WesAtRedBean's Profile

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ZONGZI aka CHINESE TAMALES SFBA Dish of the Month May 2014

Big +1 to the zongzi at Gum Wah (345 8th St) in Oakland! $2.25 apiece makes them a great deal, too!

May 29, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area

Any recs for Chinese specialty food shops in bay area?

Feels good to "give something back" after receiving your awesome suggestions, so...

Just this morning in Oakland Chinatown, I happened upon the Green Tea Kit Kats that periodically set off a small online furor. There are two boxes at Won Kee Supermarket at 216 7th St. $4.99 a bag. First time I've seen them in a long time.

Hope this helps someone!

May 13, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area

Any recs for Chinese specialty food shops in bay area?

Drumroll! Here's my report!

I started in search of gourmet Chinese food shops around the bay area, defined as either: a) artisanal producers using quality ingredients and traditional techniques; b) direct importers who work directly with suppliers; or, c) innovators updating old favorites for contemporary tastes. I'm also requiring clearly labeling as a requirement to exclude grocers and a myriad of fresh foods.

Your definition may differ, but I thought this was a good starting place. Here is the list of some of my favorites, after having visited all locations on this list:

Teas:
- Red Blossom Tea Company (831 Grant Ave, SF): Direct importer of premium looseleaf teas from around China.
- Ten Ren Teas (Various Locations): Ubiquitous boxed teas, but company stores also stock looseleaf varieties.
- Aroma Tea Shop (Clement & Chinatown, SF): A looseleaf tea shop that's a bit more accessible for newbies.

Bakeries:
- Kee Wah Bakery (Various Locations): Hong Kong-style bakery with fresh baked goods, and many delicately-flavored cakes and cookies.
- Sheng Kee Bakery (Various Locations): Family-owned California bakery with great packaged cookies.
- Sogo Bakery (Various Locations): Taiwanese Bakery with the best mooncakes on this bakery list.

Tofu:
- Wo Chong (863 Washington St, SF): All organic, non-GMO tofu.
- Sogo Tofu (1600 S De Anza Blvd, SJ): All organic, non-GMO tofu plus soy milk (and amazing steam table).

Snack Foods:
- Heartland (Sunset, SF, Fremont & Sunnyvale): Organic, all-natural snacks imported from Taiwan.
- Jackson Market (1201 Jackson St, SF): Chinese-influenced beef jerky made fresh.

Honorable Mention:
- Mow Lee Shing Kee (774 Commercial St, SF): Delicious Chinese sausage, but no product labeling.
- Wycen Foods (832 Stockton St, SF): Same as above.
- Vua Kho Bo (10919 N Wolfe Rd, Cupertino & Milpitas): Good looking jerky, but no product labeling.

Whew, feels really cool to see a list in one place! That's it for now. Eager to hear your thoughts!

May 12, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area
2

How do you stock your Chinese kitchen?

Totally agree with these lists. For me, the key has been keeping the pantry stocked with these items at all times. In the past, I was forever one ingredient short for a dish I wanted to make on a particular night. In the course of work, commute, etc, that was enough to dissuade me from doing much Chinese cooking at home. Such common sense, of course, but having a fully stocked pantry makes Chinese cooking at home just as easy and convenient as Western cooking. With some easy supplementation of proteins and vegetables during the regular weekly Safeway or Whole Foods run, many 30 minutes meals become possible on a regular week night.

May 06, 2014
WesAtRedBean in Home Cooking

Any recs for Chinese specialty food shops in bay area?

Haven't forgotten about my report! I'm hoping to make it down to some of the South Bay places this week. It's been tough finding a window to sneak a trip in and around rush hours!

May 03, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area

Any recs for Chinese specialty food shops in bay area?

I agree with your assessment. It's tough to categorize the jerky...the preparation isn't 100% traditionally Chinese per se (even though oyster sauce and soy sauce are the first two ingredients) — it's more "Chinese-influenced" in my book. That said, it's good stuff and a fun snack. I polished off my bag in a couple of days.

Apr 22, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area

Any recs for Chinese specialty food shops in bay area?

Thank you for this suggestion. I stopped in yesterday, the store is located right off Portsmouth Square above the parking garage (which, btw, at $3 an hour still has to be one of the best deals in the city).

