Tag Archives: grocery

Southwest Oriental Market

Southwest Oriental Market Inc
9170 W 159th St.,
Orland Park, IL
708.403.9170

After checking out Bangkok Oriental Grocery, we hopped onto LaGrange Rd and drove down to Southwest Oriental Market. This market was more modern and much larger. There is a wall of frozen goods across from shelves of noodles and rice. In the next aisle, there is a refrigerated case of produce, meat, and perishable sauces. The other aisles had varieties of sauces, seasonings, instant food, and snack foods. They also stock a few common appliances and utensils necessary for Asian-style cooking. This store seems to cater more to Filipino, Chinese, and Japanese cooks.

I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the wide variety of items in the store. I could have spent more time in this store, but we had already picked up many of the items I needed at Bangkok, so I only gave the store a bit of a cursory glance. The staff were not overly friendly, but they were not rude, and answered a couple of questions we had. We are also definitely coming back here, because on Fridays, Southwest Oriental Market has a local cook bring in Balut. Vegetarians need not apply; Balut is basically a cooked duck egg that was once near hatching time. Peruse the Wikipedia article about Balut if you’re not grossed out already.

We probably won’t like it but I still can’t wait to try it, haha. I’ll post a trip report about that too… but will put the pictures after the jump for you queasy folks. ;)

Bangkok Oriental Grocery

As promised, I went to the Asian markets I had previously Googled. Unfortunately, due to vehicular difficulties and time constraints, I was unable to do this until yesterday. To refresh your memory, the two markets we visited were:

Bangkok Oriental Grocery
7430 S. Harlem Ave.,
Bridgeview, IL
708.458.1810

Southwest Oriental Market Inc
9170 W 159th St.,
Orland Park, IL
708.403.9170

This entry has actually gotten pretty long, so I’m going to put the other market into a second post.

I’m most interested in Thai cooking, so we called Bangkok Oriental Grocery first and drove over. The grocery is on the west side of Harlem (which, by the way, is one INSANELY busy street on a Saturday afternoon), and shares the building with a Thai restaurant. I don’t think it was open when we went, so we didn’t check it out. Google Maps displays a building with no sign, but they have put a sign up at this point. If you’re coming from the south, because of the way the storefront is angled, it’s easy to miss. From the north you shouldn’t have a problem.

The store itself is pretty tiny. It’s definitely not the most modern, and the shopkeeper was unloading some stock while we were there, so we had to step over a few boxes. Don’t let this scare you though! Sometimes smaller markets aren’t the cleanest, but that has nothing to do with their products (sometimes older, non-updated facilities are also misconstrued as being unhygienic). There are 4 aisles, but the shelves are packed packed packed with mostly Thai goods. A shelving unit near the door displays Thai memorabilia in the patriotic color yellow, and many products with nary an English description. Due to the size of the store, there is not much fresh produce. There are 5 or 6 chest-style freezers holding frozen dumplings, meat, fish, and freezable produce (kaffir lime leaves, peppers/chilies, ginger/galanga, etc). Typical chill chests were in the back of the store, and they contained high-demand fresh produce; eggplants, lemongrass, several varieties of basil, some chilies. Pretty much if you need anything for Thai/Vietnamese/Filipino cooking, this place will have it. Head to your usual grocery shopping location for “regular” produce.

We will definitely be heading back here. The shopkeeper was incredibly friendly, and when we were paying for our groceries (CASH ONLY, by the way) he was asking us what kind of food we wanted to cook. I had picked up a bottle of fish sauce, and he let me know that there was another brand better suited to Thai cooking. We had a couple of different curry pastes, and he told us which ones would work best with different meats and vegetables. He also suggested some Thai cooking essentials, but wasn’t trying to shove a bunch of products down our throats. So, huge, huge thumbs up for Bangkok Oriental Grocery and the friendly shopkeeper! :) Maybe after a few trips I can ask him what the mystery products on the front shelves are…

World Travels from Suburbia

Many of you who have spoken to me more than a few times know that I have a certain obsession interest in traveling the globe. Like most people, we really don’t have the funds or the free time to do this. I’ve been nursing a dream of backpacking south/southeast Asia for several years now. I’m lucky enough to have 3 weeks vacation, but 3 weeks is certainly not enough time to backpack through one country, let alone an entire region. We’d probably have to save up several thousand dollars and take an unpaid leave from our jobs (or quit). There’s always that lottery fantasy…

The relatively recent purchase of a house has put travel on the back burner. Fortunately, putting off a dream doesn’t mean forgetting about it. I’m exploring destinations by learning how to cook in the regional style. My close friend April gave me a starter wok kit several years ago. I’ve always been interested in stir-frying and Pan-Asian food, but April basically created a monster.

One of the greatest things about living in Chicago city proper was the sheer diversity: I could hop on the bus or the train and be at a Korean grocery in 15 minutes. Since moving to the suburbs, there has been a distinct lack of Asian cooking in our household, and I’ve been on a mission to rectify the situation.  This past weekend we located the Indian/Pakistani groceries in our area. I stocked up on some hard to find spices, Shan masala packs, and a few assorted frozen goodies.  For those of you in south suburban Chicagoland, click through to read about the markets…

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