East African Halal Meat and Deli
7830 NE Glisan St., 432-8600.
East African Halal Meat and Deli might have the façade and feel of a gas station, but don't let that fool you. Inside, the very air smells like heaven, that is, if your version of heaven comes stocked with cardamom, curry powder and cloves. Located in the former 7 Days Food Market, this bit of Africa on Northeast Glisan sells not only spices and halal meat, but rugs, robes and beauty products. The rugs, bright and tight of weave, slump against the wall like tired workers taking a smoke break. DEBORAH KENNEDY
Shopping list: Basmati rice, mango pulp, sesame oil, garlic paste, butter ghee, sugarcoated chickpeas, puck cream, chicken bouillon.
839 N Killingsworth St., 283-8732.
Rarely does it bode well when a shop advertises "koffee and phone cards and fresh beef," but this family-run Ethiopian shop has a large variety of hard-to-get African spices along one wall, many of which you've probably never heard of, alongside bulk-portioned bulgur wheat and teff and lentils galore. The shop is also delightfully friendly; after purchasing some berbere powder, one of the shop's owners happily offered instructions for making raw-beef kitfo using the halal beef the store sells from the back. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Teff, spices, Ethiopian coffee.
4516 NE 42nd Ave., 493-2737.
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. LIZ CRAIN.
Shopping list: Adobo seasonings, Jamaican yams, Jamaican beef patties, large wooden mortars and pestles, frozen oxtail.
1463 NE Killingsworth St., 282-2831.
Within a 3-foot radius of the front door, Harold and Renuka Nath's box-cluttered island shop is all-American minimart—smokes, Pepsi, Lemonheads and gummy treats. But explore 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, tins of cabin biscuits and even Indian spices. A quartet of freezer cases hog much of the floor space, full of prehistoric-looking frozen fish and halal lamb and goat. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Pony Malta soda, frozen Samoan beef bangers, spices, Colt 45 malt liquor.
Maung Mingala International Market
2548 SE 122nd Ave., 954-1346.
Squeezed between Pizza Baron and a Cricket store, Maung Mingala International Market does, as the cliché goes, have a little something for everyone. Maybe you're on the hunt for a large area rug. Look no further. Or some henna for your hair. Check. Perhaps you need an entire side of beef. There it is, in the back, next to the fresh produce case full of kafir leaves. Mingala is international in every sense of the word and has a warehouse feel for a reason. Under its high ceilings are delicacies hailing from China, India, Thailand and Japan. Oh, and Myanmar. It's where Aung San Suu Kyi would shop. DEBORAH KENNEDY.
Shopping list: Jasmine rice, instant rice noodles, cuttlefish crackers, Sriracha sauce, sardines, lentils, mud fish, ginger, chili powder, shrimp paste.
Dutch American Market
9575 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, 646-1518, dutchstore-oregon.com.
Like Holland itself, Hans Middelhoven's shop is tiny and full of indulgences. It's also home to a Dutch-speaking community you probably didn't know existed nearby-—to a German-speaker, the language is frustratingly just out of comprehension. From pickled peas to Delft pottery and, yes, wooden shoes, it's an enclave of the traditional and exotic among Dutch goods, especially fine cheeses from Gouda to Frisian. But let's be honest. you're here for licorice and pancake mix and double-decker waffle wafers, and they've got them in spades. Especially the hard black salt licks that make Australian licorice seem like it was made by a pack of pansies. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Ontbijtkoek bread, Gouda cheese, raw herring sandwiches, stroopwaffels, chocolate Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) letters.
9151 SE Powell Blvd., 927-8485.
Walk into Lilia Safronova's Ukrainian produce market on Powell and you'll be greeted by the tangy smell of ripe fruit and crisp greens. Three years into existence, this small strip-mall store stocks things by season. Right now, apples. Soon, persimmons and cherries and apricots. There's also a large selection of sweets, tea and Russian soft drinks. And don't forget to grab a box of Babaev chocolate and some pickled herring on you way out the door. DEBORAH KENNEDY.
Shopping list: Buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt, roasted sprats in tomato sauce, rye bread, sausage, beets, pickled eggs, farmer cheese.
