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Bahay's Guide To Asian Food Shopping In Dublin

Over the past decade in particular, the Irish food scene has changed vastly for the better, and we're seeing more and more restaurants open without a Eurocentric approach to dining. While Chinese and other Asian restaurants have been popular since the early nineties, they haven't always been respected as places of fine or elevated dining, but many have been hanging their own duck, making their own condiments, butchering their own meat and truly cooking from scratch for decades. It's now the norm to see places like M&L, Lee's Charming Noodles, Lao, Pickle, 3 Leaves in Blackrock and many more identified as top dining experiences across the capital, and we were more than ready for the changing restaurant scene.


Richie Castillo and Alex O'Neill of Bahay


In my research for this piece, I spoke to Richie's Dad, Lito Castillo, on what it was like to get Asian ingredients when he first moved to Ireland from the Philippines 30 years ago. "Asia Market was the only place you could buy anything. The selection was very limited at the time, you couldn't get Indian, Thai or Filipino stuff, it was mostly just Chinese. There were so few immigrants here at the time. But now you can get everything you need." Lito was the first Filipino to work at The Mater Private Hospital, where he worked until 2019, and Ireland has changed hugely since he first starting walking the wards.


Bahay


We know diners have become more adventurous, and over lockdown when many of our favourite international spots were closed, people got braver with their home cooking. Asia Market on Drury street has been filled with Gen Z's picking up the latest product that's gone viral on TikTok, young professionals grabbing their Korean ramen packs, everyone buying dumplings, and I've noticed that my favourite fermented pickles, chilli oils, shrimp pastes and spiced vinegars are more frequently out of stock. While we love to see it, we want people to try more, so started doing Asian Market guides on Instagram, which have been getting 10-15k views apiece.



To help you eager and intrepid home chefs, we've put together a guide to our top Asian stores across Dublin, local businesses who are importing the best of Korea, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and of course, The Philippines. There are so many more we couldn't include in this particular feature, but keep an eye on our Instagram feed where we'll continue to post quick guides to the most popular places, and the lesser known ones. Special shoutout to Oriental Emporium on Abbey Street, which recently closed since being open since 1991! They continue to operate their shop in Rathmines, which we'll be sure to visit soon.



1) Pinoy Sari Sari, Mary Street


Pinoy Sari Sari is a gem. The owner is a warm and welcoming older lady from the Philippines, who has her family and friends working alongside her. This place is pretty small, but jam-packed, with every corner of the shop stacked with pretty much anything you could want for a Filipino feast. While the array of goods she imports directly from the Philippines can only be described as vast, she also makes space to include locally made products from Filipinos here in Ireland, with fresh baked pan de sal, pan de coco, siopao and hopia from Gold Ribbon Bakery on Dorset Street. Every Saturday she has freshly made chicharron, puffed and golden pork skins that are delivered fresh (sometimes still with residual heat), that are always snapped up within hours.



If you're feeling adventurous, and I mean really adventurous, they often have Balut, which I'll leave the reader to google themselves. They often have fresh, home-cooked ready meals if you want to try some classics from a Filipino kitchen, as well as locally made langonisa, which is a sweet smoked sausage (similar to chorizo in flavour) but it must be cooked as it's not cured. They have the best selection of savoury snacks, including Boybawang and Ding Dongs. Grab any packet you see and be ready for your new salty snack addition to take hold.



Bahay's shopping list: Calamansi (fresh or juice). Sauteed Bagoong. Datu Puti Soy and Sugar Cane Vinegar. Pinkaurat Vinegar. Chicharron. Ube (purple yam, used mainly in dessert and what gives Filipino sweets the incredible purple colour). Ding Dongs.







2) Asia Market, Drury Street & Ballymount


Founded in 1981 by Harrod and Helen Pau, Asia Market was the first of its kind to open in Ireland, and has grown and thrived in Drury Street the whole time. It is still very much a family-run business, and they've added a larger premises in Ballymount, as well as opening Duck restaurant on Fade Street. They source ingredients directly from producers in Asia - Hong Kong, China, Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines and more. They source a lot of their Asian vegetables from farms in Dublin, and import produce that can't be grown here directly. They also maintain a seasonal approach to many of their vegetables, which is great to see.



They have a fantastic relationship with many restaurants and chefs, and are hugely respected in the community. They have pretty much everything you could need here, and if they don't have it, let them know and they will try to get it for you. Their noodle section is huge, and they have every spice and paste your heart could desire. We love their drinks selection and they've an excellent range of kitchenware and utensils.



Bahay's shopping list: Fresh veggies and mushrooms. Golden Lion AAA Rice. UFC Banana Ketchup. TK NANG Crab Paste. Healthy Boy Light Soy. Pearl River Bridge Dark Soy. ABC Sweet Soy. Pretty much whatever Laoganma oil they have on the shelf. For a Friday treat - Tsingtao Beer.





3) Oriental Pantry Supermarket, Moore Street


Oriental Pantry is huge and has a wide variety of products from all over the world. Their Asian and Middle Eastern section is particularly impressive, but they have a great South American section too. When I want to buy chillis, ginger, turmeric, galangal, and lemongrass in bulk, as well as pretty much any Asian vegetable we need, this is the first stop shop. They also have a huge selection of pretty hard to come by root vegetables, from all across Asia. In my experience, this is the best place to get the likes of bitter gourd, taro root, giant daikon radishes, green papaya, fresh bamboo shoots, as well as fresh fruits like kaffir limes, lychee, Asian pears and dragonfruit - although you have to be careful with quality sometimes, so make sure you're picking produce that looks and feels fresh.



