My local sources for Asian ingredients

I’ve had a few questions about where I buy the odder ingredients I cook with, like mirin (Japanese sweet cooking sake), or kombu kelp, or even dried shiitake mushrooms.

I have a habit of wandering into Asian groceries and happily browsing for large chunks of time, but most of the ingredients I use that aren’t at my local supermarket (or in the fortnightly feedbag) come from two places, both of them in the Sydney CBD.

The first one is a lovely little Japanese grocery store hidden behind Woolworths at town hall. It’s called Conveni8, and it’s located an arcade on Pitt St at Town Hall, just down from Park Street.

They stock just about every Japanese food ingredient you can think of, and a wide range of Japanese sweets (including my favourite chocolate bar ‘Crunky’, and green tea & cherry blossom KitKats).

Anything I don’t get from Conveni8 usually comes from Thai Kee supermarket in Chinatown’s Market City shopping centre. This place has a fabulous range of ingredients from Chinese cuisine, Japanese, Thai, Malaysian, Korean – you name it. They also have a well-stocked freezer section full of tasty dumplings, and a good kitchen implement section (as well as some of the largest mortars & pestles I’ve ever seen).

They even have an impressive range of vegetarian ingredients, from vegetarian fish maw to two different kinds of vegetarian shark’s fin. There’s some vegetarian pork floss sitting in my cupboard at the moment from Thai Kee, which I haven’t yet had the courage to sample. (If you do go there for vegetarian foodstuffs, make sure you check out the freezer section as well as the general food isles – they have two full freezer cabinets jammed full of vegetarian tasties.)

Where do you go for the stuff you don’t find in your local supermarket? Share it with us all!