 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 cheese available, including a hard Frisian 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.
[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. Closed Monday.
[IMPERIAL EATS] History lesson: In the late 1800s, the British brought Indians to Fiji as indentured laborers to work on sugar plantations. Today, Indo-Fijians make up over a third of the country's population. And now you know why a grocery store called Fiji Emporium, about 5,741 miles from the tiny Melanesian island, is full of Indian food and Bollywood DVDs. In fact, the entire store is a testament to the incestuous culinary legacy of the British Empire: There's Indian curry sauces from England, English tea biscuits from India, Australian potato chips from New Zealand and Fijian-style New Zealand-brand sausages made in America. But unless you're a homesick Oceania expat, walk past the pricey (and often a bit stale) imported snack foods and head straight for the extensive spice shelves, and freezers jammed with Fijian favorites like goat meat, New Zealand lamb, fish, taro, cassava and breadfruit. RB.
Shopping list: Lamb chops, spices, ghee, mango pickles, kava powder, and if you still really want expensive imported snacks, chicken Twisties.
2850 SE 82nd Ave., 517-8877, fubonn.com.
[PAN-ASIAN, CHINESE] Michael Liu's mall boasts Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese restaurants, a Starbucks, 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, banh mi from the deli.
3975 SW 114th Ave., Beaverton, 641-3313.
[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 oil, noodles and dried seaweed lie sandwiched between a wall of drinks (rice wine, 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 6-pound tubs of chili paste and gallon jars of kimchee. NB.
Shopping list: Seasoned bracken, red bean ice cream, quail eggs, cuttlefish.
4107 SE 82nd Ave., 771-5171.
[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 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 Nikolas II tea.
13600 SW Pacific Hwy., Tigard, 620-6120, hmart.com.
[PAN-ASIAN, KOREAN] This awesome chain, with an outpost off Route 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 kimchee 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 deep into your skull. KC.
Shopping list: Kimchee, bitter melon, marinated beef and pork, Korean squid, milk jug of cow's blood, bulk chilies and rice, weird candy.
Hong Phat Market
9819 NE Prescott St., 254-8280.
[VIETNAMESE, ETC.] The only grocery in Maywood Park, this freshly painted building at the north end of town is your one-stop shop for large fruits. There are papayas, giant bananas, whole jackfruit, all brown and knobbly, alongside bags of pre-separated jackfruit flesh, and spiky durian, stashed in a freezer case to contain their distinctive rotten-onion odor. Hong Phat also excels in the frozen fish department, with several dozen sorts of icy fins in a long line of freezers, some 10 feet of which are devoted to shrimp alone. (Bring your Seafood Watch guide—many of these fish fail to comply with the city's standards of sustainable fishing practices and general virtue.) The market is to the best of our knowledge the only place in town selling loose frozen shrimp and sardines from an open freezer case. Buy in bulk! BW.
Shopping list: Cheap manila mangoes, durian, bundles of garlic scapes.
India Cash and Carry
5749 NW Cornelius Pass Road, Hillsboro, 439-8899, indiacashandcarrywholesale.com.
[INDIAN] I doubt anyone has ever just stumbled upon this 3-year-old shop located in an industrial complex in Hillsboro. Beyond the small sandwich board announcing it, there's nothing about this business in a long, gray building fronted by a parking lot that says "food store." If you're in the area and have a craving for Indian staples, stop by to purchase dried lentils and split peas, 20-pound bags of basmati rice, colorful ground and whole spices or boil-in-a-bag Indian food. There's nothing here you can't find at a closer-in Indian market. LC.
Shopping list: Bollywood DVDs, Indian bangles and barrettes, Indian spices, dried legumes.
India Sweets and Spices
16205 NW Bethany Court, Suite 110, Beaverton, 690-0499, indiasweetsandspices-oregon.net.
[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.
[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 leave 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.
[PACIFIC ISLANDER] The 3-foot radius inside the door of Harold and Renu Nath's box-cluttered island shop is all American mini-mart—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-looking frozen fish and halal lamb and goat. KC.
Shopping list: Sweet Pony Malta soda, frozen Samoan beef bangers, bagged chura, spices, Colt 45 malt liquor.
18330 SE Stark St., 491-1848.
[MEXICAN] Because it's attached to a riotously popular flea market, parking here may be an issue, but don't give up—this is by far the largest Mexican grocery in the area, well-stocked and sparkling clean. A staggering variety of bulk chilies both dried and fresh ring the extensive produce section, there's an entire aisle's worth of spices, and a little freezer case near the meat counter holds all manner of frozen delicacies and supplies, including difficult-to-find whole banana leaves for making tamales and cochinita pibil. KM.
Shopping list: Fresh xoconostle (sour prickly pear), dried chipotle chiles, rock incense.
