Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Guest Blogger Zina Bennion visits Chaos Asian Market

I have been obsessed with the grain quinoa lately. So when I found a new recipe for Chinese Greens with Quinoa and Peanuts, I pretty much couldn’t sleep till I’d made it and tasted its deliciousness. However, making such a dish could prove difficult as it called for broccoli rabe, daikon, bok choy, and snow peas- produce that I may be able to find at my local grocery store, but would undoubtedly be expensive and of dubious quality. Sigh. Lucky for me a short 2 ½ blocks away from my house is the remarkable and wonderful Chaos Asian Market where I was fully confident I could find all these things at a much more reasonable cost and quality assured. So I rushed over and indeed every single thing I needed (and much more) was happily waiting for me. This has been my experience on many an occasion, and I love shopping at this great little store.

I first heard about Chao’s Asian Market when my friend told me you could buy a well stuffed bag of basil for a mere $1.25 or so. I couldn’t believe it and as I was on a pesto making kick I made my way down to their store (located 77 N University Ave). There I found not only the incredibly priced basil but a whole host of hard to find Asian produce, noodles, tofu, frozen sea animals, oils, spices, sauces, novelty treats, and more. I was delighted to find this treasure trove, and even more delighted with how low their prices were and how incredibly nice and friendly the owners and workers are.

Chaos has been here since 1974, when Mr. Chao first came to Provo to visit some friends. He was impressed with how clean, beautiful and nice it seemed and so he changed his plans to move to California (where much of his family resides) and opted for this newfound community. Over the years he and his lovely wife have raised two talented children and run this successful family business with the customer as their first priority, always treating people as friends not just customers. I asked Mrs. Chao (who now entirely runs the business) how they keep their prices so low and she said that they want it to be affordable always for their customers, and that they have never had money or business expansion as a goal. As a result they have multi-generational customers who are always loyal. Mrs. Chao commented that they now have young students come in to the store with their parents who used to shop there when they were in school. Many of their cliental are part of the Provo Asian population, and others served missions in, or have lived in Asian countries and crave authentic Chinese, Thai, Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean or other foods. Mr. Chao made it a point to learn basic conversational skills in most Asian languages so he could always greet his customers in a friendly and personable way.

I go to Chao’s to find standard items at bargain prices (three bunches of scallions for a dollar! A large bottle of sesame oil for four dollars!), hard to find ingredients, and to explore totally new and unknown tasty treats. Then there is their find collection of rice cookers, cookware, and even starts for hard to find vegetables like Japanese eggplant! So stop by, and be amazed by the wealth of culinary adventures and kind hearted service you’ll find!

Mrs. Chao and Zina at the checkout.

The tasty meal Zina made using ingredients from Chaos.


Stephen & Ali said...

Do you have Asian pears at your market? the "apple pears"?

Linda said...

You can find Asian Pears in Costco or Sam's Club. Chao's has it sometimes.