A Tour of International Markets in Norcross
You can eat your way around the world in a few-mile radius. Here's the plan for a tour of local flavor.
If you live in Norcross, you have the blessing of the world's foods at your fingertips. Here are the best places to find new flavors.
Best for Vietnamese Food: Hong Kong Supermarket
Though the name suggests you might just find Chinese specialities, Vietnamese is also a main cuisine of influence at this mammoth market. The packed bulletin boards at the entrance are a testament to how this markets serves as a cultural meeting place for the local Asian community.
In addition to household goods, like ornate ceramic teapots at the bargain-basement price of $4.59 and traditional conical hats, you'll find a busy fish market with fresh, well-priced options and an incredible array of fruits and vegetables. Spiny green jackfruits, plump Asian pears and massive Chinese okra are just a few of the exotic produce.
For those less inclined to put together a traditional meal, there are literally aisle-full of premade options, including nine freezers of frozen dumplings of every imaginable shape and stuffing. Yong Phat bakery in Lawrenceville delivers popular sweets and the food court is hopping no matter what time of day you visit.
Try this traditional fish preparation, with some dumplings as an appetizer.
Best for African Food: Oluchi Tropical Market
Though you'll certainly find touches of the Caribbean at Oluchi, this shop mostly reflects proprietor Didi Chuks' roots in Nigeria.
She said she wants her market to give people "a taste of home, of the things you used to eat." The small shop is given life with Nigerian gospel music and Chuks will happily guide you through the ingredients for a traditional African dish of Palm-Palm Soup or Jollof Rice. She suggests eating the soup with fufu. "It's kind of like a mashed potato but from Africa," says Chuks with a wide, bright smile.
Try this Jollof Rice recipe, using Maggi spice cubes from Oluchi.
Best for British Food: Taste of Britain
This quaint shop in Historic Norcross is chock-a-block with treats from abroad, including a variety of teas, candies and frozen goods. Thought that baked beans were strictly American? Think again. The iconic British Heinz Beans, which often go along with a traditional breakfast, are stocked up at Taste of Britain. The Robertson's Golden Shred Seville Orange Marmalade and Silver Shred Lemon Marmalade are in high demand, as are the Walker's Crisps.
Customers, of course, go straight for the tea. Among those brands you won't find in the regular grocery, Thphoo, Yorkshire Red and PG Tips come recommended by the staff.
In the back freezers, you'll find all sorts of "bangers" to whip up a hearty dish of bangers and mash, in addition to imported meat pies that pair nicely with a cold winter night. There's a dream selection of British sweet for candy-cravers, with everything from Bounty to Yorkie to Curly Whirly in supply.
Use your bangers in this traditional dish.
Best for Indian: Global Groceries
This well-stocked market tucked into the corner of the Global Mall has everything you'll need for an Indian feast. Start on the left-hand side of the market, which houses supersized quantities of Indian spices, from black onion seeds to vibrant orange turmeric. Muhammad Iqbal, who works at the shop, says that most Indian spices have unique medicinal properties. "People mix the black onion seeds with honey and eat it first thing in the morning," says Iqbal.
As you work your way through the store, you'll find drinks, like Thumbs Up and Horlicks, and biscuits—throwbacks from the British colonial rule in India. Next you'll see sweet and fiery "pickles" of all kinds, which are served as a side dish with meals. Finally, there are many varieties of the flour, including chickpea and barley flour, which Iqbal sings the praises of. "Once an outlaw stayed in the thick jungle for weeks, surviving just on barley flour," says Iqbal.
You will not walk away without your sweet tooth satisfied. There's a cooler with frozen desserts on the way out and trays of homemade baked goods, including the saccharine jalebi, a sweet made from chickpea flour soaked in jaggery, a kind of raw sugar used in Indian cooking.
Try this dhal, or lentil, curry recipe as an introduction. It's one of the most popular dishes in India.
Best for Middle Eastern Food: Al Madina Halal Market
This market is half home goods store, with beautiful rugs and intricately decorated ceramics, and half Middle Eastern food shop, with a wide variety of halal meats and other dry goods. The Alwazah Tea from Sri Lanka should go beautifully with the pistachio halva or Hazerbaba Turkish Delight, generously coated with pistachios, almonds and hazelnuts.
There's also a wide variety of Lebanese tahini in plastic tubs. In the freezer section, you'll find plenty of readymade wonders, including the spiced lentil samosas.
Make a rich and creamy hummus with your new tahini.
Best for Mexican: Brito Supermarket
Less a supermarket and more of a mini-mall, Brito, in the Plaza Latina at 5735 Buford Hwy, has a wide variety of grocery items and a killer bakery with oversized treats sure to make the eyes pop.
The juice aisle is packed with nectars and juices from afar. Brave the tomato and shrimp juice called Camaronazo, recommended with a spike of tequila--and not for the faint of heart.
There are lots of tropical fruits, like guava and mango, peeled, chopped and packaged so they are ready to eat or throw in a salad. The meat market has premade cuts for fajitas, as well as a large selection of other meats.