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> Monday, September 26th, 2011 > Lifestyles > Craving a supermarket change
Craving a supermarket change
Click here to read more Interrobang articles written by Jaymin Proulx
Published: Monday, September 26th, 2011
If you're tired of the same old supermarket fare, check out some ethnic grocery stores that style their markets towards students who crave a cultural flavour or a taste of home cooking. Four supermarkets in particular, Aladdin's Food, Indo-Asian Groceries and Spices, Thai Asia and a new supermarket called United Supermarket are easily accessible by bus from campus.
Aladdin's Food is located at 611 Wonderland Rd. N., south of Oxford Street. It is owned by Ramadan Alnaghmost. The store carries an extensive selection of meats, such as lamb, veal and chicken, alongside fresh produce. A wide variety of teas and coffees are available as well, and Alameed tea and Maatouk Turkish coffee are purchased quite frequently.
"We cater to the Lebanese, Palestinian, Libyan, Syrian, Asian and East-Indian London population in London. There is an especially high Muslim student population from Fanshawe who come and buy from our store," explained Aoyman Kareen, an employee of Aladdin's.
One of the most popular sweets sold at Aladdin's is baklava, a decadent and sweet pastry filled with chopped nuts, explained Kareen. Other popular foods sold there include gulab jamun, which are round, sweet deep-fried treats, and main course meals like samosas.
Indo-Asian Groceries and Spices is located nearby at 689 Oxford St. W., just west of Wonderland Road. They also have a second location at 1775 Ernest Ave., south of Southdale Road. The store carries a wide selection of East Indian magazines, newspapers and Bollywood movies. The store is owned by husband and wife Anil and Priti Gupta. Indo-Asian Groceries and Spices has been in business for more than 15 years.
The store is quite popular with East Indian students from Fanshawe, who go there to pick up samosas, desserts, spices, eggs, meals and snacks.
"Teas, like Assam and Darjeeling are bought most often. Assam is a darker tea while Darjeeling is a lighter flavour. Cardamom, cinnamon, and black pepper powder are spices that are popular too. Lots of chai tea is a common choice as well," explained Priti.
"We sell turmeric, eggs, lentil soup with curry and turmeric with vegetables. A lot of customers will buy hot chilli powder, too. Masala tea is widely used, as well as meats such as chicken or fish, but no pork or beef."
She displayed the variety of Indian Okra, squash, cashews, and fried green peas and pound cake. Boondi is a type of sweet snack that is made with chickpea flour.
"Dahl soup is a regular choice for East Indian recipes. You wash the red lentils, boil some hot water, and add the lentils, salt and turmeric. Turn off the stove, put some oil in a pan and add cumin seed and chilli powder. You can add some fresh tomato and broccoli and serve with plain rice. My husband is a vegetarian, so he eats no eggs or chicken — just plant vegetables with protein," she added.
"There are many choices of dahl soup — masoor dahl, which is red lentil soup, or chickpea dahl or moong dahl. We also sell mangos, alfonso and chaku."
In terms of Asian grocery stores, Thai Asia is located close to the Huron and Highbury intersection at 1249 Huron St. It is owned by Jirapat and Wacharin Chalalai. It has been in business for six years.
The store is popular with students who come in to buy fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood and spices.
In the beverage showcase, there are cans of coconut, guava, mango and sour sop juice. Sugarapple is a popular drink as well, and it comes from the Caribbean.
The store also carries a variety of herbs and fresh plants, including familiar items like basil and chili, as well as some imported produce such as bitter melon and Chinese Okra.
Aladdin's, Indo-Asian Groceries and Spices and Thai Asia are all independently owned.
United Supermarket is a chain that started in Brampton and Mississauga. The London location can be found at 1062 Adelaide St. N., close to Cheapside Street.
The manager, Qing Qing Lin, is a busy man, being both a father of three and manger of the newest and largest Asian supermarket in the city. He said he plans to open another United Supermarket in the west end of London.
"I sold the stores in Mississauga and Brampton and moved to London as I thought there was a demand for an Asian supermarket," he explained.
Indeed there is!
The store is spacious, bright and contains rows and rows of fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, sauces, snacks, candies and more local foods than you would find in a Loblaws or Metro. But with this store, there is something more special than your standard Canadian supermarket.
Teas sell for $0.99 to $5.99 and consist of Koro Tea, Gloria Tea and a variety of other Asian teas. There are ginger teas, green tea, caffeine-free and herbal teas. There is even a blood sugar reducing tea for $2.29.
Neria Lefort, a mother or three and shopper at United, said, "I've come here before — it's very good, very international. I usually go to another Asian store, but now I will just come here. It has everything!"
United also has a large fresh seafood room in the back of the store. There is a vast selection of mackerel, white bass, squid tentacles, shrimp and oyster meat.
Don't forget about the other healthy options here, too. Exotic fruits like yellow star fruit and dragon fruit, as well as low-calorie Shirataki noodles, Wakame (seaweed), miso soups and sugar-free pineapple cake are popular products that you can't often find in any traditional Canadian supermarket.
Before I left United, Lin insisted that I try some hot, fresh won ton soup, beef with broccoli and kung pao shrimp at no charge.
"Please come again!" he insisted. And I will.