New grocer stocks wide variety of Asian food
BY KYLE ARNOLD World Staff Writer
Thursday, September 03, 2009
One wide aisle at Tulsa’s newest grocer has dozens of styles of noodles, but it would be hard to find one string of spaghetti there.
But the store does have egg noodles and noodles of rice, vermicelli as well as flat noodles, wide and thin noodles, and ramen noodles — any kind of pasta needed in Asian cooking.
Asian Mart at 31st Street and 129th East Avenue opened in July with 23,000 square feet dedicated to a variety of Far East cuisine.
“We wanted to provide a service to all people, not just Asians, and share a little bit of the food from our cultures,” said Sarah Chang, owner and manager.
Another Asian market, Nam-Hai Oriental Food, lies one mile to the west at 31st Street and Garnett Road.
Chang said her business strategy is to use a clean layout, wide aisles and food styles from all over Asia to appeal to a wide range of people.
Asian Mart also has a deli with a small selection of hot dishes, as well as a fresh meat and seafood area.
A produce section focuses on popular Asian vegetables and fruit such as kohlrabi, bean sprouts and bok choy.
Chang has found that trying to bring in food from all over the world’s largest continent is difficult.
In addition to Chinese, Thai, Korean and Vietnamese items, she has found herself adding a larger variety of Filipino food to accommodate that ethnic group’s growing population in Tulsa, as well as more food associated with India.
Tulsa has a relatively small population of people who consider themselves Asian — about 1.5 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But Chang said the influence of authentic Asian cooking stretches far beyond those of Asian descent.
“We try to keep the store clean and bright so it will appeal to everybody,” she said. “It’s not like a little cluttered shop. We want to be as nice of a store as any other in Tulsa.”
In trying to appeal to a bigger customer base, Chang said she tries to order items in a variety of sizes, such as bottles of oyster sauce ranging from a few ounces to more than a gallon. She said the small bottles appeal to people who cook Asian food only occasionally.
One aisle of the store the store is dedicated to a few popular Asian dishes such as Pad Thai, where ingredients and recipes are placed together.