Sunday, July 8, 2012

The SF Market in Chinatown Las Vegas!



     The SF Market is located at 5115 Spring Mountain in Chinatown, Las Vegas.  The name of the shopping center is Pacific Asian Plaza.  There are many good restaurants and shops in this two story plaza style building.  I have done restaurant reviews of the Kung Fu Chef and Island Malaysian Cuisine at this plaza in the past.
     There are several big food markets in Chinatown.  Each market seems to feature food from different regions of asia.  There are many common items that are marketed by all these food stores.  In Korea Town, the Greenland Market offers more food that is appealing to Koreans.  The 99 Ranch Market offers nearly everything that is popular in asia and much of the food appeals to Chinese, Thai and Filipino customers.  The Sunfood Market offers the kind of food that you would find in central China.  There are several more markets in Chinatown that I will review soon.  Many of the rest of the markets have Philippine, Vietnamese and Thailand themes.
     The SF Market seems to have a lot of food that appeals to Chinese shoppers and plenty of food that Vietnamese shoppers seek.  The SF Market carries many fresh Vietnamese herbs that are not commonly found in other stores.  Herbs are a very important part of Vietnamese cuisine.  I noticed that many of the fresh produce items in the store had Vietnamese names along with English or Chinese names on the labels.  There were many Vietnamese customers in the store and many of them had the look of experienced cooks.  That is a good sign that authentic food was for sale!
     Since I am not asian, when I shop at an asian market, I do attract some attention from the asian customers.  The asian customers check me out and they notice the items that I place in my basket.  When they see a basket full of raw specialty items and no pre-prepared packaged food, the asian shoppers seem to give a nod of approval, because they then know that you can cook!  When the asian shoppers pass by, they often stop to make conversation about the asian specialty items and then talk about recipes.  Many of the asian shoppers at Chinatown food markets have some great cooking knowledge and they do like to share cooking information and advice.  Those who want to learn and experience food items from foreign lands seem to get respect while shopping in Chinatown from the people who lived in those overseas places.
     There is nothing wrong with buying pre-packaged prepared food items in an asian market.  In fact, they are a good learning experience for those who have never tasted an item that is new to them.  Prepared food is a nice convenience.  The only problem with only selecting prepared food, is that you will not get much cooking advice from the experienced asian cooks that shop at Chinatown markets!  You may get some brand comparison advice, but that is about all.
     As you can see in the photos above, I shop for items that are not stocked at the average American grocery store.  Some of the items were bargains that could not be passed up!  A big bag of perfect unbroken shelled large walnuts costs a small fortune at an American grocery store.  At the SF Market, it cost less than $2.00!  The Vietnamese perilla herb is a one of a purple and green kind herb that looks great on a plate.  Rice paddy herb and many other hard to find herbs are stocked at this market.  Yard long beans were on sale, so I got a big bag of them.
     If you need good Vietnamese style canned lunch meats for making banh mi sandwiches, then this is the market to go to!  Canned lunch meats are traditional for banh mi.
     Idiot fish from California are a prized item from the only properly managed idiot fish fishery in the world.  The wild caught periwinkle meat was a nice treat.  The SF Market has a large fresh seafood and live seafood selection.
     Like all butcher shops in Chinatown, pork is king!  Very good prices on high quality expertly butchered fresh pork can be found at this market.  I purchased a section of pork belly and some L.A. style Korean kalbi beef ribs.  Traditional asian cuts of beef and pork can be found at this butcher shop.
     The SF Market also stocks traditional earthenware cooking vessels.  Those are hard to find items.  There was a nice selection of quality tableware, cooking utensils and dishes.  I purchased a new asian style noodle soup bowl that really looked nice!
     I highly recommend the SF Market for anyone who is interested in doing some authentic asian cooking!  Plenty of Vietnamese specialty items are stocked at this market.  The SF Market is a big store and it is very clean.  The employees are polite and very helpful when asked questions about food items.
     The SF Market is a great place for a home cook or a chef to shop for asian specialty food items!  Yum!  ...  Shawna