Super King Grocery Store in Los Angeles

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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And an entire roasted nut bar!

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I’ve never seen fresh grape leaves at a supermarket – but Super King had’m!

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Look at all these pickling cucumbers

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The produce section was the most congested of the entire store and that is saying a lot because it is MASSIVE.

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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!

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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I guess lula is what you use to make kabobs.

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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.

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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.

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Also – if 40 kinds of rice is too limited of a selection for you – look no further.

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Like a big selection of dry pasta, too?

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And where else can you spot a SELECTION of ghees??  (Ghee is clarified butter.  I use it making Indian food.)

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The olive oil aisle was over the top, too, as was the cheese aisle – especially as regards feta cheese.

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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.

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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!

CLOSED – Figueroa Produce – a Great Resource for Vegans-Raw Dairy Fans-Hormone Free Meat Eaters and Vegetarians

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http://figueroaproduce.com/

I’m writing today about something my pal Dave Wayne has long sung the praises of  (pardon that awkward grammar) – a great resource for vegetarians & vegans & even meat eaters who prefer hormone-free meats – Figueroa Produce.  It is located at

6312 N Figueroa St • Los Angeles, CA • 90042

just north of York – in a corner mall with one toe in Highland Park & the other in Eagle Rock – across the parking lot from a ubiquitous & DEPRESSING .99 cent store.  This is a counter-intuitive location for a supermarket of this kind.  The community is largely Hispanic & almost entirely low income.  Maybe the Eagle Rock – Highland Park corner is key?  Both Eagle Rock & Highland Park are trying to be the next Silverlake (think hipster) – with Eagle Rock having a substantial edge – but what’s up with hipsters?  Are they rich?  They actually CAN afford to buy the next size up (or three) in a skinny jean (which they desperately need) – but rather – opt to keep wearing the ones I can only assume they grew out of 150,000 calories ago because they like male muffin tops & that awful extra crotch area that is created when they are too fat to pull their pants up to the appropriate position?  At least hip hop kids who CHOOSE not to pull their pants up have UNDERWEAR ON beneath their defying-the-laws-of-physics-low-slung jeans – so we are spared any unwelcome information about their nether regions.  Hipsters actually cannot physically get their jeans up anywhere near the hip zone, strain their top button in a spot just below the pubic line creating a good four inches of crotch air in the upper-thigh area & another good four inches of ass-crackage revealed if they – God forbid – decide to squat.

Anyway – are these fuckers wealthy enough to regularly purchase vegan cheeses and pastured eggs & hormone & antibiotic-free meats?    Because somebody is keeping this place in business and I don’t think is is the Mexican & Guatemalan communities in there buying heirloom tomatoes, vegan egg yolk substitute, gluten-free flour & vegan chipotle sausage.

But I digress.  Figueroa Produce is a very friendly, community market selling high end products at FAR better prices than Whole Foods or my arch nemesis – Gelson’s.  They sell no alcohol or cigarettes but they have a whopping selection of specialty flours & grains (gluten-free and otherwise)

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Sorry these are blurry.  I always feel so suspicious-looking when I’m photographing inside grocery stores.  Not sure why.  And look at the refrigerated cheese section – with its nearly overwhelming selection of vegan dairy & meat items:

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Yeah!  You can’t see it well here but that is, in fact, NACHO TEESE!!!   And they carry both raw milk & cheese AND actual pastured eggs!

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Pastured eggs are eggs from chickens who live like they did on Green Acres – out on PASTURE – foot loose & fancy free.  There is no Federal definition of free range and if you think cage-free or free range means ANYTHING REMOTELY HUMANE is going on with the chickens – watch this VIDEO on Youtube.  It shows you a hundred free range chickens who – after doing their time as egg layers – got rescued by a sanctuary to live a happy life til their natural deaths.  Please look.  It isn’t gruesome – like slaughterhouse footage.  It just shows you how DEEEEEEPLY emotionally & physically scarred these poor birds are – and these are the “lucky” ones.  Factory farmed ones with no nod toward humane conditions create far worse results.  I can’t get these chickens out of my head – so – I was gratified to find there WERE humane alternatives.  They cost more – but so do jeans not made by children in sweatshops.  Where you spend your money creates the world we live in.  Who you give your money to is a large part of your own morality.  Six pastured eggs cost $5 – but the chickens are treated in a genuinely humane way – so there is no blood on your hands.  A more than fair trade – if you ask me.  And the more other egg (dairy, meat etc) producers see that there are people who will pay more for a kinder product – the more kind product gets produced.

