When two Berlin foodie professionals told me they’d found it, the greatest Asian supermarket in Berlin, it was hard to keep my expectations and my emotions in check. I told the Wednesday Chef about it and she too was tickled; what if it had a wide range of products like the ones at the Dong Xuan Market, just more centrally located and less enveloped in pervasive plastic smells? And what if is was more spacious and clean compared to the Go Asia market on Kantstrasse?
Though hidden behind a small shopfront in the terra incogonita that is Moabit, an escalator quickly took us down to what we immediately had to admit was that culinary Shangri-La we’d been searching for: from a wall of hot sauces to grain-feed-sized bags of panko crumbs, this place had just about everything you could ever need to make your own Asian-inflected anything.
With the Chef herself on hand, I went to look for the crucial ingredients to make the tantalizing-looking recipe she posted for Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sichuanese chopped celery with beef (a bottle of the dark Chinkiang vinegar and a family-sized pot of Sichuan chili bean paste, the kind made from fermented fava beans and chilis that’s also used in Mapo tofu).
Now, don’t expect all the bottled condiments to be together (and don’t expect too much from the produce section), the aisles at Go Asia are loosely organized by cuisine, with one end for instance dedicated to products from Surinam or the Caribbean and the other to Indonesian essentials. Every turn with your overstufffed shopping basket takes you to a new and tastier corner of the world.
Of course they offer just about anything your local Asia Markt has on its shelves, only here there’s MORE of it; more kinds of tofu, gorgeously patterned bowls, an entire corner with different sugars, and let’s not even go into the instant noodle soup section. Wow.
It takes a few loops around the place to get your geographical bearings, but there’s delights to be found in just stumbling over strange new little jars or cans too though: Chinese fermented black beans with ginger, anyone? Or juicy pink shrimp made from tofu? Taiwanese apple soda? I bought it all.
No surprise that I made my way home with my camera bag and two big plastic bags overstuffed with stuff. Mostly hot sauce, yes, but also Indian curry paste and soft dark-brown sugar, Spanish lamb bouillon, and fresh soy milk (!). Even though I bought more than two hundred tea bags, I can already see myself itching to go back, and soon. Go Asia!