September 24, 2010

Where to Shop for Groceries in Vancouver

I use a lot of spices and sometimes specialty ingredients in my cooking, and this is because I like to try and stay as authentic as possible in the resulting taste of the dish.I also believe that it is essential to have the best possible produce to start off with because there is no way that a dish can turn out as delicious if you start off with bad quality ingredients. It’s best to search for fruits and vegetables in season, or at least find places where you can shop according to budget.

My mom is an adventurous shopper and she likes to shop at the source of her ingredients. She goes to the source for fresh tofu, the maker and distributer for hot fresh fish cakes (see See Shopping for Groceries Part 2 for where that is), straight to fish mongers for fresh fish, rice world for bulk rice, and sometimes she goes all the way out to the farm to pick her own strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. She even climbs to the top of mountains to get wild blueberries. She swears that they are a thousand times better than farmed blueberries, and I normally just smile and nod with a mouth full of berries, as I like them either way. (They really are sweeter and tangier though. I won’t tell you where she finds these wild blueberries for fear that you’ll pick them all before she does)

Places to shop:
1595 Kingsway Street, Vancouver (@ Perry between Commercial and Knight)

I go here for all my specialty flours as they have them all. Rye, spelt, kamut, chickpea, whole wheat, semolina, anything! They have ground flax seeds, beans, spices, herbs, pasta, snacks, sesame seeds, anything you could possibly think of that’s a grain or a milled flour, they have it. I think that they’re the cheapest place you can find them as everything is so expensive if you try to find them anywhere else such as health food stores. They have pure vanilla, hemp seeds, coconut flakes, organic cereal, any health food item! Famous Foods is so cheap because they buy everything in mass quantities and they divide it up into bags for you. They also have organic free range meat and chicken.  Even wild boar!

See Shopping for Groceries Part 2 for more pictures
2279 Commercial Drive (at Grandview Hwy)
2342 Hastings Street East ( at Nanaimo)

This market is guaranteed to be busy with locals at the after work rush as this place has everything you could possibly need for dinner. Although, things aren’t at all cheaper per se, you can be sure to get everything that you need here. They have over 30 types of bread, specialty artisan bread and pastries, gluten free breads, organic fruit and vegetables, smoked tofu, wild rice, bulk nuts, grains and beans, an excellent selection of cheeses, great dairy section, and really, if you can’t find it here, I don’t think you’re having something edible for dinner.

Dollar Grocers Limited
221o Commercial Drive (across the street from Donald’s)

It’s a little cramped and a little chaotic in the store, but everything is cheaper and they have a great bulk spice section. Spices that I had a hard time finding in several other grocery stores, they had in this place. Fenugreek seeds, dried whole chilli, black mustard seeds, ground coriander, cardamom pods, ajwain seeds, garam masala, they had different types of lentils and so many different beans too! I don’t recommend getting groceries from here, because it’s not always the best quality, but their halva was fresh and delicious, they have great condiments like bon maman jam for 2-3 dollars less than everywhere else! They have Avalon organic milk in glass bottles, organic cereal and free range eggs. Everything is basically cheaper than you will find it elsewhere. Awesome grocery store.
Sunrise Markets
300 Powell Street (at Gore Ave.)

See Shopping for Groceries Part 2 for more pictures

Sunrise Markets is where Sunrise Tofu started! They started making tofu at the back of this grocery store, and now they have grown rapidly and distributing all over Canada. Have have added Soyganic to their products as well as ready to eat tofu such as Pete’s Tofu. These are all non-GMO soya products, and fresh as can be! Yeah, this market is in in the East Side, but honestly, this is one of the cheapest places to get fresh produce, the freshest tofu available, and Chinese groceries.

They also have a butcher at the back (hold your breath or breathe through your mouth). I don’t really like getting meat from here because of the grotesque nature of the display, but this is the cheapest place you can get meat, fish and seafood. I like to come here for thinly sliced frozen meats for hotpot, fresh silken tofu, soya milk, bean curd, bok choy, black beans, bean sprouts, Chinese eggplant, organic bananas, and mandarin oranges. There is a wealth of other products available too like Chinese sausage, sweets, and fruits.
Rice World
126 Gore Avenue (across the street from Sunrise Markets)

See Shopping for Groceries Part 2 for pictures of the menu board and what it looks like inside.

