Saturday, February 20, 2010

An Unexpected Trip to Austin's Chinatown

Following a less-than-satisfying brunch at Z'Tejas and oh-so-satisfying mani/pedis, I went with my good friends ScurvyGirl and Bea Dazzler to explore MT Supermarket. Located in Austin's Chinatown, MT Supermarket has been Central Texas's go-to Asian grocery since 1984. As this was my first visit to an Asian market, I attempted to capture the experience via iPhone camera. Enjoy!

These lanterns greeted us as we entered the store.

Bea Dazzler models a traditional Chinese hat.

Crowded market.

You may wonder what "international foods" include at an Asian market in Austin, Texas. We did. Answer? Mostly foodstuffs of the Japanese and Indian variety.

In case you were unsure of where exactly to find dried white fungus, Bea Dazzler spotted this.

I can't tell you how many different varieties of dried shrimp there were...because I stopped counting. (Also found in numerous quantities: a not-so-surprisingly unappealing variety of dried anchovies.)

No idea.

ScurvyGirl pointed out that this impressively packaged whole fish could also be used as a weapon.

Live fish also available.

Going rate for catfish?

Shellfish, too.

Having wandered off to photograph the fish tanks, I caught a glimpse of this pile of...?

Luckily, a sign attached to the refrigerated case holding the Durian fruit identifies this prickly monster, also known as "Asia's King of Fruit." Also lucky for me? ScurvyGirl and Bea Dazzler were already there and thus able to warn me that durian fruit is insanely foul-smelling and that I should stay away.

ScurvyGirl checks her shopping list and rests her heavy basket.

After all we had seen, I'm not sure I want to know what's behind these doors.

You must know, dear readers, that I had been searching the aisles for anything fortune cookie-related, to no avail. I had inquired of one employee, but he directed me to aisle 3A, which holds an impressive variety of sauces (and which I had already visited). I'm not convinced he and I were speaking the same language- literally. As we were about to check out with our fantastic finds, Bea Dazzler asked the cashier where we could find fortune cookies. She had more success than I did. One option included these citrus flavored cookies, which I opted against.

I did, however, purchase one of these LARGE bags of fortune cookies (the one in the center, to be precise). Total cost of bag: $4.19. I haven't done the math, but that seems like a good price per cookie ratio to me.

As Bea Dazzler and I made our final dash in search of the fortune cookies, she spied this interesting specimen- also located in the dessert section of the market. Yes, that's right- THE DESSERT SECTION. According to the directions, you are to bake the fish and if there is any color remaining after you do so (i.e., if it's not completely translucent) you will have good luck in the coming year. You are to then eat it. 

What was the purpose behind all this fun and exploration? ScurvyGirl plans to make ramen - from scratch - this evening, and was in need of some very specific ingredients that we suspected might be found at MT Supermarket. For the most part we were successful, although ScurvyGirl picked up a package of leeks (at least they were labeled leeks and seemed like they could have at one point been leeks) that rang up as bitter melon- something else entirely. So we will see how that works out later. Bea Dazzler is making dumplings - yum! - and I am bringing...fortune cookies!


  1. Fun and scary! Hope your dinner is a yummy success!
    Oh, and my favorite part of this post... mani/pedis. :)

  2. the ramen was less than expected... may be a while before we try that one again. Fortunately I can report it was not due to the bitter melon since we did not use the 'world's most bitter vegetable' in any food capacity - though it did serve 'as an instigator of situations that promote conversations and community' (as promised on the web site).

  3. Bea Dazzler looks thrilled with her hat. Sorry I missed all the fun. :(

  4. Wow! What an adventure! In my 6 years living in Austin, I never made it to Austin's Chinatown. Thanks for the tour of this supermarket! Good seeing you Friday, even if it was just for a few!


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