11001 NE Halsey St., 255-0448, lily-market.com.
[THAI AND MORE] Amphaphone Jeung has been in the Portland grocery business so long that he has not only built his own building, but his own mixed-use building, with several apartments upstairs from the market. The 29-year-old shop is immaculately clean and impeccably organized, its aisles laden with Thai staples and delights from all over East Asia: Japanese ice cream, tea bags for seasoning pho broth, "fragrant wood incense," durian paste, fruit concentrate syrups and Japanese rice seasonings. When you're done shopping, grab a pair of fresh rolls and a fried banana from the on-site deli for the road. BW.
Shopping list: Wasabe-coated sesame seeds, housemade pickled fish, chili paste, sukiyaki sauce.
2138 and 2140 E Burnside St., 236-7195, luceevents.blogspot.com. Closed Monday-Tuesday.
[ITALIAN] There aren't many places in Portland where you can legally purchase nickel bags of anything, but at Luce, John Taboada's newest business (he also owns Navarre), you can buy tiny 1-ounce bags of precious fennel pollen for your next culinary adventure. Go wild. This new corner cafe on East Burnside Street has a few shelves of imported foods for sale, but mostly it's a great place to stay a while and eat some antipasti ($2 each) along with a glass or two of nice wine. You can also sup on soups, salads, pastas and specials such as baked stuffed trout, hanger steak or winter-vegetable stew with polenta. LC.
Shopping list: Rare honeys (bergamot, chestnut), true balsamic vinegar, Italian Faella pastas, many types of imported polenta, Swedish pastry brushes.
Martinotti's Cafe and Delicatessen
404 SW 10th Ave., 224-9028, martinottis.ypguides.net. Closed Sundays.
[ALIMENTARI AUTENTICI] In a city rife with chichi "European markets" peddling $40 balsamic vinegar and 13 kinds of salt, Martinotti's is a refreshing holdout: a slightly disheveled grocery and deli that feels most like a neighborhood store in a middle-class Italian town. You got your canned tomatoes, your dozen kinds of Di Cecco and your Perugina chocolates, haphazardly arranged along several narrow aisles, near a small television playing the local news. But don't be fooled by the unkempt façade. Martinotti's also stocks some hard-to-find imports and an impressive cheese case. More notably, the extensive wine and port collection goes back several decades and up several income brackets. And the little deli counter makes a pretty decent cappuccino, properly enjoyed at one of the homey little tables along the windows, watching the Portland passeggiata glide right on by. CB.
Shopping list: Amaretti di Saronno, fregola di Sardegna, nostalgia d'Italia.
Mercado Don Pancho
2000 NE Alberta St., 282-1892.
[MEXICAN] The floor is sticky and the spice selection is slightly anemic—Don Pancho is clearly better known for its taqueria than its groceries—but the Mexican candy selection at this brightly colored corner spot is unparalleled. In fact, the store seems to have a particular enthusiasm for toys and candy packaged together. (Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip wrapped with some sort of card game, plastic Easter eggs in a bag with colored marshmallows, et al.) Don't forget to grab some foil-wrapped Paletón Coronas, the ubiquitous-in-Mexico chocolate-covered marshmallow pop, at the checkout counter. KM.
Shopping list: Bimbo bread, carnitas, duros.
Merkato Ethiopian Music & Food
2605 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 331-9283. Closed Sunday.
[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.
Mingala International Market
2548 SE 122nd Ave., 954-1346.
[INDIAN, BURMESE, THAI] Myanmar native Yusuf Iqbal and his partners had trouble finding many of the ingredients they needed for Burmese home cooking. So they opened a small market in an outer-Southeast strip mall less than a year ago, stocking it with everything from dried betel leaves and ngapi fish pastes to fried bean snacks. Within a month, their Indian, Thai and Pacific Islander neighbors were clamoring for the international quickie mart to stock their own homelands' goodies. It did, and now Mingala has arguably the most eclectic, well-priced selection of Indian and East Asian goods on Portland's east side, including a rainbow of dirt-cheap lentils, very fresh spices, desi snacks, and frozen shrimp and fish. Plus, Iqbal runs his own impressive halal, cut-to-order meat operation sourced from local cows and goats in the back of the shop. "From A-to-Z, we do it," he says proudly, opening a huge walk-in fridge to show off an entire half of a cow hanging from a meat hook. "We look at the animal, if we like it, we slaughter it ourselves [at a USDA facility], butcher it and custom-cut it for you." Beat that, 7-Eleven. KC.
Shopping list: Dried lily bulbs, mango pickles, frozen samosas, custom-cut beef ($3.99 a pound).
