888 International Market

For those of us living near the Plaza, 888 International Market is a hike. It’s located near Antioch and 119th St. in Overland Park.  But think of it as an adventure, a trip to Asia if you will, that costs less than a tank of gas as opposed to a very expensive plane ticket.

International? Not so much. Yes, you can find hummus and a few other Mediterranean items, along with some tortillas and salsa, but this former Hy-Vee is essentially an Oriental Market. It has a huge selection of Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Korean specialities. While it’s not difficult to find many of the jars in other Asian markets around the metro, what makes this grocery stand out is its emphasis on fresh. Fresh vegetables, fresh tofu, fresh noodles, fresh meats, fresh fish, fresh lobster and crab.There’s even homemade Korean kimchi.

But there’s also shrimp paste, every brand of soy, fish and hoisin sauces, palm sugar, lemongrass (fresh and in bottles),  Togarashi (an essential Japanese spice in David Chang’s Momufuku brussels sprouts), dried soba and udon noodles, pickled ginger and every other Asian ingredient you’ll ever see in a recipe.

If you want to make a seafood soup with Korean chile paste, they’ve got you covered, right down to ceramic bowls to serve it in.

Allow at least 30-45 minutes to check out the store so you have time to walk up and down each aisle. If you’re smart (like I wasn’t), you’ll go armed with a recipe or two that you’ve wanted to try but haven’t for lack of the proper ingredients. I had to wing it, but managed to gather noodles, tofu, vegetables and sauce components for a very delicious pad Thai.

If you’re hungry after all that browsing, there’s a restaurant within the store to enjoy dumplings, soup and noodles.

Did I mention it’s cheap? This bears no resemblance to a Whole Foods. The prices are extremely reasonable, so you can stock up now and decide later what to concoct with everything you bought.

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