I had an excellent shopping adventure with Uncle Teddy today in Chinatown. First we took care of some queen business on Broadway, successfully outfitting Ted in new jeans and a beautiful, blue suit. Then we headed east, literally and figuratively, so I could find some Asian ingredients for my planned Oscar party food.
My list included rice vinegar, mirin, coconut milk, cabbage, ground pork, wonton wrappers, ginger, and lemons. I quickly took care of the ginger (25 cents), coconut milk (75 cents), and vinegar ($1) at some small shops on Mott Street, but I was really hoping to find a giant indoor market more comfortable for browsing.
We turned onto Elizabeth Street and came upon the Dynasty Supermarket, my new favorite grocery store, surpassing even Western Beef. Aisle after aisle of sauces and condiments, and a huge meat section full of the bizarre cuts I like to see but not buy. There were pig’s ears, duck’s feet, all variety of tongues and stomachs, and, ladies and gentlemen, for the sum of $3.59 per pound, you can buy cow penis at Dynasty. I had never seen a cow penis before. I just did a google image search, which I regret, but it did confirm that what I saw shrink-wrapped at Dynasty was the real deal.
All I bought at Dynasty was ground pork ($1.98 per pound!) and wonton wrappers (98 cents). I got the cabbage ($1) and lemons (3 for $1) from a street grocer, but I never did find the mirin. I didn’t really know what it was until just now looking it up on wikipedia. We looked in the right sections, but maybe it goes by other names.
Teddy took me to one of the fish markets that I’m so scared of, and he showed me how the ordering and gutting process works. People pick a live fish, the guy wraps it up and hands the customer a ticket, and then he throws it down this chute to the back of the store, where it’s gutted and cleaned. It looks straightforward enough—I just have to pick a fish I’ll be able to recognize.
I can’t wait to live further downtown. I’d love to do more exploring and eventually do most of my grocery shopping in these crazy, cheap stores. You’d be a fool to buy anything Asian, or foreign for that matter, at Whole Foods or FreshDirect. Whatever it is, it’s less than a dollar in Chinatown or some other ethnic enclave. I had three bags of groceries for $6! A quick calculation of FreshDirect’s prices for these same products comes to nearly $15 for the same quantities. I can only imagine what it would be at Whole Foods!