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Stepping off the soap box – I continue.  There is a large MEAT section here –

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but I did not inquire as to the sources or kindness factors related to the contents.  I don’t eat meat – so I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time.  There was a separate case with organic meats that said they were antibiotic-free – and there was seafood in there as well as – like – bison etc.

I saw a sign advertising HOMEMADE vegan sausage, however, and that intrigued me.  I inquired & was told that they were not currently available as the maker was tweaking the recipe.  A super friendly deli hipster offered me several samples of Daiya vegan cheese and some vegan sliced chicken & vegan sliced bacon.  They came in big square blocks, like cheese, and got sliced on the deli slicer like any other deli meat.  The faux chicken was good, the faux bacon was sorta chemically.  Then I was offered some jalapeno grilling cheese which had been pan fried & was served with a fresh basil leaf on top.  OMG!!!  I nearly bought every package they had in stock.  This shit is ridiculous!

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I bought a half pound of sliced Daiya cheddar for $4 and some shredded vegan mozzarella – to attempt a vegan pizza.  It looks grey & less than promising but – I’ll try anything once.  Kinda.

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Figueroa Produce also has – believe it or not – fresh PRODUCE!

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It seems pretty standard but the HUGE heirloom tomatoes were only $4 a pound.  I think Gelson’s charges you $4 just to look at their heirloom tomatoes – but maybe I’m exaggerating.  I’m not sure if everything they have there is organic or not but if I had to guess – I’d say probably.  They also had an interesting selection of bulk spices which I neglected to photograph.

They sell a brand or two of high end dog food & other staples.  I found these curious items there:

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Ew!  Sweet potato jello.  In a can.  Gross.  And zero-calorie jam!

They have $13 Salted Caramel ice cream – which I have had and it is awesome.  Basically – they have a tiny selection of the staples and a huge selection of the exotic (meaning vegan or gluten-free blah blah blah).  If you have special diet needs – Figueroa Produce just might be the place for you.   So break out your high school jeans & squeeze your fat thighs half way into them, don an ironic & hideous Christmas sweater & head on over to Figueroa Produce.  And BE SURE to ask someone to let you sample the Goddamn grilling cheese.  You are gonna shit yourself.  And not to worry – as you will have lots of room for it in your gapping crotched pants.

Bangluck Thai Market

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

I touched upon this place a while back in my Drunken Noodle post.  I feel it deserves another, more complete review.

First of all – I suppose I could be accused of being a shopaholic.  I shop & shop & stock up & buy multiples of the same thing.  I have nowhere to put stuff – and still I buy more.  But – I’m not talking about clothes or shoes or any other items typically the object of desire in a shopper’s life.  I am fascinated by & cannot resist ethnic spices & sauces & condiments etc.  Let me prove it by showing you my pantry & spice drawers (and cabinet).  I realize some of you might see these & call one of those hoarder reality shows on me – but I am gonna show you anyway.

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Before you ask – NO – I do not eat Spaghettios.  Those are for my boyfriend who has unusual tastes of his own.

The best thing about ethnic markets whether they be Spanish or Indian or Thai or whatever – they tend to sell spices REALLY CHEAP.  I saw a std jar of cardamom pods at Gelson’s today for $16.  This size (stock photo)

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I bought this whopper of a ten ouncer at the Indian market for $20.

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More than ten times the quantity for $4 more.  The same supermarket size of turmeric was $8.  I got 16oz today (the biggest jar here) for under $6.

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Often the cheapest spices come in cellophane bags and you will need a jar to transfer them into – but you will save SO much money – buying some cheap spice jars won’t hurt you at all.

