Saturday, April 7, 2012

Chinatown near the turnpike

Live tilapia were going for only $3.68 a pound on Friday at Hong Kong Supermarket, but there was no information on the origin of the fish .

Don't look for Hong Kong Supermarket and a cluster of other Chinese-owned businesses in lower Manhattan's Chinatown.

Instead, the bustling market is in a small shopping center less than a mile from Exit 9 of the New Jersey Turnpike.

You can have your hair cut or styled; get a massage or acupuncture treatment for a sore elbow; and pick up sushi, a live fish and fresh greens for dinner.

A salon, left, and a massage center are outside the entrance to the supermarket. Nearby, a small sushi restaurant offers prepared items and table service.

I drove past the supermarket a few times on the way to another part of East Brunswick and finally stopped in Friday afternoon, joining other Good Friday shoppers.

Hong Kong Supermarket is bigger than New King Fung Supermarket in River Edge, but only marginally cleaner.

A large variety of Asian greens are packaged for shoppers.

First, I picked up five small avocados from Chile for $1.98.

Then, I stopped to look over fresh greens, selecting sugar pea shoots for $1.98 a pound (photo above) and small mustard greens for $1.29 a pound.

The price for live fish is the lowest I have ever seen, but the store's fish counter doesn't have the signs it is required to, telling shoppers two things: the origin of seafood and whether it is farmed or wild.

Shrimp come in all sizes.

I wouldn't buy live fish from China, which has a poor food-safety record. I've seen wild-caught tilapia on ice at H Mart, and would prefer them over their farmed cousins.

I made only two other purchases, a 22-ounce bottle of Kadoya Sesame Oil from Japan (on sale for $5.98) and a package of Brown Rice Vermicelli ($1.69).

When I got home, I prepared half of the vermicelli and mixed it with blanched sugar pea shoots, flavoring them with sesame oil, soy sauce and Sriracha hot sauce.

Barbecued ducks.

Hong Kong Supermarket is part of an East Coast chain based in Flushing, Queens.

Chicken feet for $1.28 a pound.
Dragon fruit.

Hong Kong Supermarket, 275 Route 18 south, East Brunswick; 1-732-651-8288.

Web site: Chinese shopping hub

Directions: After paying the toll at Exit 9 of the New Jersey Turnpike (New Brunswick), follow signs to Route 18 south. Shopping center will be on your right.

East Brunswick is about 40 miles south of Hackensack.

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