STOCKTON STREET: YOUR OTHER FOOD ENVIRONMENT
I think they’re from Iowa. I’ve heard there’s nothing worthwhile there.
They may also be from Oakland, however.
Most residents of the greater Chinatown area do not frequent Grant Avenue very much.
Reason being that all the real stores are up on Stockton. Dry goods, bottled and canned ingredients, fresh fruit and vegetables, live seafood, fresh and preserved meats, soup fixings.....
蟲草城海味店 - STOCKTON SEAFOOD CENTER
The last time I strolled into 蟲草城 ('bug grass city') on Stockton Street, there were no other non-Cantonese people there. Which is extremely odd - there is so much on their shelves and in their bins that the good people of Iowa (or Oakland) might not have seen before. Surely they can use their cellphone cameras to capture the moment for aunt Doris back home in Iowa or Oakland? Nevertheless, every time I go there, not a tourist in sight.
蟲草城海味店 is located in the Old St. Mary's School building, right on the corner of Stockton and Clay, you cannot miss it. Bins of dried fish of every variety, as well as the full gamut of herbs used in tonic soups and stews.
It bills itself as the 'Stockton Seafood Center, Inc.'. There is NO fresh fish there, but if you want conpoy, or trepang, or ebi, it is absolutely THE place.
You should probably know what you want before you go in, as the staff may find explaining what they stock a little difficult - they have good reason to assume that their customers are already somewhat knowledgeable, and in any case Chinese-conversant.
海鲜世界 - A SIDETRACK FOR THE FASTIDIOUS FLEMING
Stockton Street is also where you can find fresh eels. If you love Paling Int Groen ("anguilles au vert") as much as I do, you should know this.
In fact, you may have purchased 黄带 several times already.
Alas, fresh sorrel is NOT available on Stockton Street - it isn't a traditional Chinese ingredient - but you can order it from some of the food stores elsewhere in the city. It does not keep for more than a day, so simply chop it up and cook it with a little olive oil till it softens, then freeze it for later use.
For the tarragon, you should probably grow it in a window box. A little bit goes a long way.
Eels, by the way, are also very good with mashed fermented blackbeans. Just add plenty of garlic, and frazzle up the chunks with wine and chopped bellpepper. They will add their own rich gelatin to the sauce.
海鲜世界 is on the West Side of Stockton Street, between Jackson and Pacific, framed by Pacific Seafood Trading Co. and Family Depot. I don't believe it has an English name, hence the creative reading I have given for the characters, which actually should be translated as 'fresh seafood world'.
There is much more there than just eel, they also have a good selection of fresh-caught fish, and different sizes of shrimp, crab, shellfish, lobster.
Live usually costs about twice the price of the recently deceased, varying slightly based on availability.
大發人參海味行 - IVY'S EXQUISITE FOOD COMPANY
This is a primary resource for ingredients used in tonic soups, as well as dried fruits, various luxury ingredients, plus hair vegetable, tofu skin sticks, soy bean sheet, gon taufu, preserved pork strips, lapcheung, dried abalone, etcetera.
The San Francisco Chinatown location has only been open a short time, just up from Stark Alley, between Broadway and Pacific. I believe they have a somewhat longer history in Oakland C'town.
Very attentive staff, fluent in both Cantonese and Mandarin.
NOTE: Next post will be about eating on Stockton Street.
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