Here is the store front at Bangluck – 5170 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027 –

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And here are some shots of the wealth of treasures to be found inside:

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8000 brands of bamboo shoots.

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An entire aisle of dried noodle varieties.

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EVERY Asian condiment ever conceived.

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Your favorite brand(s) of canned quail eggs.

And then canned curries & soup stocks from which you can make restaurant quality Thai food by just adding a can of this stuff to some noodles or veggies or rice.

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I have no idea what that hotdog & balls are (Better penis jokes to follow.  Be patient).  Nor do I want to eat a can of smiling fish – whatever the Hell that is.  Whatever it is – it seems fitting that it is right near the phallic/testicular wonderland above.

Oh, wait.  They are seasoned cockles.  Ew.  I tend to be a purist when it comes to cockles.  No seasoning. Ever.

Speaking of penises – there is no shortage (pardon the pun) of cock jokes to be had at BANGLUCK.  Perhaps intentionally so.  Here – somebody pickled ma-cock.

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Wooohooo!  It sure is fun making fun of things I don’t understand.  It keeps me from feeling inferior.

Speaking of things I don’t understand – last time around I shared this completely unmarked package with you:

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There was a great deal of guessing as to WTF these could be – in the frozen section of meat & fish department.  I think they are silkworm pupae.  Click that phrase there – see if you agree.

Today – I found something even more upsetting.  WAY down in the secret meat & fish section – see?  Way back there?

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Ready?  Because – I mean – yuck.

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Yup!  That’s right!  For $4.49 – you could be the proud owner of four frozen giant water bugs.  Come on!  Who hasn’t – in college or some time – gotten a terrible case of the munchies and bemoaned the dearth of  – you know – Ben & Jerry’s or – YES – giant water bugs in the freezer???  You know who you are.  Anyway –

Good news!  Bangluck has LOTS of them!  AND – for those of us watching our waists – you can guiltlessly eat the entire package for the low, low count of only 35 calories – only 15 calories coming from fat.  (That’s actually almost 50% fat.  Are avocados that fatty?  Who knew exoskeleton was so rich?  Or are these guys the equivalent of an eclair?  Egads!)

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Among the other exotic selections are – BALLS – made of I-don’t-know-what.

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CHEAP produce & what seems to be cheap meat:

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And shallots the size of apples

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Hot outside?  Want somebody’s forgotten soda?  No worries!  Bangluck has THAT, too!  Right there is fridge #15.  Just keeping it chilled for you!

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Cooking tools & serving dishes:

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Need rice?   YEAH!  Got THAT!

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How about some shrimp crackers in a really cool package?  CHECK!  And you can feel good about eating these because they were made under the VERY strict manufacturing oversight of China!

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Fish chips?  Yeah – even that frothy beer doesn’t make that very wet & raw white fish there a decent sales rep for a CRACKER.

“Love these crackers.  I just wish they were more like raw scrod,” — said NOBODY EVER.

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So – in closing – I’d just like to promote Bangluck as an amazing source of FRESH noodles

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like I used in my vegetarian PHO recipe.  And the wide flat variety from the Drunken Noodles.

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Every sort of curry in a rainbow of varieties can be found here – powdered, canned, as a paste, as a curry ready for just adding vegetables to.  Spices dirt cheap.  EVERY kind of Asian dry noodle.  Rices you have never heard of in quantities from under a pound to “feed a prison system.”  Produce is really cheap & if you are brave or – or if maybe you just really enjoy lower intestinal distress – you could sample the meat & fish offerings.    You can buy nori here for making sushi for .99 cents – where the EXACT SAME THING a mile away at the evil Gelson’s costs $5.

And the best thing is – you can fill your little red basket thing until it is too heavy to carry – and still get outta there for under $30.

Don’t forget the giant water bugs for the kids!!!

And PS – the Thai place next door – Samalammadingdong?  If only I could PHOTOGRAPH how good the smells coming out of there are – ALL THE TIME.  Also – definitely worth a trip!

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