From Lebanese to Russian, Time Out rolls up its sleeves and checks out a few of the city’s speciality food shops
Wafi Gourmet: An upscale deli with an Arabian twist, Wafi Gourmet sells the best of Lebanese cuisine, to go. There’s a huge selection of cold mezze, well exceeding anything you’d find in your local Lebanese haunt. If you fancy a picnic or want to create your own Lebanese banquet, you can select from a variety of foul, hummous, mousakaa, or more obscure items like modardara and hindbeh. There’s also a delicious selection of hot, oozing saj (stuffed bread) for those in the mood for something warm. Wafi Gourmet also has a stellar selection of Arabic sweets. If you’re a novice, and don’t know what to get, just point at random. We’ve done it, and have never been disappointed. Finally, Wafi is a good stop for exotic spices from the region. Various locations including Wafi (04 324 4433).
Dean’s Fujiya Supermarket: Even Japanese food aficionados will find plenty to expand their palates at this specialist Japanese supermarket. Aside from an entire shelf of obscure Japanese condiments (pickled lotus root, anyone?) – and more noodles than you can shake a chopstick at – there’s also a section dedicated to Japanese homeware (sushi plates, bamboo steamers, soy sauce bowls... that kind of thing). Plus, there are freezers full of imported fish and, our personal favourite, mochi. To the uninitiated, mochi is a glutinous rice cake that makes for a popular snack in Japan, especially when wrapped around balls of ice cream. We recommend picking these up by the dozen – trust us, every flavour’s a winner, even if you can’t decipher exactly quite what it is. Near Lamcy Plaza (04 337 0503).
Lucky Mini Store: Though tricky to navigate for non-Slavic speakers (pretty much everything is in Cyrillic and the staff often have limited English skills), this miniature, but well-stocked supermarket has everything a Rusophile could ask for. In addition to a rack of Russian magazines and CDs, there’s diminutive Russian chocolates, frozen blini (or Russian pancakes), Russian honey, and rows and rows of pickles, jams, cheese and other condiments from the former USSR. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Russian supermarket if it wasn’t well stocked in caviar. Well worth a visit. Al Bakhit Centre, Deira (04 297 1118).
Korean 1004 Mart: In addition to stocking an extensive collection of Korean fare (consider your kimchi cravings sorted), 1004 Mart also carries a range of Japanese products. Barsha (04 323 4536). Thai Sunflower: Rumour has it that Wednesdays are the best time to hit this Thai supermarket, as that’s when they replenish their stock. Karama, near Baitong (04 396 4611).
Chinese Longxin Food Co: There’s a tiny Chinese grocer in Dragon Mart (perhaps unsurprisingly). While it doesn’t carry fresh produce, it’s a good place to source Chinese biscuits, thousand year eggs and sheets of nori. Section F, Shop FAL04, Dragon Mart, International City (04 428 5665).