Like the rest of Moore Street, you'll find some brilliant characters in this place and sometimes you can feel a bit lost, but go in with a list and the staff will be happy to help. They also have a large fishmonger, but at times the aromas are not for the faint of heart. They've a brilliant frozen bread section, especially for Indian, Nepalese and Pakistani favourites; roti, stuffed paratha, kulcha, so many varieties of naan, chapati and more. If you see mooli paratha, get it! It's radish stuffed flatbread that's almost like a pastry. Delish with dahl.



Bahay's shopping list: Stuffed frozen paratha and stuffed kulcha. Chillies! Every single one you could imagine, they have them all. Fresh turmeric, fresh ginger and fresh galangal root (Thai root spice, closely related to ginger and turmeric. Loads of health benefits!) We always pick up plantain here, as well as whatever new hot sauce we see.




4) Han Sung Asian Market, Strand Street


Han Sung is one of my favourite spots for a couple of reasons. Its pretty small, but quality over quantity is something I always think about when I'm in here. The shelves and freezer are packed with Korean household favourites and they have one of the best Japanese sections here too. They have some really fun items, like every single flavour of snack you can imagine, as well as some crazy hot sauces. There's an extensive selection of ramen, as well as everything you could think of to jazz up your noodles. This is where you'll find the TikTok revered Kewpie Mayo, as well as huge bags of dried mushrooms and seaweed, every kind of sesame variety you could look for, and a great selection of frozen dumplings, wonton wrappers and cases. They have a huge variety of ferments, pastes and broth bases too.



The restaurant at the back of Han Sung is always so busy and filled with locals grabbing authentic Korean food. The food here is properly delicious, and the free miso soup you get with every meal is rich and full of flavour. I love ordering the Japchae here, and all of their Jjigae broths are incredible, especially the kimchi jjigae and yukgaejang. If you've room for dessert, try the pistachio cheesecake, its divine!



Bahay's shopping list: Nongshim Shin Ramyun. Indomie Mi Goreng noodles. Samyang Noodles (SO SPICY!). Samyang hot sauce (INSANELY SPICY!). Housemade kimchi. Miso paste. Sesame paste. Yopokki. Doenjang paste ( a little bit like a Korean version of Miso, fermented soybean paste with a brilliant umami flavour).




5) Super Asia Foods, Capel Street


This is a jewel in the shining crown of Capel Street. No, really! Super Asia Foods is the home of White Rabbit Korean Fried Chicken, a favourite amongst lunch-goers, students, office workers and foodies alike. They have a lovely bubble tea shop at the front entrance, and the place is always full of a real mix of people. The shop itself can be a bit cluttered, and may not always have everything in stock, but it has a great variety of condiments, sauces and pantry staples like oils and pickles.



They have one of the best Laoganma chilli oil selections in the city, and always have a great mix of authentic Thai, Chinese, Filipino, Malaysian and Japanese cooking staples. Their fridge section has a brilliant selection of sweet drinks, and we love to pick up cans of thick, rich mango juice, fresh coconut water and they sometimes even have cans of calamansi juice. They have a great dried ramen section and a large variety of sweets and snacks.



Bahay's shopping list: Aloe King drinks. Pickled enoki mushrooms. Pickled Szechuan peppers. Frozen dumplings. Frozen bao buns. Pancit canton noodles. Boba bubble tea.




Also worth a visit:


Golden Beach Supermarket, Parnell Street


Golden Beach is a large, 24-hour Chinese supermarket that stocks a wide array of Chinese products and items. They also have authentic Chinese BBQ for takeaway, and while we haven't tried it yet, it looks legit and always has a queue. They've a great tea section, and I pick up dried mushrooms here a lot - Lion's mane, reishi, chaga - which are all superfoods and delicious in broths, ramen and stews.




Halal, Clanbrassil Street


For middle eastern groceries, we love going to Halal on Clanbrassil Street. This spot is wonderful, it has a great butcher and often has fresh middle eastern breads. The staff are brilliant and are part of the community of the area. They've a massive spice section, a freezer section stocked to the brim with samosas, stuffed parathas, delicious breads and vegetable sides, and they have every kind of eastern tea you could think of. Try the cardamom, it's like a fragrant black tea and is delicious with milk and honey.




Shop Easi, Clanbrassil Street


Also on Clanbrassil Street (working at Bastible and Clanbrassil House will get you very familiar with the area!) we love to drop into Shop Easi. They have a great selection of Asian grocery staples, as well as a lovely range of incense and candles. We love their sweet treat section and drinks selection, and they've a load of spices and dried goods here too. Don't miss the stacks of Indian mangoes when they're in season. You'll want to buy them by the box.



Bahay is a Filipino pop up run by Richie Castillo and Alex O'Neill - read our once over here. From Wednesday 27th April they're collaborating with Happy Endings on a 'Filly Bistek' sandwich for a month - a Filipino take on the Philly cheesesteak, with beef cured in soy, calamansi and black pepper, onions and Coolea cheese sauce. They're also popping up at Hen's Teeth in Dublin 8 on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th May, with a menu of small plate street food and cocktails. We'll bring you more details on that when we get it.