4107 SE 82nd Ave., 771-5171.
Good Neighbor might be next door, but it's a different world: You've got to know what you're doing here. Aside from the selection of Eurobake breads and cakes so ample the store might as well be an outlet, most labels are printed in Cyrillic with only occasional nods to English. The mineral water comes from Borjomi in Georgia, caviar can be had for $3 a container, and you can pick up fresh ajika or eggplant salad in the back, as well as an eye-crossing variety of canned mushrooms and pickled tomatoes, deli-case pressed meats and sausages, and frozen pelmeni—Russian pierogi—from the front freezer case. Just be patient when ordering in the wrong language—English—at the stocked meat and cheese case. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Eurobake breads, pickled anything, smoked fish, soap shaped like an angel.
Roman Russian Market
10918 SE Division St., 408-7525.
Hanging outside the Roman Russian Market is a large yellow banner that reads "Pray for Ukraine." Not a bad idea. Not a bad idea at all. In fact, this market, owned and operated by the estimable and hairnetted Fatima, is full of great notions. Consider the Frisbee-shaped, mouthwatering lavash bread, made onsite, or the deli's 16 different varieties of bologna. You can also pick up a bottle of Aramis aftershave, a gyro or a Russian bridal magazine. Speaking of nuptials, why not get rid of that old wedding ring while you're at it? The folks at Roman Russian pay cash for gold. DEBORAH KENNEDY.
Shopping list: Caviar, mackerel, dry squid in a bag, vegetable spread, horseradish, sulguni cheese, marinated mushrooms, Ceylon tea.
1815 NW 169th Place, Beaverton, 533-0424, apnabazaarpdx.com.
There are no frills at this shop, tucked with extraordinarily minimal signage into a boxy parking-lot field of offices devoted to medical supplies, computer programmers and God knows what else—everything Lloyd Dobler hates. But behind the uninviting door Apna is charming, with a lovely row of produce that sometimes includes rarities like snake gourd, opo squash and methi leaves, shelves with lentils in a rainbow of earth tones, an insane amount of flour grains, spicy pickled vegetables, frozen dosas and vada pav, fresh chapati and Maggi snacks (because Maggi is everywhere). And if you're hungry on the spot, they've got an Indian cafe next door—also in the office park. There's nothing you can't do in an office park. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Fresh exotic produce, frozen samosas and idli, ghee, moong dal, Bollywood videos, Ayurvedic remedies.
NEW! Bollywood Theater
3010 SE Division St., 477-6699, bollywoodtheaterpdx.com.
Bollywood's new restaurant out Division way offers what amounts to kind of a wonder—an Indian market on the east side. It's a tidy affair, if also a bit chaotically stocked. Its big spinning spice rack has exotic sumac and banal chili powder, but somehow doesn't have a staple like cumin, and there's an odd obsession on the store's shelves for multiple varieties of jaggery—with equal variety of puffed rice—and for multiple goofball sweet sodas like Thums Up, a localized Coca-Cola that tastes a bit like betel nut. But from a useful selection of flours and rices to a lovely variety of lentils to a sidebar of pungent pickled mixed veggies in multiple brands, the little shop is a stopgap utility for cooks, and also a terrific browsing outpost for lookie-loos wandering over from lunch for a touch of the exotic. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Lentils, spices, and sodas. Non-sugar sweeteners.
10255 SW Canyon Road, 641-1352, bazaarfood.com.
Despite its proximity to several upper-middle-class residential enclaves, Canyon Road's stretch between Highways 26 and 217 is like a classier version of 82nd Avenue, with Kuni BMW instead of used-car lots. Packed in between are spots like Bazaar Market, a clean, spacious purveyor of Middle Eastern and subcontinental fare. There's a fine selection of tea and spices, and enough rice to boggle the mind. The front deli has plump samosas and other assorted delicacies on hand, and the meat department in back is well-stocked. JORDAN GREEN.
Shopping list: Samosas, stuffed grape leaves, cracked olives, and any kind of rice you could possibly want.
736 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., 233-5111.
