Jonathan Chan wants to help you explore Asian food.
That's why on Saturday, April 24, and Sunday, April 25, the Asian Food Markets supermarket (1011 Route 22 West, North Plainfield) will present "A Taste of Asia" - a Spring Asian Food Festival.
From 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on both days, nearly 20 vendors will offer free food samples throughout the store. (Contact the store at 908-668-8382. Find them on the web at www.AsianFoodMarkets.com.)
"Some people think Asian food starts with Chicken Chow Mein and ends with Beef Teriyaki," said Chan, president of the Asian Food Markets supermarket chain. "'A Taste of Asia' will give them a chance to experience some of the great variety of Asian cuisines."
"Unusual food can scare people," he explained. "They don't want to spend money on food they might not eat because they didn't like it. But at the food festival, they can sample items. If they don't like it, now they know. If they like an item, it will probably be on sale. This is our way of sharing traditional Asian tastes with our customers and attracting people who are unfamiliar with our food."
Items expected to be offered for sampling at tables around the store include: Soy milk, several kinds of fresh tofu from a local manufacturer, fried fish balls stuffed with roe, a yogurt drink, meat and vegetables dumplings (steamed and fried), instant noodles, Indian pancakes stuffed with peas or paneer cheese, Malaysian spring rolls, won ton soup, and several kinds of curry served with tofu. There will also be Japanese daifuku glutinous rice cakes filled with melon or red bean, Asian ice pops (in green tea, red bean, mango, strawberry, vanilla and black sesame flavors), okazi nori (seasoned seaweed) for wrapping rice, Philippine barbecue sauce prepared with pork or beef, and special Japanese unsweetened green ice tea. Also served will be sautéed white beech and oyster mushrooms, selected fruit and vegetables plus fresh cookies, Swiss roll cakes, authentic Asian buns and moon cakes made in the store's bakery.
"A Taste of Asia" is another effort by the Asian Food Markets supermarkets to reach beyond its traditional Asian customers. Earlier this year, the Piscataway store offered an Asian Food Fair and a Chinese New Year's Education Campaign. Nine posters explained culinary traditions and rituals of the New Year and Spring Festival, the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar. From long noodles, dumplings and red envelopes to fish, oranges and sticky cake, shoppers had the opportunity to learn about the celebration of the holiday.
The Asian Food Markets, founded in 1992, has full service supermarkets in Piscataway, North Plainfield, Middletown, Plainsboro, Cherry Hill and Staten Island. The chain is known for its wide selection of fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, live and fresh fish, fresh meat, fresh poultry, fresh baked goods and Asian specialty products from many regions of China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia and India. The stores also offer authentic fresh, hot Chinese dishes, ready for takeout.
"After nearly two decades of being a culinary home for the Asian communities, we have started to reach out to the community at large," Chan said. "Good prices are not enough. That's why we are offering education and a taste, 'A Taste of Asia.'"