Wade on Birmingham

Birmingham’s Best Eats: The beginner’s guide to Birmingham-area Asian grocery stores


Asian groceries

Stock your pantry with the right ingredients by
exploring the Asian markets across Birmingham.
Photo by Jen Barnett.

By Jen Barnett

The Birmingham grocery-scape has become increasingly dotted with Asian, Latin and other ethnic markets. Foreign by nature for many of us, they can seem especially intimidating if you’re accustomed to today’s massive chain supermarkets, where products are mostly familiar and layouts are homogeneously streamlined to move you from buggies to produce to meat.

Birmingham's Best EatsWhy would you need to visit an Asian market anyway? After all, Publix has rice noodles and coconut milk.

But it carries only one brand of coconut milk, one kind of rice noodle. It’s like buying groceries at the gas station.

Plus, the convenience-store selection also carries convenience-store prices. Shopping at the Asian market can save you 20 percent or more on ingredients such as sticky rice, seaweed wraps and fish sauce.

(One caveat to newbies: Some markets have a unique fishy smell you might not be used to. Tolerable, maybe, but not always conducive to browsing.)

Asian recipes are often quick and easy, especially if you have ingredients on hand. We visited several Asian grocery stores across town and compiled this list of favorite markets to get you started.

Asian Super Market

  • 3065 Lorna Road, Ste. D, Hoover [map]
  • (205) 822-0140
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday
  • Note: Very friendly owner who will answer any questions.

Super Oriental Market

  • 243 West Valley Ave., Homewood [map]
  • (205) 945-9558
  • Superorientalmarket.com
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday and 10 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
  • Note: Huge store with food plus gifts, cookware, appliances and the Red Pearl Restaurant.

Chai’s Oriental Food Store

  • 2133 Seventh Ave. S., Southside [map]
  • (205) 324-4873
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1-6 p.m. Sunday
  • Note: Nice people in a small shop next to Thai House, which is also recommended.

Asian Food Market

  • 22 Green Springs Highway, Homewood [map]
  • (205) 941-1009
  • Hours: 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 1-7 p.m. Sunday
  • Note: Small Korean restaurant next door with affordable prices and friendly owners.

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Jen BarnettJen Barnett is the managing editor of VisitSouth.com, a travel hub with tips on where to stay, what to do and where to eat in the South. Her favorite dish in Birmingham is her mom’s fresh veggie plate, but she didn’t bring enough for everyone, so she won’t mention it again.

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Hungry for more? Check out the menu of Birmingham’s Best Eats!

6 Yips for “Birmingham’s Best Eats: The beginner’s guide to Birmingham-area Asian grocery stores”

  1. steph
    Friday, August 27, 2010, 9:29 am

    Thanks for this – I think most folks miss out on the greatness that is Chai’s grocery… I have been going there for years and it has recently (over the last year or so) made some improvements. One additional item of interest: many of these groceries now have Indian foodstuff as well, and unique snacks from all over Asia. And besides being a good place to get your Asian food supplies, it’s also a great learning/cultural experience for kids and adults who generally are exposed only to the mainstream American groceries and snacks. Note: Chai’s can be crowded on Fridays – I don’t know if this is when the produce comes in, or when many people just choose to do their shopping, but it can get crowded in such a small store.

  2. Jen Barnett
    Friday, August 27, 2010, 10:30 am

    Thanks Steph–that’s a great point about Indian ingredients!

  3. claudia
    Saturday, October 18, 2014, 6:13 am

    Do you carry coffee with ginseng? I have recently tasted in Italy and will be returning to Bham soon. I’m bringing a supply for a few days but would like to continue drinking it. It is rather cheap here. 2,59 euros for 20 packages
    I would greatly apprecciate your response.
    Best regards

  4. Wade Kwon
    Saturday, October 18, 2014, 2:39 pm

    Yes. Yes we do.

  5. Leslie
    Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 3:15 pm

    Thank you so much for this!!!! My husband and I just relocated from Chicago and I’ve been missing my Asian grocery store!!!!!

  6. Wade Kwon
    Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 8:57 pm

    You’re welcome — let me know if you have any questions.

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