Leaving aside the disturbing "for sale" sign out front, Anzen Hiroshi remains a bunker of wonder amid the shelled-out city surrounding the Convention and Lloyd centers. Like the TARDIS, it's a lot bigger on the inside—and the 1905-founded store is just as much a time capsule as it is a culinary and cultural transport. As you enter, it looks like a tiny, crowded collection of tea sets and knickknacks, but investigation reveals a generous back room with a beautiful sushi butchery, plus a ridiculous variety of noris, short-grained rice brands, Japanese snacks and pickled preserves. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Sliced marlin, nori, short-grained rice, pickled ginger, spiced pickled radish.
812 SE Stark St., 232-8947. Closed Sunday.
You can buy this locally made tofu in many grocery stores around town, but the freshest (not to mention cheapest) slices still come straight from the original factory, quietly tucked away behind the Slammer in inner Southeast Portland. Bring your own container and fill it with hunks of soft Japanese tofu, perfect for making miso soup or agedashi tofu. Fair warning: Even the "firm" is pretty fragile, so you'll need to squeeze the water out very carefully to do any sort of vigorous cooking with it. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Firm and soft tofu, fried tofu.
Boo Han Oriental Market
1313 SE 82nd Ave., 254-8606.
While this place is smaller than Fubonn, the prices are pretty comparable, it's certainly less crowded, and it has a wider selection of Korean foods, both packaged and fresh. The stock includes an excellent selection of fresh noodles and dough and an enticing assortment of well-priced housemade kimchee. The produce section is large, quite fresh-looking and very diverse. Really, the only department that's somewhat lacking in comparison to Fubonn is the tea section, but again, this is dictated by the available space. Last, the people who work here are incredibly friendly and helpful, which is always an enormous plus. JENNIFER GILROY.
Shopping List: Kimchee, fresh noodles, dough.
13600 SW Pacific Highway, Tigard, 620-6120, hmartus.com.
Note to first timers at the H Mart banchan sample bar: The abundant supply of fresh toothpicks is there for a reason. Use one for each kimchee, fish cake or pickle you try and then discard it. And after you're all puckered up and hypertensive from the salt, be sure to take advantage of one of the most diverse and appealing produce sections in the metro area. The stock is immaculate with nary a withered leaf or shriveled stem, and if you fail to take advantage of a deal, (i.e., buying only three bunches of scallions when the sign clearly said four for a dollar), the checkout person will admonish you for it. And deservedly so. BRIAN PANGANIBAN.
Shopping list: The best-looking, cheapest collard greens you're ever going to see, Gochujang (red pepper paste), rice cakes, flanken cut beef ribs, Korean medicinal drinks.
3975 SW 114th Ave., Beaverton, 641-3313.
H Mart's satellite store in Beaverton, G Mart is an odd little structure where a smaller variety of stock from its larger Tigard sister store is shoehorned in every which way in a dizzying, Escher-esque collection of aisles with not much rhyme or reason to it (nor will you notice the lovely Spring Restaurant upstairs unless you already know it's there). Most departments are represented here but writ small, with the meat counter behind a tiny refrigerator case in the back and dry goods filling all available crannies. But if you know what you are looking for, don't want to drive to Tigard and are charmed by the mumbling elderly Korean couple outside handing out Billy Graham tracts, G Mart is your shop. BRIAN PANGANIBAN.
Shopping list: Korean canned tuna (with barbecue sauce!), japchae sweet potato noodles. Sometimes, apparently, you can also find religion here.
5415 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, 246-1713, albertsons.com.
Any visit to Albertsons is sure to spark flashbacks to the painfully flat neon lighting, lackluster produce display, and drab décor of 1980s food shopping. But this one is different, featuring the city's largest selection of kosher food. There's a freezer full of frozen kosher fare, a kosher meat section, multiple varieties of gefilte fish and an entire aisle of rabbi-approved dry goods. The store's high point, though, is its fresh kosher deli, which sits alongside its ham-slinging gentile counterpart. You might as well save time and start next year's Seder preparations here. JORDAN GREEN.
Shopping list: Kosher meats are an obvious draw, but the Mexican and halal selections are strong, too.
