Lunar New Year, also known as ‘Spring Festival’ is annually observed among Asians for thousands of years. The celebration lasts a few days to a few weeks and affects 3 Asian cultures; Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese. The Lunar New Year feast with family and friends are eaten the night before prepared with ingredients and food items that contain homonyms or sounds of good fortune in hopes of another auspicious year. A few weeks prior, markets are filled with people scrambling to fill their grocery carts at Asian food markets. Foods are also used during New Year at temple or ceremonies at home in honor of loved ones passed to ask for another year of good health and fortune.
American markets have made it easier to find cooking ingredients to use in preparing Asian cuisines however, they do not provide the mass variety of fresh vegetables, meats or fish necessary to create authentic dishes. States with high Asian population have Asian grocery stores accessible to them and the community with staple condiment ingredients along with an abundant of fresh Asian vegetables, meats and fish; one stop shopping. At Asian food markets, an array of vegetables like bok choy, asparagus (long) green beans and Asian turnips are welcome ingredients for consumers to create pan-Asian masterpiece dishes. These markets also allow people to purchase prepared foods like roasted pork, duck, pig and fish, dim sum, roasted pork buns, egg custard tarts, scallion pancakes, noodles, rice and desserts; often cheaper than buying them at a Chinese take-out restaurant.
States are catching on to the demands of Asian markets with the increased consumer interest to prepare pan-Asian meals at home because they are cheaper and perhaps healthier. Asian market reviews can be found online, like the Chowhound along with cooking techniques taught among local communities and multi-media. Consumers are taking control to the ingredients that go into their Asian dishes; buying and cooking in bulk is definitely more budget friendly than calling the order in at restaurants not know how they were prepared. This new wave interest in pan- Asian cuisines will mean more demand for Asian markets to grow state wide where both Asians and non-Asians can go to for all their grocery needs.
Do you know a good Asian market in your community? Please take part in sharing your finds! Here are a few Asian markets for Queens, New York and New Jersey residents:
- Hong Kong Supermarketin the Hong Kong Plaza (37-11 Main St, 718-539-6868) stocks Chinese and Asian groceries.
- Han Ah Reum(29-02 Union St), Korean market
- Hong Kong Market, 265 Route 18, East Brunswick, NJ 08816
- Kam Man Food Inc. 511 Old Post Rd, Edison, NJ 08817
- Asian Food, Rt 79 South Main St., Marlboro, NJ
New York and San Francisco:
State by state, share your finds here and Happy New Year!
Best all around Asian grocery store, Chowhound (covers NY and within tri-state area)
Chowhound official home site
Lunar New Year: Honoring family loved ones who have died, Newark Bereavement & Parenting Examiner