How to shop like a chef in Atlanta: 5 stores for unique goods

Where to find Korean tea, fresh greens, and real-deal cannoli
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Photograph by Greg Dupree, styling by James Herrin

 

Illustration by Liz Noftle
Illustration by Liz Noftle

H Mart Duluth
2550 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth
Specialty Korean groceries and tea
Open since 2004
This supermarket chain is the top shopping destination for Korean Americans across the country. Five outposts serve metro Atlanta, but Koreans are loyal to the original and biggest location in Duluth, where you’ll find buckets of kimchi and 15-pound sacks of rice. Cody Taylor and Jiyeon Lee, owners of Sobban and Heirloom Market BBQ, prize the wide selection of Korean tea, which they favor over Japanese or Chinese tea. “Serious tea drinkers are sensitive to the subtleties,” Taylor says.
What to buy
1. Wei-Chuan Jasmine Tea Mix with regular sweet tea for a floral twist on the Southern classic.
2. Honey Citron Tea Stir a spoonful into hot water for tea, or combine with brown sugar to glaze carrots.
3. Finishing oils Vendor Mom’s Love presses oils on-site using imported grains. The depth of flavor is remarkable: smoky, meaty, nutty, citrusy.

Illustration by Liz Noftle
Illustration by Liz Noftle

Great Wall Supermarket
2300 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth
Specialty Chinese produce
Open since 2010
From the large box of spiky green jackfruits positioned by the front door to the red lanterns dangling from the ceiling, this store is long on exotic ambience. Among aisles of frozen dumplings and packaged noodles, chef Yiquan Gu of Gu’s Bistro heads straight for the produce to sift through a vibrant field of Chinese greens. Bok choy, Shanghai choy sum, baby yu choy—the market sells approximately 25 varieties to cater to Duluth’s large Chinese population.
What to buy
4. Pea Leaves Stir-fry in a wok with garlic. The greens, Gu says, are fresher and less bitter than those sold at other markets.
5. Sichuan Peppercorns Found in chili oil, peppercorns impart the tongue-numbing sensation common in Sichuan dishes.
6. Green Day Dried Chile Peppers Saute these spice bombs until they blister to flavor your oil.

Illustration by Liz Noftle
Illustration by Liz Noftle

E. 48th Street Market
2462 Jett Ferry Road, Dunwoody
Specialty Italian goods
Open since 1986
Crammed into a square in a Dunwoody shopping center is Charlie Augello’s Italian market, which he and his wife, Anita, opened nearly three decades ago. Lunchtime regulars swoop in for the deli, but you can also find Italian cheeses and a wall lined with Barolo and wines from Giuseppe Quintarelli. “Twenty years ago, you couldn’t find these specialty products [in Atlanta except here],” says Christian Favalli, whose family opened La Grotta in Buckhead.
What to buy
7. Mostarda Sperlari Candied fruit Favalli uses for pumpkin-stuffed ravioli.
8. Sapori Panforte Margherita This almond cake with candied fruit is essentially an Italian fruitcake. Warm in the oven and serve with dessert wine.
9. Cannoli Piped to order with impastata ricotta, a smoother, creamier type of ricotta, says Favalli.
10. Forno Bonomi Amaretti Cookies Crumble in a tiramisu for layers or sprinkle over Georgia peaches marinated in Grand Marnier.

Illustration by Liz Noftle
Illustration by Liz Noftle

City Farmers Market
3307 Buford Highway
Specialty Latin American groceries
Open since 2005
Hector Santiago, the chef behind the long-missed Super Pan, describes this fluorescent-lit store as the “Latino version” of the Buford Highway Farmers Market. It’s one of the few spots where Atlantans can find herbs like verdolaga (purslane) and pipicha (similar to cilantro but more intensely flavored). Don’t mind the mess in certain aisles; in the past year, new management has taken over and has slowly been renovating.
What to buy
11. Marca El Pato Salsa de Chile Fresco These canned tomatoes are seasoned with chiles, onions, cilantro, and garlic—a perfect base for a zippy spaghetti sauce.
12. Aji Cachucha Peppers Try these mild, tropical peppers in sofrito, or fry them in oil until they blister, then sprinkle with salt.
13. Chile Chipotle Meco Santiago soaks these dried, fiery peppers in water before adding to stews or salsas.

Illustration by Liz Noftle
Illustration by Liz Noftle

Patel Brothers
1709 Church Street, Decatur
Specialty Indian spices, Asian produce
Open since 2009
With more than 50 locations nationwide, this Chicago-based chain has been selling basmati rice by the truckload since 1974. The store’s shelves are stocked with an estimated 38 kinds of lentils, 20 types of flour, and countless rows of packaged spices; last year Patel doubled in size to carry more produce. Archna Becker, owner and chef of Bhojanic, has been a customer since the Decatur store opened. “Their prices are so good,” she says. “They’ve put a lot of [other Indian grocers] out of business.”
What to buy
14. Amul Pasteurised Butter Spread this full-fat butter made with buffalo and cow’s milk on toast or cucumber-mint sandwiches.
15. Nirav Extra Hot Pickles These sharp, pungent pickles are typically added to platters of food as a relish.
16. Indian Eggplants Becker stuffs these round, palm-sized eggplants with spices like cumin and coriander, then tosses them on the grill.

This article originally appeared in our April 2015 issue.

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