MEDITERRANEAN & MIDDLE EAST
Anoush Deli International Market
1710 NE 122nd Ave., 254-7676.
Armenian-owned but globally conscious, Anoush Deli International Market boasts food, phone cards and newspapers from around the world. Tucked into a strip of stores across from the Salvation Army, it's easy to miss, but don't miss it. At the front of the store is a seating area for patrons availing themselves of handmade gyros and other Mediterranean favorites fresh from the deli. Shelves groan with pilaf mix and jars of marinated peppers. The freezer cases in the back are full of filo dough and European beers. There's also a small onsite bakery where honey cake is king. Long may it reign. DEBORAH KENNEDY.
Shopping list: Gyros, couscous, tahini, smetannik, pierogis, puff pastry, filo dough, olive oil, anise seeds, baklava, marinated cabbage leaves.
Halal Meat & Mediterranean Foods
11535 SW Pacific Highway, 293-3020.
This Libyan-owned shop in an office park in which everything recently was broken—from the Coke machine at the owners' neighboring falafel shop to the entire Burger King across the parking lot—has been serving up halal meats for more than two decades now from a lovely case filled with cuts of beef, lamb and goat from steak to heart and kidney. Much of the rest of the store feels a bit like an overage bin—with spare office chairs and boxes stored toward the back—but there's a sterling selection of olive oils from various nations, massive cans of olives and pickled cucumbers, cheap spices, and sangak bread that promises on its packaging to heat up as fresh as the day it was made. Plus, if the butcher flirting with the girl up front is to be trusted, they also offer French lessons. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Fresh-butchered fare, Persian flatbread, grape leaves.
International Food Bazaar
11527 SW Canyon Road, 574-2383.
"Temporarily not accepting food stamps," says the sign on the door. It's not their fault. The brand-new Pakistani owners took over their shop's space from the Iranian-owned Beaverton Halal after everyone there got arrested for food-stamp fraud. Well, consider it your own good luck. The new store has been rearranged and, my goodness, actually organized. The halal butcher counter is still in the back and still beautifully cheap—"mixed Goat" is $5.49 a pound—and there's still an assortment of Canadian-made Iranian cookies from almond to pistachio, plus a wealth of spices and rices. Now, though, there's also Pakistani green chili sauce, which is just about as addictive as Sriracha. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Mitchell's green chili sauce, crispy pistachio cookies, fresh-butchered lamb and goat.
World Foods Market (pictured at top)
830 NW Everett St., 802-0755; 9845 SW Barbur Blvd., 244-0670; worldfoodsportland.com.
World Foods' welcoming entrances sport cafe tables lining the sidewalk at the garage doors leading into the produce section, and fresh flowers leading you into the side door to the espresso and juice bar. You could plot your whole day's food here: pistachio-sprinkled or date-filled pastries for breakfast, a Mediterranean deli salad or a fresh handmade pizza for lunch, and dinner or party fare prepped from the seemingly unlimited selection of international offerings in the grocery area, stocked with seemingly everything you wouldn't be able to find at Safeway. There's hard-to-find spices like sumac, advieh polo and Aleppo pepper; instant sahlab mix; rose and orange blossom waters; 20 choices of pickles; 16 brands of honey (next to the honeycomb and bee pollen); 39 kinds of olive oil; and every type of Haribo candy that your inner international child might want. On a recent visit, however, some of the pastries were undercooked, so caveat emptor.
Still, even for those unfamiliar with the offerings, the staff is pleasant and eager to help. In a thick accent, a woman from the deli's kitchen—big spoon still in hand—guided me through the appropriate accompaniments for my bulgur-wheat kibbeh salad among the variety of hummus and tabbouleh. LAURA HANSON.
Shopping list: Vegetable kibbeh, Lebanese potato and beet salads from the deli, chocolate croissant, anything with pistachios from the cafe.
17420 SE Division St., 477-5947; 970 SE Oak St., Hillsboro, 352-5525.
Supermercados Mexico brings the party. Meat party, music party, fruit party, piñata party—every kind of party. The stores are bright and festive, with the same loud music you'd expect at an all-day asada grill in the park; there's a tailgate party's worth of pickups out front, and by the time you're done shopping you feel like you've been at the local fair.
