The Asian Food Markets invites you to explore the great varieties of Asian foods without leaving Central New Jersey.

On Saturday, June 12, and Sunday, June 13, the Asian Food Markets supermarket (660 Plainsboro Road, Plainsboro) will present "An Asian Food Adventure - a Festival Exploring Asian Cuisine."

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days, more than 20 vendors will offer free food samples throughout the store. (Contact the store at 609-799-1828. Find them on the web at www.AsianFoodMarkets.com.)

"Asian food is so much more than Chinese food from your local Chinese take out restaurant," said Tracey Chan, a senior administrator with the Asian Food Markets supermarket chain. "There are different varieties of food from all over China - from Shanghai and Beijing to Hunan and Szechuan and many more. And the foods from Korea, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and other Asian nations are all very different."

"'An Asian Food Adventure' will give people an opportunity to explore the different cuisines of Asia. The differences and variety are vast."

"A lot of people play it safe with food. They like what they like, and that's it," Chan explained. "But there are so many different cuisines with delicious tastes and textures. Many people don't want to risk spending their food dollars on something they might taste once and throw away. At this event, they can to take a taste without risk.

"This is a risk free opportunity to try something new," she said. "It can be a nice outing to try new foods with a friend. And if you like what you taste, it is on sale."

Items expected to be offered for sampling at tables around the store include: Steamed buns, soy milk, spring rolls, steamed meat and vegetable dumplings, instant noodles, sautéed organic white beech and oyster mushrooms, special Japanese unsweetened green tea, bubble tea, Korean barbeque (beef, pork and chicken), red bean cakes, tofu served several different ways, five spices bean curd, barbecue sauce from the Philippines, Japanese crackers, several kinds of dim sum, Japanese salad dressings, green tea ice cream, Chinese sausages, yogurt drinks, cold dishes from our kitchen, fresh items from our bakery plus Japanese mochi glutinous rice cakes filled with red bean, sesame and other flavors.

"An Asian Food Adventure" 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. This spring the North Plainfield and Cherry Hill stores presented a food festival.

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.

"For nearly 20 years, the Asian Food Markets have catered to the Asians who came to live in New Jersey and Staten Island," Chan said. "For them, our supermarkets were just a little bit of home. But in a 21st Century world flattened by technology, people from all over the world have been exposed to Asian foods. That's why we've started to reach out to the broader community. We're helping people explore Asian cuisine by sampling it."