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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Barrio Chino

It's true that there are lots of items from home that you cannot find in Argentina - our unbelievably full luggage on the way back from the US can attest to that - but there is one place that seems to have more variety than anywhere else in Capital: China Town.

If you're looking for something, and you have exhausted all other options, venture on over to Barrio Chino - you may just find what you're looking for.

Barrio Chino is located in Belgrano, a little area that is (at the most) 4 blocks of stores, restaurants and kiosks.  Most of the grocery stores smell pretty foul.  Most of the kiosks have cheap toys and little knick-knacks that you don't really need.  All in all, pretty much what I think of when I imagine a China Town in the US.

I will say that the prices are far better than anything I've come across in my neighborhood, and the fish quality is regarded as the best in the city.  So, when I need to stock up on seafood, Barrio Chino is worth the trip.  My favorite shop is Casa China, ArribeƱos 2173, which is one of the few places that is open 7 days a week (most shops are closed on Monday).  They have remodeled within the last year or so, so the place is a bit more spacious and organized than before.  I prefer it because it is one of the cleaner markets that I have seen in China Town, especially the seafood department.  Don't get me wrong, it still smells weird and there are always flies in the summer months, but the preparations areas are clean and the staff is more or less friendly.

In the seafood department, if you're buying fish, you can purchase whole fish or have them filet the fish for you.  Salmon can be ordered with or without skin, the price goes up the "cleaner" you want the fish.

Here is the guy filleting my salmon order today:

 There are also lots of other seafood options to choose from as well, many of them are things I don't recognize.  If you are an adventurous chef who cooks mussels, whole squid, clams and snails, look no further than the seafood section...

Looking for feta cheese?  They've got it.  Soy milk (sweetened or unsweetened).  They've got it.  The only place I've been able to consistently find jalapeƱos - Casa China.

This has also been the sole source of our supply of soy sauce, coconut milk, rice noodles, rice vinegar, sesame seed oil, brown sugar (when I'm not making it myself), bags of uncooked frozen shrimp, lots of herbs and filo dough.  They also stock items you wouldn't expect in Asian food like salsa, peanut butter, cream cheese (used in most sushi here - so this is considered an Asian dish ingredient) and nuts, that are significantly cheaper to purchase in this area of town versus closer to home.

There are a few catches, most places are cash only, the is no delivery so you can only purchase what you can carry, and items are generally imported from Asia so you need to know what you're looking for - you may not recognize the label.  It's a great place to go for some key items, or just to peruse the aisles and see what goodies you can find.

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