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Toss the takeout containers and try these Boston-area Asian markets instead

Posted by Alex Pearlman  February 18, 2012 09:14 AM

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hmart bakery.JPGBy Christi Kim

It’s nice to go out for Asian cuisine once in a while, but sometimes you want more than just a meal at a restaurant or leftover takeout. On those days when you’re craving some strawberry Mochi ice cream, kimchi, sushi, or just some good old Pocky, Boston’s many Asian supermarkets can fill the void (and your stomach). Here are seven of the city’s best.

Hong Kong Supermarket (1095 Commonwealth Ave., Allston). Formerly known as Super 88 Market, this store, which sells mostly Chinese food, as the name implies, is quite large and connected to a food court. It’s also conveniently located on the 57 Bus route and close to the B Line. But the best part about Hong Kong Supermarket is that the food is inexpensive; you can walk in with $50 and walk out with a week’s worth of delicious Asian food.

Mirim Oriental Groceries (152 Harvard Ave., Allston). This market reminds me of the many little grocery stores sprinkled throughout Seoul where people shop for essentials on the way home from school or work. While Mirim is small, it’s comfortable and not overcrowded. The staff is welcoming and don’t ever seem unhappy to be there; if you need help finding an item, they can tell you where it is instantly (unlike the experiences I’ve had in some larger supermarkets). Mirim sells mostly Korean and Japanese products, all of which are reasonably priced. It’s also in a nice location off the B Line and 57 Bus.

CMart (692 Washington St., Chinatown). Chinatown’s CMart has a great location and offers a variety of foods at good prices, but they lose points on presentation; the store isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing, including clearly visible cracked tiles. Still, if you want Chinese food, they’ve got it -- everything from Chinese noodles to chili oil sauce. Their seafood selections are also some of the freshest around.

Ming’s (1102 Washington St., South End). I have yet to visit this market, but I’ve heard positive reviews. Ming’s seems to draw devoted patrons who keep returning for their share of Chinese food, as evidenced by their Yelp! rating and comments. Reviewers rave about both the wide selection of food and the experience, so if it’s nearby for you, Ming’s could become your new favorite Asian market.

asian markets mochi.jpgKam Man Marketplace (219 Quincy Ave., Quincy). The Kam Man Marketplace is mostly a supermarket but also has a conglomerate of little stores around the exterior, much like a mini mall. After shopping for groceries, it’s entertaining to browse these shops for cell phone charms and knick-knacks or purchase some snacks at the cafes. The supermarket itself has a decent selection of food, but if you’re squeamish about offerings that are a little too exotic, I’d suggest one of the other markets on this list.

Ebisuya Japanese Market (65 Riverside Ave., Medford). When Kotobukiya in Porter Square closed, I was distraught -- my source of Japanese snacks had disappeared! Thankfully, a year later, the market was reincarnated as Medford’s Ebisuya. I’m crazy about Japanese food, and for others who feel the same way, this place is ideal because it’s totally authentic: The owners are Japanese, and they employ Japanese cashiers and sushi bar chefs (and, by the way, that sushi is particularly good and inexpensive!). While some of the other items at this market may run a little high in price, the food is all of very high quality.

H Mart (3 Old Concord Rd., Burlington). As if this Korean super-chain needs any more attention, H Mart is the best market for Asian food I’ve ever been to in Massachusetts. It’s a bit far for many Boston residents -- about a 40-minute drive north of the city -- but it’s so worth it. H Mart is like the Costco of Asian food; they even serve samples, so you can stuff yourself silly off udon noodles, kalbi, steamed mussels, honey tea, dumplings, and miso soup while you shop. They focus on Korean food but also sell Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Thai food -- and even a small selection of Western food (in case you happen to have a craving for Cheetos). H Mart also contains a bakery, food court, beauty department, and gift store. If you’ve got access to a car, make the drive up, but try and avoid peak hours and weekends because finding parking and wrestling your way through the crowds can be crazy.

Which Boston-area Asian market is your favorite?

About Christi -- I'm a student and copy editor in Boston. I have an interest in pretty much everything. I like to spend my free time as part photographer, writer, graphic designer, foodie, artist, and musician. I enjoy reading in a quiet sunlit room and watching movies with friends.

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