Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

Tracking Down Exotic Ingredients for a Hong Kong Dinner

There's nothing on my shopping list this month that I don't already have or can't get locally. That's the beauty of making so many Asian pantry stays pretty well stocked. And with few exceptions, basic Asian ingredients are readily available locally. With Cost Plus, Trader Joe's and Nob Hill Foods, which is right across the street from the Japan Airlines pilot trainee dormitory and thus carries a few extra Asian ingredients, with the exception of the most esoteric of ingredients, I rarely have trouble finding what I need for most Asian meals.

The only problem is that I have to pay double or sometimes triple the price that I would pay at Ten's Market in Oakland. But with gasoline at nearly three dollars a gallon, any savings I might pocket would be cancelled out by the 80-mile round trip. Ditto with ordering from They have a great selection of Asian ingredients, but unless I'm ordering enough to qualify for free delivery, the savings for ordering online would be eaten up by shipping charges. So, if it's just one or two items, and they're available locally, then it's best to purchase them here in town, even at twice the price.