The Supermercado recently added to its Hillsboro location with a spot at the edge of Gresham, with one of the most impressive meat counters in town—smoked pork chops, siete mares (fish stew), much chorizo, shrimp, beef-fried steaks, thin-cut asada, fajitas and Cornish hen, next to a Latin American cheese section (manchego, freso, crema Salvadoreña) on one side and a display of fresh salsas from tropicale to aguacate on the other. You want to try more salsas? There's a sample counter behind you, or a taqueria in the back of the store.
Also in the back of the store is a massive selection of galetas and big frosted cakes, priced guilt-free, and a little cash-only juice stand with fresh-blended smoothies and spicy chili concoctions. Either take a melon cup and add your own favorite chili salt from a number of options, or grab a tart-hot El Diablito ($5), with green mango bathed in a fruit-chili sauce.
The aisles and produce section are a mix of Latin American favorites and local staples, mixing corn husks and jicama with apples and pears, canned sopas with ramen noodles. Which is to say, it can double as a low-priced shopping trip even for those who stem from closer to North Dakota than the Yucatan. Except the music is way more fun than the Carly Simon you're stuck with at Safeway. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Bulk dried peppers, fresh produce, fresh salsas, El Diablito fruit cup, thin-cut grill steaks.
18330 SE Stark St., 491-1848.
Watch out parking on the weekends—the flea market might take over—but La Tapatia is one of the classic Mexican shopping experiences in Portland, with a restaurant in the rear a bit like the lovely stew section at Tienda de Leon or the taqueria at Santa Cruz, but a much more expansive market with a terrific meat case, and the store's kept well-stocked and clean. Aside from the excellent produce and meat sections, pay special attention to the aisle of spices, as well as the bulk chilies for those who prefer to measure their sweat in buckets. Get some tacos buche first so you don't shop hungry. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Fried whole tilapia in the back, xoconostle (sour prickly pear), dried chipotle chilies, rock incense.
4265 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, 641-8985.
A change of ownership in the past few months definitely bodes well for this Mexican market just off Beaverton's downtown strip. Despite a storefront more reminiscent of a shady convenience store, Salsa Market's interior is bright, cheery and surprisingly spacious. The staff has managed to pack in everything you'd want at a Mexican grocery—bags of dried peppers, a beautiful produce section, a bakery stocked with bolillo rolls and pastries, and a bank of coolers for beer and soda—without feeling overstuffed. The staff is exceptional, too. The store's welcoming shopkeeper spent a few minutes giving me tips on grilling nopales properly. No one at WW believes me, but there are benefits to living in the suburbs. JORDAN GREEN.
Shopping list: Bolillo rolls, pan-ready marinated chicken, pre-sliced nopales, your choice of Jarritos soda.
Tienda El Campesino
6611 SE Powell Blvd., 774-4124.
The entrance to this mini-mercado is hidden in the corner of what appears to be nothing more than an ambiguous warehouse. Inside, it's surprisingly large, outstandingly priced and decently stocked with everything from fresh produce to authentic piñatas. If on the hunt for any type of chili, dried or fresh, it is certain to be found here along with avocados for only a dollar and mangos for $1.25! Beat that, Whole Foods. There's an entire wall of Mexican baked goods, a pretty impressive meat department, and a deli section that includes fresh salsa, guacamole, tamales and warm tortillas. Most Mexican basics are stocked here, such as Bimbo and Jarritos, but strangely enough, the hot-sauce selection was disappointing (three or four at most and nothing beyond the basics like Tapatio). JENNIFER GILROY.
Shopping list: Fresh or dried chilies of pretty much any variety, homemade tortillas, salsa, conchas, piñatas.
Tienda Santa Cruz
24 SE 82nd Ave., 408-4896; 8630 N Lombard St., 285-8222.
Nestled at the south end of a blockwide strip mall, Tienda Santa Cruz's Southeast location is easy to miss but offers an impressive selection of imported goods, especially considering its size. A case of decorative cakes and glistening flans greet you upon arrival. As you weave your way through bulk bags of hard-to-find Mexican candy, colossal cans of pickled jalapeños, and pre-packaged authentic tortillas, you'll eventually find the wall dedicated to housing competitively priced, freshly made pan dulce. On your way out, pick up your favorite corridos on cassette or CD from behind the counter. The St. Johns location, however, is larger and sports a killer no-frills taqueria in the back. JENNIFER GILROY.
