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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

PLACES: Asian Superstore New York Mart now open in Sunrise

Ethnic markets are one of those places you can go to feel like a tourist in your own town.  If your town, like mine, is Miami, a place called "out your door" basically reminds you you're not in Kansas anymore.  But one of the perks of living in a diverse metropolitan area are those places, like ethnic markets, where you can forget your (insert race/cultural heritage here) for a while.

New York Mart is one of those places.  The majority of South Florida's ethnic markets skew towards the Hispanic and Caribbean because, well, that's who lives here.  Other favorite ethnic markets, like Chinese, Indian, Arab, etc. are fewer and further between.  But New York Mart has filled a void for Asian supermarkets.

My experience with Asian supermarkets is mainly from California (99 Ranch and Yaohan) and in the DC metro area (Han Ah Reum now known as HMart).  These weren't just markets, these were "lifestyle stores" before Colette and The Webster even thought about the concept.  Not only do these stores carry groceries, they've got bakeries, full butcher and seafood counters (with live seafood), video rentals, clothing boutiques, bookstores all under one maddening roof.

New York Mart in Sunrise isn't quite as comprehensive as its sister locations to the north (NYM is part of a chain with locations all over metro NYC (here's a writeup by Serious Eats on the Little Italy location).  This is the first, and so far only, Florida location) but it's got enough to keep one busy.  I got to Level I of my "Four Levels of Getting to Know an Ethnic Market":
Level I: the first visit is met with complete confusion, intimidation and bewilderment. Common questions: "What's that?" "What part of the animal is that from?" "Do you eat this raw or cooked?" "Do I pick a number or do I need to figure out who's last and get pushy after that person is helped?" 
Level II: after a couple of visits I pretty much know where everything is laid out and have some idea of what I want, but try to be inquisitive with the usually annoyed stockboy.  Common questions "What's the difference between these?" "Which one is spicier?" "How do you prepare this?"
Level III: after four or five visits I pretty much resign myself to the fact that I'll never know what 80% of the stuff in the store is used for.  Along with the staples I buy a couple of things that look interesting only to have them sit on my shelf or fridge and go bad.  Common questions: "Are you out of ___?"
Level IV: I go in, buy my sh-t then leave.  Common question: I'm in too much of a hurry to get out to ask any.

Case in point, these little guys.  When you walk into the market you get a sense of the size of the space. Multiple aisles come into view as the steady stream of customers pushes you to your right and straight into the seafood counter.  The size and variety of fish and seafood blows away any mainstream supermarket in South Florida (an easy feat given their strive to stay completely mediocre).  Live shrimp with tails still flapping, live clams and oysters.  And then these guys. They're either for dinner or to race at the Calaveras County fair.  So begins your adventure.

The meat counter is next with freezer bins close by.  Pig stuff is mixed with chicken stuff and it's all one big chaotic mess except to the Chinese ladies who all seem to be bickering with the butchers.  Two entire rows of freezers are dedicated to dumplings and other assorted dim sum.  One freezer carried something I'd only seen on every season of Top Chef but never in person.  Behold black chicken.  Here's it's frozen harder than a glacier, but they're at least available.  But at $10 a pop I'm not sure that a bird described as lean and gamey and tough to work with is worth it.

I get more into my comfort zone when we reach the produce section which is front and center in the store.  Many of the usual suspects are there: bitter melon, bok choy (small, medium and large), etc.  Prices were outrageously cheap and the quality, for the most part, was as good if not better than the local supermarket chain who shall not be named.  Aisles with canned and jarred food are similar but better stocked than those of our local Asian grocers (Lucky, PK Oriental).  Of particular note was this wall of pickles.  All kinds of pickles.  Pickled beans, pickled fruit.  I think I found my missing stapler in a jar, pickled.  Besides the pickle wall you'll also find the instant noodle soup wall, the chili/garlic siracha section and to my complete confusion, the Spam section with more kinds of Spam than you thought existed (and should probably exist period).  Given the variety and diversity of items the store definitely has a Chinese bent.  Not that it's bad, but don't expect to find furikake or togarashi easily (they may carry out but I may have missed it in the chaos).

This market isn't for beginners and it's a bit of a trek from central Miami.  The strip mall location in Sunrise also houses Pine Court Chinese Bistro (a pretty mediocre restaurant with weekend pushcart dim sum), an Indian market (small but well stocked) and a Doris' Italian Market (don't ask them for bottarga, they don't know what it is and when you explain that it's dried fish roe they'll send you to the Chinese market next door).  But if you feel like a trip to Asia and only have enough time to go down 595 and back, it may well be worth the trip.

New York Mart Yelp page
My New York Mart flickr Set


  1. I am Asian, going to move to Sunrise next week.I used to life in California..I am so exited to know there is a good Asian supermarket... Your description is so helpful :)

  2. Didn't like Pine Court? Went there today for the first and thought the dim sum was very good. Poked my head in the mart. as well, but had to get back to work so will spend more time next time.