Bay Area Sources for Ingredients

This list below has my favorite places in the Bay Area that have hard to find ingredients or especially good quality. CUESA publishes charts showing what is in season in the Bay area, which is especially useful menu planning when shopping at farmer's markets and other stores which carry local produce.
  • General Purpose Markets
    • Farmer's markets: Find the ones that are closest to you and that work with your schedule.
    • Rainbow Grocery 1745 Folsom St San Francisco, Ca (Mission neighborhood): Rainbow Grocery's bulk spice section is my choice for general purpose and esoteric spices.  I also like the bulk section for pantry items like flour.
    • Golden Produce 172 Church St San Francisco, Ca (Duboce Triangle neighborhood): Great produce selection and great prices.
    • Falletti Foods 308 Broderick St San Francisco, Ca (Lower Haight neighborhood)
    • Bi-Rite 3639 18th St San Francisco, Ca (Mission neighborhood) and 550 Divisadero St San Francisco, Ca (NoPa neighborhood): Higher prices but they stock some great items such as frozen housemade puff pastry, frozen housemade chicken stock, and Hodo Soy Beanery Fresh yuba sheets.
    • Berkeley Bowl 2020 Oregon St Berkeley, Ca and 920 Heinz Ave Berkeley, Ca
  • Seafood
  • Meat
  • Chinese
    • Chinatown markets in San Francisco, Ca for things like dried shrimp and dried scallops.
    • Kingdom of Dumpling 1426 Noriega St San Francisco, CA (Outer Sunset neighborhood): For all sorts of handmade, recently-made frozen dumplings that you can cook at home (see here for pictures of the dumpling types). Note that they have two locations. The location on Noriega St sells frozen dumplings only; the other location is a restaurant.
  • Japanese
    • Super Mira Market 1790 Sutter St San Francisco, Ca (Japantown neighborhood): I like to buy all of my fresh ingredients (i.e. sushi fish, vegetables) from Super Mira Market. They have great quality sushi fish, nice produce, a nice Japanese deli, high quality organic or locally made versions of many Japanese products, and miscellaneous seasonal items (it is where I got my sake lees and fresh yuzu when it was in season).
    • Nijiya Market 1737 Post St San Francisco, Ca (Japantown neighborhood): For durable staples such as rice, nori, and rice vinegar (i.e. stuff that can be stored for a long time), I prefer Nijiya Market because they have a large selection and many of their products are imported from Japan. The store helpfully labels items; for instance my rice vinegar does not have "jun komezu" written in English on the bottle but Nijiya had the English name written on the product's shelf tag. I don't like their fish because it doesn't look fresh; the produce section is okay but not as good as Super Mira.
    • Soko Hardware 1698 Post St San Francisco, Ca (Japantown neighborhood): For Japanese cookware
  • Southeast Asian
    • Old Oakland Farmer's Market Fridays 10 am - 2 pm, 9th St between Broadway and Clay Oakland, Ca: This farmer's market has an amazing selection of Southeast Asian vegetables and sometimes the fish that are brought to the market are so fresh that they are still moving.
    • New May Wah Supermarket 707-719 Clement St San Francisco, Ca (Inner Richmond neighborhood): This is my favorite Southeast Asian market since they have a large selection and have lots of fresh southeast Asian produce (e.g. fresh pandan leaves which you store in your freeze have better quality than pre-frozen ones).
    • Duc Loi Supermarket 2200 Mission St San Francisco, Ca (Mission neighborhood): If I'm in the Mission neighborhood, I will go to Duc Loi Supermarket but New May Wah is better because it is bigger.
    • Tierra Vegetables 1 Ferry Building San Francisco, Ca (Embarcadero neighborhood) at the Ferry Building Saturday farmer's market: They sometimes sell cilantro plans with the roots still attached. Cilantro roots are used in Southeast Asian cooking and are one of the hardest ingredients for me to find. You can also grow your own cilantro for the roots, though I haven't done this yet.
    • Kasma Loha-unchit has a much larger list of Bay area Southeast Asian markets at http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/markets.html. The website's section on Thai ingredients is especially useful since it recommends high quality brands to look for.
    • This article on "Thai Grocery Shopping in Queens with Pok Pok Chef Andy Ricker" from SeriousEats.com has some useful pictures of Thai ingredients which may help you to identify ingredients if you are new to Southeast Asian cooking, although the stores mentioned in the article aren't located in the Bay area.
    • I see a lot of Southeast Asian ingredients in regular grocery stores around the Bay area. Lemongrass can be found at many stores, and I've seen Thai basil at Falletti FoodsGolden Produce, and several Asian or Southeast Asian stands at farmer's markets. I even saw fresh turmeric at Bi-Rite. Due to the large interest in gluten-free foods, I also see many types of flours (such as rice flour, tapioca flour) at many stores. Surprisingly, Safeway at 2020 Market St in San Francisco (Duboce Triangle neighborhood) appears to now be stocking Three Ladies brand Thai sticky rice. Golden Produce and Golden Natural Foods (located across from Safeway at 172 Church St and 130 Church St respectively) also have some Southeast Asian ingredients.
    • I bought my Thai mortar and pestle (size large) from TempleOfThai.com. It isn't Bay area so you have to pay for shipping, but I'm very happy with it.
    • Kun Wo Food. 2939 16th Street, San Francisco, Ca (Mission neighborhood): A fresh rice noodle factory that will sell noodles to walk in customers. Ring the buzzer at the front door (metal gate). No one greets you as you enter a dark entry way. The people inside are busy making noodles and speak limited English, but if you ask someone if you can buy noodles, they will ask how many pounds and whether you want them in sheets or cut into noodles. It is $1.00 per pound, and although they usually deal with large customers, they can sell just one pound. See Chowhound for more information.
  • Polynesian
    • Takahashi Market 221 S Claremont St San Mateo, Ca: A Hawaiian store which sells 'inamona (chopped toasted kukai nut) for making poke, and if you ask nicely they might sell you some fresh ogo/limu seaweed flown in from Hawaii. They also have frozen ogo/limu seaweed and frozen poi. They have a takeout counter which prepares wonderful Hawaiian plate lunches to go and prepared tuna poke (They sell their poke with the sauce on the side; I like to mix the sauce into the tuna and refrigerate it for 15 minutes before I eat it so that the tuna has time to absorb the sauce). The cheesecake (made from Okinawa purple sweet potatoes and haupia, a coconut pudding) and coconut mochi are also wonderful.
  • Korean
    • Hankook Supermarket 1092 E El Camino Real Sunnyvale, Ca: A Korean supermarket. They sell marinated Korean barbecue meats and banchan (small side dishes often served at Korean restaurants). We like to buy the marinated meats when we go camping (bring a cooler to store the meats in) and cook them in a cast iron pan over the campfire.
  • Indian
    • India Cash and Carry 1032 E El Camino Real Sunnyvale, Ca: I love going to India Cash and Carry in Sunnyvale for their Indian spices; sometimes how spices are labelled differ in different regions, so I prefer getting spices for Indian food from an Indian grocery store. The store gets a lot of traffic so their spices are very fresh; they come in large bags which are many times cheaper than those $8 spice bottles that fancy grocery stores sell. Indian dishes use a lot of spices, but there is a finite set of spices that the majority of Indian dishes use. If you spend about $60 (see here), then you will have enough spices to make most Indian dishes. A bonus about going to India Cash and Carry is that next door is Nirvanaah, an Indian ice cream store, where you can stop by to try Indian flavored ice cream and sundaes.
  • Italian
  • African
    • Brundo: Ethiopian spices and herbs. Also offers classes on Ethiopian cooking.

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