As the largest city in South Texas, one would assume by the requisite Mexican influence that San Antonio’s Asian grocery offerings would be limited. The city is a dream for someone cooking up a Latin feast; it’s not hard to find many of the required ingredients at even the most basic of H-E-B supermarkets. But what about authentic Asian finds?
Fortunately, those seeking Asian ingredients will be pleasantly surprised to find a number of local markets. There are reminders that you’re still in San Antonio though. To wit, I recently carried my purchases home from Seoul Asian Market in plastic bags imprinted with GRACIAS. Here is a quick reference guide to help you source your next Asian-inspired feast.
Seoul Asian Market & Cafe
1027 Rittiman Rd.
The city’s best-stocked Korean supermarket, they relocated two doors down to an even bigger space in a fairly recently renovated strip center right across from Fort Sam Houston. The cafe has pleasant aromas wafting out from the back of the store, and is great to grab a quick lunch.
Fresh, hard-to-find Asian vegetables like baby Napa cabbage, Taiwanese Gobo or young white radishes
Frozen fresh noodles such as Buckwheat, Acorn, and the wide Korean style
Variety of frozen seafood including many octopus and smaller fish
Large selection of dried seasoned seaweed
Kimchi made in-store
Tim’s Oriental and Seafood Market
7015 Bandera Rd.
This well-rounded Chinese and Taiwanese supermarket is also one of the cleanest, and is regarded as the go-to store for San Antonians looking for a solid Chinese supermarket with a good variety.
Myriad Chinese and Taiwanese groceries
Fresh selection of choy sum, baby bok choy, and water celery (or water spinach, a mild green similar to spinach). Note: These go fast and selection can be rather limited.
Dry noodles of all kinds (best selection in the city)
Large variety of frozen dumplings and buns
Lots of candies and cookies (plenty of gift tins)
Fresh Mung Bean cakes
Tokyo Mart Japanese Grocery
825 W. Hildebrand Ave.
A nice little Japanese foods store next to Niki’s Tokyo Inn Restaurant, run by the same owners. If the restaurant has leftover seafood, they will often sell it, frozen, here.
Larger selection of Japanese sauces: soy, mirin, ponzu, etc.
Refrigerated fresh Japanese noodles
Instant Japanese soups
Japanese kitchenware: sushi-making tools, sake cups
Hung Phong Oriental Market
243 Remount St.
The most unusual and bare-bones of the bunch, Hung Phong is a Vietnamese supermarket with a warehouse feel. It has some Thai and Philippine foods thrown in as well. The smell can be pungent, so bypass the sort of exposed meat market in the back. If you’re heading to the produce section, go to the far left of the store, then head toward the back.
Sauces of all kinds
Preserved fish of all kinds (The Vietnamese are known for their variety of preserved fishes in sauce. I was horrified to find a jar that contained the same type of tropical fish I had as a kid, named Al. It never occurred to me that Al was edible, but the label indicated otherwise.)
Vietnamese and Thai brands of seasoned instant noodles
Large selection of Melamine Chinese-themed dishware
Rice and tapioca spring roll wrappers of all sizes
Ice cream pops in taro, mung bean, and mango flavors at good prices. (Located in a freezer to the right of the register in the front.)
5360 Walzem Rd.
A tidy market with groceries in just about Asian category with an emphasis on Vietnam, as the name implies. (For some reason, they even have Heinz ketchup and H-E-B’s brand, Hill Country Fare, ketchup. Talk about thinking through product selection.) Market day is Thursday, so you’ll find the largest and freshest selection of produce then.
Canned fermented vegetables
Dried seaweed snacks
Prawn, shrimp, and other flavored chips
Fresh greens such as yu choy (Mild, similar to Chinese broccoli. See Steamy Kitchen’s blog here for instructions on how to stir fry.)