Shopping list: Pan dulce, queso Oaxaca, jarred nopales, obleas sin cajeta (at counter), corn husks.
5441 SE Powell Blvd., 777-2463.
The benefit of a neighborhood market over a megastore is often in the level of service, and An Dong has amassed a loyal following of shoppers over more than a decade. While the aisles feel cramped compared to places like Fubonn, the selection is impressive and covers a wide range of Asian styles from Vietnamese and Thai to Chinese and Japanese. A large produce section offers a fresh-looking array of the exotic and the familiar, although the meat case is fairly small with a limited selection—unless you are shopping for pork bung. PENELOPE BASS.
Shopping list: Fresh yakisoba noodles, lotus root, salted mackerel in oil, bamboo steamer, instant Thai tea mix.
Asian Food Center
3849 SW 117th Ave., Beaverton, 520-1880, afcwa.com.
The Asian population of Seattle's Bellevue suburb continues its Southwest Portland-area migration. First Uwajimaya, then Szechuan Kitchen, and now the Asian Food Center have all opened outposts. Asian Food Center hews to Fubonn's model of low prices and bewildering variety—albeit in an airy, tidy market with wood lattices and paper lanterns hung with care along the store's periphery, and aisle markers that actually correspond to what's found there.
Pear shoppers at the entrance can choose among yali, shinko, Asian brown and fragrant. In the meat section, the chicken comes in breast, thigh, leg, wing, heart, gizzard, feet, liver, bone or skin—but the indecisive can take home the whole bird in a bag, legs dangling; those who don't like chicken feet can have duck feet instead. Ground beef is a steal at $2.69 a pound, while ground pork is a mere $2.49. At the seafood section in the back of the store, you can point out your choice in the tanks among live tilapia ($4.79 a pound), sea trout ($9.99) or rockfish ($7.98) active enough to send cascades of water over the top of the tanks and into the spill bins. Meanwhile, in the neighboring display case, pomeret, bass, mackerel and snapper swim whole, fins up, in seas of ice. Ask for your fish "clean only," head off, tail off, or in steak form.
Add to this the usual array of sauces, noodles and spices in the store's huge central section, the tea plates near the sake and plum wine selection, and the voluminous freezer cases packed with ready-to-eat dumplings or the parts of various fish, somehow kept mostly odor-free.
When you met somebody who had just escaped Bellevue, it used to be a bad thing; Asian Food Center is quite pleasant. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Low-cost meat, exotic fruit, live fish, dried hawthorn berries, doufu pi, Chinese bacon.
2850 SE 82nd Ave., 517-8877, fubonn.com.
A visit to Fubonn is a rite of passage for new movers to Portland. The imposing shopping center is the Asian answer to a Fred Meyer Supercenter where you can pick up a chicken for dinner along with a marble statue of a dolphin for the lawn. The expansive butchery and seafood counter embodies the philosophy of "waste not" with everything available from tongues and trotters to chicken feet and pork blood. The shrill whine of a bone saw is constant in the background. Venture into the aisles for every type of Sriracha you never knew existed and 50 yards of tea to treat everything from pimples to virility. If you can't afford a trip to Asia, a trip to Fubonn is a cultural experience in and of itself. PENELOPE BASS.
Shopping list: Sriracha mayo, Lucky Buddha âEnlightened Beer,â guava mochi, oolong tea, wok.
10500 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, 643-4512, uwajimaya.com.
While it may no longer be the only game in the Asian megamart town, 'Waji's is still the best curated and most accessible to those adventurous shoppers with more gumption than experience. While raw materials are some of the best the region has to offer (Painted Hills beef, Carlton Farms pork, plenty of live fish tanks), be sure to peruse the well-rotated and clearly labeled (in English!) stock of Japanese grocery items. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and more than willing to point out the difference between rice flour and sweet rice flour, and won't laugh at you for fondling the oddly yet compellingly textured Kewpie mayonnaise bottle. BRIAN PANGANIBAN.