As advertised, the store does stock veggie and organic foods, but it fell short of being a "specialty" store for me. The natural foods are merchandised alongside more typical Chinese grocery fare like big brand sauces, packaged foods and mixes, which makes it difficult to tell what's all natural and what's not. Perhaps with time, the store will move further in the organic direction.

Apr 17, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area

Any recs for Chinese specialty food shops in bay area?

I stopped in at Jackson Market yesterday...after a march up the hill from Stockton St that left me completely out of breath. Wonderful little store -- thanks for the recommendation!

Made me smile to see the storefront almost entirely empty, except for a jerky-making operation furiously working in the back kitchen. That's focus.

I tasted the original recipe beef jerky. Delicious, with a very simple ingredient list: beef, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, starch and water. Available for purchase in person and online at the URL Melanie shared.

Apr 17, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area

Any recs for Chinese specialty food shops in bay area?

Melanie, thanks again for this recommendation. I visited Heartland today and tagged on a report to your original post. Really fantastic spot and exactly what I was seeking. Now if only I could find a store specializing in Chinese beef jerky and assorted Chinese sweet brittles and candies! ~Wes

Apr 14, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area

Heartland Healthy Food, Irving St, San Francisco

I visited Heartland Healthy Food this afternoon and can report that it's a real find for people seeking organic Chinese snacks and specialty foods.

Most everything in the store is organic without preservatives, colorings or artificial ingredients. You'll find predominantly teas, dried fruits, teas, dried noodles and snacks like almond cookies and sesame candies.

What's particularly notable about the store is that everything is made from natural ingredients with packaging that's easy to decipher. Of course, such products exist at other Chinese grocery stores, but they're much more difficult to pick out and verify when they're mixed together with other products. There's a buyer confidence that comes from this clear approach to merchandising.

I spoke with Annie behind the counter who was very helpful explaining the ingredients in different products, as well as making recommendations for various "must try" foods.

As Melanie notes, there's a branch in Sunnyvale, as well as another in Fremont.

I wish it were easier to find more specialty stores like this.

---
Heartland additional locations:
43494 Ellsworth St
Fremont, CA 94539

1170 Kern Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94085

Apr 14, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area

Any recs for Chinese specialty food shops in bay area?

@Melanie - Ack! Thanks for that information about the reply function.

@All - These are all great recommendations! I'm going to get out to see as many as possible in the next couple of days and I'll let everyone know what I find!

Wes

Apr 14, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area

Any recs for Chinese specialty food shops in bay area?

That's an awesome list, Robert! Again, I may have to spend a day walking through and then share back a few updated reviews.

Apr 14, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area

Any recs for Chinese specialty food shops in bay area?

I like the look of Heartland. Noticed that there weren't any follow ons to the post you referenced, so maybe I'll go today and share a review.

Thanks for the Mow Lee Shing Kee & Company recommendation. I love makers that continue to use traditional methods like that!

How about any places down on the Peninsula around Cupertino or Milpitas?

Apr 14, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area

Any recs for Chinese specialty food shops in bay area?

Thanks - I'm definitely aware of the supermarkets. I'm more looking for specialty shops that are selling more craft or artisanal versions of the products you can find more generally at Ranch 99, in Chinatown et al.

For example, like a shop selling TCHO chocolate vs. Hershey.

Apr 13, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area

Any recs for Chinese specialty food shops in bay area?

Hi - I'm a big fan of stores like Red Blossom Tea and Aroma Tea Shop in SF, bakeries like Sheng Kee and Kee Wah and newer arrivals like 85C that make (or import) really high quality versions of old Chinese favorites.

Are there are any similar "specialty" or "gourmet" Chinese food shops around the bay area? I'm not asking about restaurants, but rather looking for places that sell snacks, teas, candies, spices and other pantry staples.

Thanks so much!

Wes

Apr 13, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area

Searching for 7D Dried Mangoes

OK, thanks everyone for the help!

Apr 12, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area

Searching for 7D Dried Mangoes

Hi Everyone,

I'm searching for a store to buy 7D brand dried mangoes in the SF Bay Area and I'm striking out. I've tried placed like Filipino grocery stores and Ming Lee in SF Chinatown without luck.

Has anyone had any recent sightings?

Wes

Apr 08, 2014
WesAtRedBean in San Francisco Bay Area