Nam Phuong Market
6834 NE Sandy Blvd., 284-3549.
[VIETNAMESE, ASIAN] This cramped, starkly lit little store is perfect for emergency Asian condiment runs in between Fubonn trips. Sure, it's not pretty and there's no deli, but all the cheap Chinese and Vietnamese staples you never even knew you needed until a recipe called for them are here, from Golden Mountain seasoning and five kinds of oyster sauce to packs of dried persimmons (I am sure I will need these someday). Even better, Nam Phuong stocks a clutter of awesome, mass-produced weirdness including sparkly, oversized gold piggy banks and inexpensive, long-handled bamboo utensils durable enough to compensate for your pitiful wok skills. Consider it dinner prep and bargain birthday-present shopping in one. KC.
Shopping list: Bottled Asian sauces, fresh herbs and Bui tofu, frozen "Quack on a Rack" young ducking ($7.79 a pound).
Oriental Food Value
8303 SE Insley St., 775-8683.
[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.
Pacific Super Market
6750 NE Broadway, 251-0524.
[VIETNAMESE] A former Thriftway, this shabby supermarket perched on a ledge overlooking I-84 at some point shifted its focus way, way east, to Vietnam and Thailand. The new owners kept all the original store fixtures, including dangling apple-shaped slabs of translucent plastic over the checkout aisles, inserting the word "Pacific" into signage in a different typeface wherever necessary. The fairly standard dry-goods selection is enhanced by a large meat counter, a hot deli stocked with fried fish bits and packets of rice in banana leaves, and an unusually good produce section, where neat bundles of garlic scapes, watercress and eggplants the size and color of golf balls rest in plastic-wrapped stacks. BW.
Shopping list: Big bag of kumquats, Thai energy drinks, Cafe du Monde chicory coffee, banh mi loaves from the adjacent Binh Minh bakery.
Pars International Market
12923 NW Cornell Road, 350-2300, pars-market.com. Closed Sunday.
[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 Talepesand, a friendly Persian couple, and operates as both a grocery and deli, with a few culinary gems (rose petal preserves, for starters) 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 mloukhieh, smoked whitefish, housemade tabbouleh.
Roman Russian Market
10918 SE Division St., 408-7525.
[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, pierogi from Toronto.
Su Casa Imports
16100 SE Stark St., 253-8093.
[MEXICAN] Su Casa, while not the biggest Mexican grocery in the numbers, is more than sufficient in its supply of dry goods and produce, including the largest papayas I have ever seen—nearly the size of honeydew melons. Maya's Mexican Grill, a little restaurant with riotously colorful carved wooden chairs, lies hidden between shelves of rickety-looking wooden tortilla presses and a display of skull-themed car floor mats, each helpfully embroidered with the English word "skull." Don't miss out on the evidently quite popular "vaso de fruta"—a plastic cup filled with spears of tropical fruit, sprinkled with chili powder. KM.
Shopping list: Tortilla press, 1.5-liter bottle of Jarritos, belt buckle with a whole scorpion encased in resin.
Thanh Son Tofu
103 NE 82nd Ave., 517-9902. 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).
Tienda Santa Cruz
24 SE 82nd Ave., 408-4896; 8630 N Lombard St., 285-8222.
[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.
10500 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, 643-4512, uwajimaya.com.
[JAPANESE] Every Portlander has her reasons for making the occasional trek to Beaverton; food lovers often do so for the love of Uwajimaya. This Asian megastore with a parking lot as large as the shop itself is where it's at if you're looking for sushi, dim sum, sake tasting or Hello Kitty party supplies. The store gets extra points for offering up aisle after aisle of locally made as well as imported Asian products. Until the day we get our long-promised and probably entirely notional Uwajimaya in Chinatown, the Beaverton one will meet all of your passport-free Asian food and drink needs. LC.
Shopping list: Live Dungeness crab, all sorts of produce you've never heard of, locally made miso, affordable sake and soy sets.
Yesenia's/Tienda El Campesino
6611 SE Powell Blvd., 774-4124.
[MEXI-MART] New ownership has breathed life back into Yesenia's, soon to be Tienda El Campesino. The lights are back on in the taquería upstairs. The butcher case is brimming with chicken feet, steaks and lengua (beef tongue), and prepared goodies such as chicharrón (fried pig skin). The once-sad produce section is restocked with a rainbow of chilies, prickly chayote and leafy epazote. For a quick taco fix at home, load up on ready-prepared carnitas, a pack of housemade corn tortillas, white onion, cilantro and lime. In the back cases, you'll find deliciously yeasty bread perfect for torta sandwiches (another way to utilize those carnitas). And try the classic concha Mexican bread with sweet crumbly topping or the corn-cob-shaped elote cinnamon bread with apple filling. All the breads are baked on-site. DC.
Shopping list: Masa, carnitas, Mexican crema, beef for carne asada, pan dulce.
6922 NE Glisan St., 257-4105.
[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.