Shopping List: Sushi-grade fresh fish, nabe bowls for hot pot, a cream puff from the Beard Papa stand inside the store.
11001 NE Halsey St., 255-0448, lily-market.com.
My goodness, Lily Market is beautiful. Amphaphone Jeung's long-running Thai grocery is not only a lovely grocery store but also an apartment building that looks like it was designed by Dwell magazine. Within, the store carries an immaculate selection of produce from local to far-flung, a huge variety of teas, tea bags with pho seasoning, incenses, syrups for making those crazy Thai fruit drinks, seasonings for rice, grass jelly drinks, and rice steamers. The store is Thai-focused but doesn't limit itself—hence the fact that it sells chopsticks, along with little Japanese crackers and a hilarious variety of goopy sweet-chili sauces of every variety. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping list: Fish sauce, pickled fish, a variety of chili pastes, house-blended tea, lovely tea sets.
Tarad Thai Market and Restaurant
601 SE Morrison St., 234-4102, taradpdx.com. Closed Sunday.
While Tarad is a lovely Thai restaurant, it can be just as valuable as a rare near-eastside market. Tarad has a small, almost charitably priced selection of fish sauce, curries, pepper sauces and choice bits of fresh exotics such as galangal root and Thai basil, plus non sequiturs like $1 six-packs of heavily perfumed Thai soap. It's curated as well as any museum and looks like a 1970s Thai bodega, right down to a the vintage AM-FM transistor radio. Oh, and they stock Nong's Khao Man Gai sauce. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
SHOPPING LIST: Fish sauce, fried green onions, curry.
Bui Natural Tofu
520 NE 76th Ave., 254-6132, buinaturaltofu.com.
If you've only had packaged tofu from the grocery store, you are sorely missing out. The brothers Bui (Minh and Nghia) were making tofu in Vietnam for 20 years before immigrating to the United States. When they started making tofu in Portland, it was out of a garage for friends and neighbors. But they found such a demand from the Vietnamese community that they were able to open shop with Bui's Natural Tofu in 2005, which now distributes to markets and restaurants across the city. The small, sunny shop functions more like a deli, with an array of tofu flavors and dishes, sweet rice and Vietnamese dumplings wrapped in banana leaves all packaged and ready to eat. PENELOPE BASS.
Shopping list: One brick fresh tofu (60 cents!), salad rolls with peanut sauce, fried onion tofu, coconut dumplings, Snapple.
Hong Phat Food Center
101 SE 82nd Ave., 253-4411.
In what used to be an old Safeway now sits the massive Hong Phat Food Center, which still kind of looks like a Safeway but infinitely more interesting. Boxes of jackfruit the size of a husky toddlers sit at the entrance and lure shoppers into an expansive produce section heavy with a sweet, tropical aroma and boasting dragon fruit, guava and lychee. Aisle after towering aisle are stocked with no less than five dozen brown sauces of the soy variety, anything that could possibly be pickled, and every size, shape and style of noodle produced. A cafe and deli on the opposite end of the store serves up lattes and pork steam buns. Fubonn, you've met your match. PENELOPE BASS.
Shopping list: Crate of mangoes, aloe vera spears, duck eggs, pork uteri, 50 pounds of rice.
Vieng Lao Oriental Food Center
1032 N Killingsworth St., 285-7833.
Vieng Lao's food comes from anywhere and everywhere along the East Asian Rim, with a focus on Vietnamese but including a broad variety of Filipino foods for the local community, with a huge selection of Filipino-style cracklins. Vieng Lao also houses an admirable, low-priced produce selection spanning from tamarind and galangal to simple onion and tomato, frozen seafood, a solid butcher counter that includes live crab, and a vast array of rice noodles. The meat and produce, especially, make it the shopping backbone of its neighborhood, but the array of sauces and noodles in the back make it a treat for the browser. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
Shopping List: Cracklins, curries, rice noodles, fresh produce. Live crab any time you can get it—it sells out fast.