Shop for Lunar New Year at one of Edinburgh or Glasgow's oriental markets
Lunar New Year celebrations vary from culture to culture, though in China, they often involve a bounty of “lucky” or “prosperous” foods - dumplings, rice balls, spring rolls, sweets and whole fish, among other things. In Vietnam, there are savoury rice cakes (banh chung) and in South Korea, tteokguk (rice cake soup).
It’s certainly more exciting than a black bun and a lump of coal.
Starlight Chinese Supermarket, 25-29 Clerk Street, Edinburgh (0131 285 8021)
This place describes itself as a one-stop-shop for essential Asian food ingredients. They sell a wide range of goodies, from Japanese miso and mirin to Korean chilli paste, Chinese lao gan ma sauce, Thai tom yum ingredients and Indonesian kecap manis.
There are also fresh veggies like Chinese leaves, pak-choi, and white radish, as well as instant noodles, Little Moons ice-cream mochi, Hong Kong style pineapple buns and Japanese cheesecake.
Hing Sing Chinese Supermarket, 310 Leith Walk, Edinburgh (0131 554 4333)
You’ll find this long term Leith resident halfway down the walk. It’s smaller than Pat’s Chung Ying, which is on the other side of the street at 119-121 Leith Walk, but they’ve packed lots of essential ingredients into a small space. The freezers are choc full of gyoza and there is every jar of sauce you could wish for.
Matthew’s Foods, 36 Inglis Green Road, Edinburgh (0131 443 8686, www.matthewsfoods.co.uk)
There are also Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen branches of this supermarket and wholesaler. The Edinburgh branch is huge and features a paifang-like entrance that’s based on China’s Forbidden City. As well as tableware, they sell Korean kimchi, Szechuan pepper, a gazillion types of cooking sauce, Japanese miso and seaweed, fresh meat and every trimming you could want for a feast.
SeeWoo, 29 Saracen Street, Glasgow (0845 078 8818, www.seewooexpress.co.uk)
At 60,000 square feet, they say this is the largest supermarket in Scotland and it’s certainly no Tesco Metro. There are products from Malaysia, China, Vietnam, Thailand and Japan. They’ve also got a large Chinese New Year collection, with dried fruits, cookies and a rather groovy-looking brown sugar fish cake that resembles a koi carp. Shop online for delivery nationwide.
iMart Oriental Westend, 53 Crow Road, 1303 Argyle Street, and 217 Hope Street (07410 469898, www.aijia.uk)
This place has a huge snack selection, so even if you’re not going all-in with a huge meal, you can still gorge yourself on crisps in intriguing flavours like salted egg, or sour jujube cake (jujube is bright red, signifying prosperity, and is considered one of the lucky foods). They are currently offering free delivery in Glasgow if you spend over £40.
Lim’s, 63 Cambridge Street, Glasgow (0141 332 9399)
This colourful little family-owned shop has been at this spot since 1988. It sells a range of products, from Chinese to Malaysian, as well as Filipino, Korean, Thai and Japanese. One of their claims to fame is that a contestant from Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me bought her Thai ingredients here (sorry, we’re not sure if she won or not).
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