So there’s definitely a procedure to getting rice at Rice World. I have seen it done by my mother since I was too little to understand what was going on. They always assume my mother is Chinese so they end up yelling at each other, one person in Chinese, the other in broken English until they finally get what each other wants. There is a menu board much like in any deli, but full of different type of rice brands with the cost next to it. From what I remember, you have to approach the ordering window underneath the menu board and communicate what type of rice and in what quantity you would like. (yelling match ensues) Once they understand what you would like, they write it on a slip of paper and you can carry on shopping until you check out at the check out counter. They ring you in, you pay for it and you can pick it up with the same slip with the delivery guys at the side of the building, where they cart over a bag of rice to your car.

The rice here is probably half the price that you would normally pay for rice elsewhere, they have really good quality rice ranging from long grain, short grain, jasmine rice, basmati rice and very short grain fancy rice, calrose, brown… the list goes on and on. They also have a huge collection of dried foods, packaged snacks, and Chinese sauces. Oyster sauce, Sriracha hot sauce, garlic red pepper sauce, black bean, hoisin, fish sauce and more. They have dried noodles in very variety and you can get slippers from there too! It’s kind of a random selection of stuff they have, but it’s always a fun adventure every time.

Sea World Fisheries Ltd.
1708 Pandora Street. (by Commercial and Powell)
I haven’t been here in a while, but this is the warehouse where you can brave with your breath held as it smells like fish in there! You can get fresh fish, frozen fish, crab, clams, mussels, lobster, any fish, ocean creature you want for one heck of a good price! I think they mostly do distribution to restaurants and such, but it’s really cheap if you just waltz right in and request to buy some.

All India Foods
6517 Main Street (at 49th)

Punjab Food Center
6635 Main Street (at 50th)
The place to go for all your Indian grocery needs. Has spices, ghee, mango juice, paneer, vegetables, beans, lentils, rice, spinach, chickpea flour, mint, pepper, saffron, anything you would need! Located in Vancouver’s Little India, so you’ll be able to find everything you need including bangles, sari’s and papadum’s. Go to All India Sweets Restaurant which is right by it for all you can eat lunch, or take out a dozen samosas! mmmm….

La Grotta Del Fromaggio
1791 Commercial Drive (at 2nd avenue)

They have great cured meats, and awesome cheeses. Turkey breast, salami, capicollo, prosciutto, calabrese, mortadella, pancetta, and more! What they’re famous for is their sandwich bar where they serve it up on a huge focaccia with freshly sliced meat, cheese and piled high with vegetables and then they grill it to perfection. Artichoke hearts, olives, various different kinds of havarti, a wall dedicated to olive oil, grilled peppers, eggplant… Best Italian Grocery/Deli in town.

Persia Food Products
118- 15th street, (at Lonsdale) North Vancouver

Best bulk nuts ever! Really cheap and they also have organic apricots that are soft and sweet and delicious! They have fresh dates in season, figs, pomegranate molasses, fresh herbs, dried spices, basmati rice in every variety even brown basmati!, canned domathes, pickled grapevine leaves, persian naan, almond cookies, dried fenugreek leaves, saffron, good quality yogurt, spicy pickles, anything persian they got it. I’m loving this store right now, because I have been making fesenjoon and gormeh sabzi at home, and this is the place to go for those ingredients!

H mart (Hanahreum)
590 Robson Street, Vancouver (at Seymour)
205-329 North Road, Burnaby

Han-nam Market
106-4501 North Road

Probably the best Korean grocery store with fresh produce flown in from Korea as they prize the Korean Asian Pear and Persimmons, they sell Kimchi, ready made pickled spicy sesame leaves, pickled fresh octopus, they have fresh mackerel, thinly sliced beef for bulgogi, pork belly in every cut imaginable, korean candies and snacks, they even sell rice cookers, red pepper paste, apple vinegar, tonkatsu sauce, … really all there is to buy, you can get it there. So convenient and efficient, just like Koreans. H mart and Han-nam are basically the same, but strangely enough the two huge big box korean stores are located across the street from one another in Burnaby. They try to compete by setting lower prices than one another, so watch for some great deals! We got 4 boxes of Melona ice cream for 20 bucks! yeaaaaah!

El Sureno (Latin & Indian Fusion Grocery)
1730 Commercial Drive (at 1st ave)
Corn Tortillas, pastry for Empanadas, curry leaves, paneer, spices, dulche de leche… :)


  1. Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u

    Meat Seafood Disply

  2. Glad I came across your blog. I'm going to have to go shopping at a few of these places.

  3. Thanks Kayeon! I've been to a few of these places already as I'm gearing up to try the Bulletproof Executive diet.

  4. Delightsofindia right place to buy Indian snacks, send sweets to India and buy handicrafts online etc…
    buy Indian snacks