About a month ago, I was riding the metro with a colleague of mine who's new to the company and she asked me if we ever do a 5 à 7. For those of you unaccustomed to the term, this basically means that we get together after work between 5pm and 7pm and hang out and have some drinks. I told her we didn't really do that because everywone's on a tight schedule to catch a train or avoid the heavy traffic of the Décarie highway and the road to the south/north shore. Also, there's the fact that there are no fun bars around my job. None! They are all a bunch of run down dives with people playing video gambling machines like a bunch of leeches stuck to a flashy screen. So we never really hang out after work. I realized how much that sucked, so I decided to take it upon myself to find a nice place somewhere close where we can all get together. The best place to start looking was in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG for short) on Shebrooke street just west of Décarie. I found one single pub called Honey Martin that looked okay, but that was it. That pub though seems cool. They have live bands almost every night. Other than that, there was nothing particularly interesting to see there.
After walking all the way to Cavendish Boulevard, I turned back around and made headed back to my car which was parked near Décarie Boulevard. As I was making my way back, I walked in front of a large middle-eastern supermarket called Marché Akhavan located at the corner of the Grand Boulevard.
I was pretty happy with that discovery because I love middle-eastern foods. I went inside to take a look and the place was big! They had a great variety of all sorts of imported products. They also had a butcher section that sold fresh meats and a prepared food section with all sorts of warm dishes ready to eat. But, the best of all was the sweets section with all sorts of cookies, baklavas and other honey-nut covered goodies! I'll definitely be going back there from time to time to rack up on middle-eastern supplies like spices and rice and oils and mostly sweets!
I didn't take any pictures inside because there were a lot of people and I didn't want to bother anyone. Also, I walked out of that place empty handed because I had to walk quite a ways back to my car and I didn't want to carry anything since it was still pretty far away. Still walking on my way back, I had just gone one block down when suddenly...
Across the street I made the most incredible discovery I could have ever hoped for. I would never have thought that I had to go into this butt hole of a neighbourhood to find the most incredibly awesome thing. Something that I've been looking for for so long and that I thought this city was lacking entirely. As I stood there and looked at it I fell to my knees and raised my hands to the sky and cried HALLELUJA!!!!
People, this has got to be the greatest discovery I'll ever make while walking around this city and I will share it with you tonight. And that most awesome thing is....
A FUCKING JAPANESE-KOREAN GROCERY STORE!!!
Why is this so special? Because I could never find a single grocery store in this city that focused especially on Japanese and Korean products. There are TONS of Chinese supermarkets, especially in Chinatown. But, not Japanese. By the way the Koreans have always been pretty close to the Japanese and always seem to carry a lot of Japanese stuff, but anyway. FUCK YEAH!
I dashed across the boulevard, through traffic, dodging speeding cars and ran to the door to find the place still open! Luckyyyy! The place was tiny, but was chock full of cool Japanese stuff. I went all around the store and snapped some pics to show you what they got. Right next to the entrance, it was instant ramen galore!!! There was a good variety of instant noodles in that corner. Definitely had a good selection.
First thing I did though was to check out the drinks section which was right in front of the entrance. Check this out. Dragon Ball Z soft drinks!
And they had Pocari Sweat sports drink powder! You can't find that stuff anywhere here!
I found panko, or Japanese bread crumbs for making some tempura! Actually they had a whole section of that stuff.
They had another section dedicated to packaged instant noodles of all kinds as well.
In the back of the store there was a fridge with packaged vegetables and sauces of all kinds. There was also another refrigerator with all kinds of tofu and pickled stuff. You could get a large bag of pickled ginger, like in sushi restaurants, for super cheap.
In one of the sections I found packages of Japanese curry. I don't know if you ever had that kind of curry before, but it's fucking delicious! It tastes a little bit like Indian yellow curry but it's kind of sweet. It's amazing with chicken. I will probably get myself a package sometime and make some.
In the far side of the store was a section with chips, crackers, cookies and frozen treats. I wanted to buy one of everything I found there because it all looked weird and strange and exotic but tasty at the same time. There was a box of giant Pocky! I wonder if it's the cookie sticks that are giant or just the package? Imagine super huge Pockys as large as a pencil dipped in chocolate! Hell that sounds good!
The frozen section was quite interesting. There were all sorts of frozen desserts that were just ready to be cooked and served. For example. there were these red-beans filled steamed buns that all you have to do is steam them and you have a dessert! Another section contained thick udon noodles. There was also a large variety of fish products and sliced meats. The meats were mostly for bulgogi, which is a Korean dish. A large wall of freezers contained gyoza dumplings and even frozen packages of ramen! But, the best of all, and I've been searching all over the freakin' place for these, are the frozen narutomaki!!! Those are a kind of fish paste swirly thing they put in some ramen soups in Japan. It's impossible to find here and nobody knows what the hell they are. Well, I found some and now I know where to get them!!!
The steamed buns.
Dumplings a plenty!
There is a lot more stuff in that store, let me tell ya! But, the owner of the place was checking me out with a suspicious look and finally came to ask my why the hell I was taking pictures. I explained to him it was because I wasn't from this neighbourhood and that I wanted to remember what they had. So he said I didn't have to worry because they had a website! Ha! When I got home and checked it out, I realized it was all in Korean. Damnit!
Anyway, after spending so much time there, I couldn't help myself. I HAD to buy some stuff. So I geared myself up to make an ultimate instant ramen dinner of epic proportions. I got the bag of thin sliced Pork butt, not only because I thought it was hilarious, but also because it seemed all thinly sliced into small individual portions and thought it would be a great addition to instant ramen. I got a small container of sheets of sea-weed, like the one they wrap sushi in, a couple of sticks of narutomaki, a few bags of frozen ramen noodles, a pack of red-bean-filled steamed buns and some precooked gyoza pork dumplings. I was all set for that part. Additionally, I got myself a bottle of Ramune soft drink and Pocky cookies.
The Ramune soft drink is served in a messed up bottle. It's so complicated to open and even to drink your damn drink that it has to come with instructions! Here's a video that sort of explains what Ramune is and how it all works.
Tonight, I decided to take out all this great stuff that I bought and make myself that epic ramen dinner. And here's how it looked like in the end. I must say, I was quite proud of myself, but it could still be improved if I just marinated the pork first. I will follow up with a post on my cooking blog soon to show you how I made this.
In the meantime, I'm going to sleep now because it's pretty late and I have work tomorrow. Oyasuminasai!!!