There is a relatively new Asian Market located at 321 North 76th Street that has quite the array of offerings for the seasoned home cook. As prices in grocery stores continue to go up, one can find many spices, oils, and other ingredients at this market. The store has a large variety of items ranging from Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai, Korean, to European snacks. Upon a visit, you will be surprised at how much time you will spend simply perusing the aisles looking at all of the foreign and some not so foreign ingredients.
Right after the entrance of the store, there are large shelves filled with endless varieties of rice and noodles. The different kinds are fun to gaze at and inspect, and some of the more familiar varieties, like Jasmine Rice or Arborio rice, are marked at a relatively low price. A twenty-five pound bag of Jasmine Rice sells for around $19.99, which if you eat lot of rice, is well worth the buy since a mere pound of Jasmine Rice usually runs from $3 to $5 at leading local grocery stores. The market also offers Arborio rice, often used for risotto, for only $5.50 for 2.20 lbs. This amount usually sells for 8 to 10 dollars at larger grocery stores.
Another very worthwhile offering from the store is their range of spices, Some of the values that they offer are a seven-ounce bag of cumin for only $2.50, when usually the cheapest that other grocery stores have are a half-ounce bottle for $.99. They also offer one-pound bulk bags of other spices like ginger ($3.99) and turmeric ($5.81). Surprisingly enough, there are even large bags of cinnamon sticks for only $.69. Again, for people who frequently cook at home and burn through spices, this is definitely a place to visit.
The rest of the store offers so many items that it is difficult to look through everything. There are countless variations of curry. A curry lover can choose between curry powder (a seasoning), the paste (to which you add coconut milk and meat/vegetables) or the canned curry that you just simply heat up and add the desired ingredients. The pastes come in a variety of sizes from big bags to little cans. As a word of caution, though, the little cans of paste tend to be very spicy. The prices for the curries range from $.89 to $5.88, depending on the size, variety, and brand.
Unlike other ethnic marts, this one also has fresh ingredients available. The store has a meat counter at the back that has an assortment of fish and various parts of cows and chickens. Usually there are fresh blue crabs, eel, and Dungeness crabs. The store also flaunts a very exotic and low-cost produce section. There are a variety of eggs (duck, chicken, and quail) and also a small display of fresh exotic herbs, which have a beautiful aroma. They also offer limes for $.19 each, large papayas for $.99, and two-pound of baby bok choy for one to two dollars, all well-below the average price for these items. This section is extremely fun to look through, and for someone who wants to make quality dishes at home with nice ingredients and exotic produce, this market is a must.
As the economy continues to struggle and food prices are unforgiving and relentless at times, small markets can sometimes be quite the salvation. Omaha is continuing to grow in respects to ethnic food marts, and this makes some expensive ingredients accessible and affordable to most average cooks and families.