How To Shop at an Asian Supermarket: Product Details, What to Get and All of my Favorite Things

Halo Halo from Max’s Restaurant

I’ve been going to Asian supermarkets and grocery stores for as long as I can remember. I remember the first one I went to as a little girl was a very small, family owned mart in this tiny shopping center located in my hometown where I grew up. My Mom would always drag me there whenever she needed something. At such a young age I did not understand nor appreciate the Filipino cuisine as I do now. There were maybe a handful of items I would beg my mom to get me and they mostly consisted of Filipino candies, chocolate or snacks.

As I grew up, times changed. The marts got bigger and with that, so did my love for shopping at them. I learned to appreciate the cuisine more and most importantly, I learned how to cook it myself! Which meant I learned how to go to the store and not be so overwhelmed by all of the Filipino speaking shoppers and employees, the great amount of unfamiliar produce, starches, sauces, snack, baked goods, etc. Over time my overwhelming feeling turned into excitment!

I now LOVE shopping at Seafood City and I know that you will too! I came to realize that it is almost the same as a regular American grocery store, but enhanced with all of the additional items that are truly needed to make this type cuisine.

So, I am here to tell you that there is no need to be intimidated and they truly do have some great stuff! A lot of my Filipino recipes I post for you will include a lot of these items. I wanted to show them to you in case you decide to try them out at home and so you will easily be able to locate them at the store if you decide to go. I also included some of those fun tasty snacks I mentioned at the beginning that I still love getting to this day. I highly recommend trying if you are feeling adventurous!

Let’s Start with produce and proteins. So, these are actually on opposite sides of the store at the location I went to. However, they go hand in hand in my opinion. They have so much great produce that I tend to have a hard time finding at the regular grocery store. They have a variety of items such as jackfruit, taro root, banana blossom, extra long green beans, Chinese eggplant, uop (squash) and a variety of bananas I didn’t even know existed to name a few. Outside of these items, they do have all regular produce items as well that you will be familiar with.

Their protein section is filled with items that you don’t normally see. They have a fish market there with TONS of seafood options, however due to COVID they have some restrictions as well as limitations. Some of my favorite items you can get there include the following:

  • Milkfish: This type of fish is a flaky, flavorful white fish. It is low in sodium and high in vitamins. When cooked in broth or sauce and paired with rice, it is perfection. I loved eating this growing up. It does contain a lot of bones, but there are milk fish options to where they come deboned already.

  • Longanisa (mini sausages pictured above). This is the chorizo for the Filipinos. It is perfect when paired with eggs and rice and is commonly ate for breakfast. But, there are SO many different recipes you are able to do with these mildly sweet, yet salty flavored mini links.

  • Siopao: Aka ”hot buns”. They are steamed buns stuffed with different proteins in the middle such as chicken, beef or pork. Serve it with soy sauce on the side and you are good to go!

These three items make up a very small percent of all of the protein they have to offer. There is so much more! They slice bacon so thick it is mesmarizing. They offer different types of chicken, pork, beef, seafood. It is truly fascinating to look through it all.

Off the shelf items: Long lasting and perfect for a vast amount of recipes. In addition, some of them are multi-purpose items which is a great thing! So, I will go through photo by photo on each item and how they can be used:

  • Noodles: Well to start, you can honestly use these noodles for literally anything and everything. However, I took photos of the two above because those are the two specific ones I used to make my pancit canton-bihon dish. The first photo shows the Canton noodles which are the thicker noodles and the second photo shows the bihon noodles which are the thinner noodles. Both are used in this dish and when mixed, they make the perfect combination.

  • Vinegar: In Asian cooking you use a variety of vinegars in a variety of dishes such as: salads, sauces, with meats, vegetables, etc. I specifically use the brand: Datu Puti. They have a few types and I love them both. I use the spiced, sugarcane and regular one. They differ in the fact that one is spicy, one is sweet and one is traditional. They also have a soy sauce that I love as well. All great items to always have on hand. I specifically used this in my Adobo recipe that I will be launching SOON!

  • Coconut Gel and Coconut Sport Strings: I recently made a buko (coconut salad) recipe and these two items were used. Don’t let the odd coloring or unfamiliar writing on the labels steer you away. These coconut items taste so pure and its almost like a coconut gummy. It soft and chewy and when mixed with milk and cream it is the perfect dish to cool you down or have for dessert.

  • Spam: I love spam. Period. I wish it was something that most people did not have an aversion to because it is so good! I recently did a post about this. My teriyaki furikake musubi posts explains why and how I love this so much and where my liking came from. This honestly is a great thing to have on hand. You would be surprised at the variety of meals can be made from this little can.

  • Banana Ketchup aka Banana Sauce (not pictured): A surprise twist on regular ketchup. It‘s a sweet ketchup made from bananas. It doesn’t have a strong banana flavor. But, it is sweeter than normal and pairs great with almost everything!

The Best of the Best Filipino Snacks

Last but not least and my favorite part, the snacks! Oh yes, there are SO many great Filipino snacks ranging from fruity snacks, to chips and chocolate. Here we have my absolute go to’s.

  • If you are looking for something sweet, I highly recommend: hello panda filled mini biscuits, pocky sticks and kola’s march bite sized cookie snacks. Each of these items come in multiple flavors such as chocolate, vanilla, strawberry or matcha. My favorite of the three would be the kola‘s march.

  • We then have the chips and salty snacks: chichacorn which are small bite sized corn snacks and they are a mix between chicharron and corn. Now, my absolute favorite of all time brand and chip wise are the calbee shrimp chips. They come in a few different flavors, but to be honest, you cannot go wrong with any of them. They are so addicting and satisfying I could eat a whole bag in one sitting! They are flavorful, light and airy. Its the perfect snack to munch on.

  • My go to fruit based snacks are: the banana chips and dried mangos. These dried mangos are hands down the best ones I’ve ever had. Even in comparison to any other grocery store that is out there.

Now that I have possibly overwhelmed you more than the supermarket would after reading this, you should be ready and on your way to conquering this Filipino supermarket! I hope this guide helps you navigate your way though this exciting, culture filled and fun cuisine. I highly recommend checking out all of my Filipino recipes, they are locacted under “My Filipino Favorites”. I will constantly be updating this section with new recipes. So, keep an eye out!

If you make anything, I would love to see it! So, remember to tag @prettyplatebymichelle on instagram.

Happy Shopping!

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