All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013
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My friend Bobbe emailed me today & said that there was a grocery store in Glassell Park – a neighborhood on the east side of Los Angeles – that I simply HAD to experience to believe. She warned that the parking lot would be nuts but promised I would “Die! I mean DIE!” when I went to this joint. She mentioned hard to find fresh herbs (red basil) for prices like .69 cents a bunch. ‘Nuff said.
An hour later – I fucking went!
I navigated the parking lot fairly well (10:30am mid-week) & approached the entrance. It was like a farmer’s market out front with tons of produce piled up everywhere for crazy low prices! Check this out.
I was immediately overwhelmed & my heart started racing. I cannot explain why. There was just a general sense of frenzy in the air – like at a Filene’s Basement or Fred Segal blow-out sale. I blew off everything outside so that I could begin the more intimate exploration of the interior of Super King.
Super King, it seems, caters to a lot of Eastern Europian & Middle Eastern folks. Hispanics, too, but the foods there that they had in conspicuous quantity seemed Mediterranean or Eastern European or Middle Eastern. Look! Raw almonds! REALLY RAW!
And an entire roasted nut bar!
I’ve never seen fresh grape leaves at a supermarket – but Super King had’m!
Look at all these pickling cucumbers
The produce section was the most congested of the entire store and that is saying a lot because it is MASSIVE.
I notice it doesn’t look very hectic in that photo but it was. Once you head in & to the left – people are all zombie walking & leaving carts in the way & grabbing at vegetables. I was most impressed by the fresh herbs which really were very varied & abundant & CHEAP!
Five bunches of parsley or cilantro? 99 cents. For FIVE. Mint – 3 for .99. I pay $4 for an anemic little bunch at Gelson’s. And look at the cost of kale.
Several varieties and practically free.
Also impressive was the VAST selection and not just of standards. They had the sometimes hard to find celery root & kohlrabi & just everything imaginable. They even had these golden beets (that would cost about $5 each at Gelson’s – if Gelson’s ever had them).
At Super King? They were .69 cents a pound! I got three huge ones for $1.81!!!
When I was taking the panoramic shots, this guy stopped me.
In the blue with the vest. See how suspicious he looks? He stopped me & asked what I was doing. I explained that I was amazed at the store & was just taking some photos.
“No photos!” he spat at me, like the Soup Nazi. No photos? WTF? Super King isn’t exactly on the Homeland Security Department’s list of high risk targets. What did he think I was doing? Casing the place?
“I have a blog,” I explained. “I want to do a story about this place.”
“No photos. Not allowed!” he said, sounding less convinced himself that this was actually a rule. “The competition…”
Competition? I thought he meant there was some kind of competition involving blogs & supermarkets. I looked at him stupidly.
“Our competitors. We do not want them seeing our prices.”
Competitors? Prices? First of all, competitors can just walk in the freakin’ door, just like I did, and see the prices. And B, their prices are what makes Super King so great. And they have a fucking web site – HERE – telling everyone about their prices. But, for some reason, the silver fox Armenian in the sweater vest didn’t like me taking pictures. So – I said, “Just this ONE, ok?” And I took the shot that included him in it. From there on out, I felt like a terrorist every time I took my camera out. Which I did – many more times – but mostly in the aisles that sold non-perishables. Those aisles were ghost towns. It was the produce & meat sections that had throngs of pushy, desperate people cockblocking you at every turn. At any rate – between my accelerated pulse & the furtive nature of my photography – the photos in the blog are scant & lame. Apologies.
OK – let’s talk about the meat department. I took a number, number 92, and then looked in the mile of cases. It seemed every cut of beef was near $4 a pound and pork was closer to $2. Isn’t that cheap? I don’t know. I never buy meat. They had marinated meats & regular meats & prepared meats like these lulas.
I guess lula is what you use to make kabobs.
On the shelf beneath the meat cases there were about 76 million brands of lavash.
Seafood was cheap, too, but didn’t look super awesome & didn’t indicate whether or not it was farmed. Still – I bought a pound of shell-on shrimp for $7.99. I opted to eschew the head-on variety. Oof.
Here is another very special thing about Super King. SPICES. A wall of spices. Ethnic groceries are always the best source of cheap spices & Super King did not disappoint.
Also – if 40 kinds of rice is too limited of a selection for you – look no further.
Like a big selection of dry pasta, too?
And where else can you spot a SELECTION of ghees?? (Ghee is clarified butter. I use it making Indian food.)
The olive oil aisle was over the top, too, as was the cheese aisle – especially as regards feta cheese.
They also sell liquor at Super King. I had just come from Costco where I priced a bottle of tequila for May 5. Unless I am mistaken – the bottle I looked at (in the bright green box) was $69.99 at Costco – but only $36.99 at Super King. But – sometimes the signs at Costco can get confusing. Maybe I misread them.
At any rate – I am absolutely IN LOVE with Super King. Apparently, there are several locations so go to their site & see if there is one near you. A little extra drive is worth the effort. I promise!