Thursday, December 17, 2009
Amazing Food at the Amazing Oriental Supermarket!
Guest post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman
Yes, the Pamiko foreclosure epidemic is the hot JNS topic du jour, but even a Hawkman has to eat. I'd always been curious about the Amazing Oriental Supermarket, tucked away on 26th and Broadway. A few weeks ago, I went in for the first time to buy candy for the sign pinata video. The smell from their deli was intoxicating. Plus, they have a section in their meat freezer specifically stating: "NOT FOR SALE," which makes me want to try that stuff EVEN MORE.
Connie Nompelis, who's due for another mention on this blog, pointed out that this place even has an apple tree in its yard, and we decided to see what the food was like...
And it was delicious all around. We ordered two kinds of laab dishes, beef and duck, as well as a side of egg rolls, sticky rice, and some iced Korean coffee. The iced coffee was overly sweet, and if it weren't for the spiciness of the food, the sweetness would be almost unbearable.
Oh yes, laab dishes are especially spicy. I consider myself as having a fairly high tolerance for spices of the Latin American variety, but some of these Asian dishes really clean out the sinuses. We asked for the food to be prepared "medium spicy," and that was a good choice. That way it was hot enough, but not so hot that it was overpowering. I wouldn't advise on asking for anything beyond "medium spicy" unless you already know you can handle it.
The laab duck had some kind of thinly sliced red vegetable mixed in (I want to say beets, but who knows?) and had more of a slower build in its spiciness. The beef had noticeably more lime and cilantro in it, and was much hotter initially.
In comparison to the Bangkok Market, the only other place I've tried laab meat, I'd say this food was slightly better. It does cost a bit more, but you still get enough for two meals. And the Bangkok Market serves their laab meat with a side of lettuce and several serrano peppers. I remembered the story about how to use the sticky rice to scoop up the laab, but neither Connie nor I could get that technique down.
It's worth noting as well that there were two kids, maybe eight or younger and probably children of the owners or employees, wandering around while we were eating, and one of them started flipping channels on the TV on the wall. When they got to ESPN, they stopped momentarily while both of them jumped up and down and yelled euphorically, "HOCKEY!!!!!" It's moments like this when I realize that there's hope for the next generation after all.
After our meal (two entrees, two side dishes, and coffee, coming in at just over $20) we wandered around the store a bit. We both agreed we've always been curious about what this tastes like, and vowed it would be another JNS post:
The store was filled with ingredients that I had virtually no knowledge of how to use in the kitchen. These are my favorite kinds of stores; you can just buy a whole bunch of random things, google them, and see what kind of dinner you wind up with. At some point, I'm going to pester one of the employees though, and make them tell me what I'm looking at and how to cook with it.
Until then, we've got yet another NoMi gem where healthy food can be had at an affordable price.