While it’s true that you can get hold of almost anything at Sanyuanli Market (without even mentioning Taobao), there is something to be said of going to a specialist store and having an expert help you find exactly the right ingredient. Luckily for choosy shoppers, there is a host of specialty stores scattered across the capital, offering everything from Japanese pickles to uncommon herbs. Read on for some of our favorites. 

Pulses and grains: Shucai Bianlidian
Tucked away near the Haiyuncang residential compound, this small local store (formerly called Dongbei Baoxian Zaliang Daquan) stocks a surprisingly Western array of dried grains and flours. The store’s location just south of Guijie makes it an excellent choice for hutong dwellers who don’t fancy the trip to Sanyuanli. 

Don’t leave without:
1. Lima beans (RMB 14 / 1.2kg)   2. Black beans (RMB 6 / 500g)   3. Buckwheat (RMB 5 / 450g)

19-2 Dongzhimen Nanxiaojie, Dongcheng District 

Spanish: Taste Spain
A mainstay of Spanish-themed Nali Patio, Taste Spain sells a vast array of preserved and fresh products to make all your Iberian dreams come true. Two side rooms off the main store stock hard-to-find Spanish wine varieties and Beijing’s best selection of jamón and manchego cheese, respectively. Look out for periodic wine tastings.

Don’t leave without:
1. LA Organic Original extra virgin olive oil (RMB 199)   2. 5J Jamón de Bellota (RMB 388)   3. Ortiz canned tuna in olive oil (RMB 55)

Daily 10am-10pm. 1/F, Nali Patio, Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang District (6413 2663)

Korean: Beijing Baisijia Caishichang
This hidden-away market in Wangjing is a mecca for all things Korean – all things food-related that is. Whether you’re looking to spice things up with a little chili paste, or get funky with some aged kimchi, this is the place to get it, along with popular Korean cuts of meat (think bulgogi), imported Korean condiments, and a wiggling array of fresh seafood. 

Don’t leave without:
1. Kimchi   2. Korean chilli flakes (milder than Chinese varieties)   3. Pork belly rolls (all market prices)

413 Wangjing Xiyuan, Futong Xidajie, Chaoyang District

Japanese: Yuqing
This tiny store in Maizidian packs a whole lot of produce into a very small space. The front of the shop is dedicated to seasonings, pickles, sake, and sauces, while the back holds chillers filled with everything from frozen udon noodles to sushi-grade tuna. We especially like their selection of fresh ramen noodles. They have a second store near Jianguomen.

Don’t leave without:
1. Fresh natto (RMB 13.6) 2. Mizkan sushi seasoning (RMB 38.8) 3. Instant miso soup sachets (RMB 19.8 / 6 sachets)

Daily 8.30am-10pm. East side of FX Hotel, 39 Maizidian Xijie, Chaoyang District (6500 0642)

Vegetables and herbs: 鲜森活2015 Taobao Store
Based out of Sanyuanli market, 鲜森活 sells a vast array of seasonal vegetables, herbs, and fresh spices, many of which are hard to find elsewhere around town. Their online store is divided into sections such as “fresh mushrooms,” “salad vegetables,” and “specialty vegetables.” Fans of homemade Thai cuisine will be especially at home here, with a wide selection of imported ingredients, including lime leaves, Thai basil, and lemongrass, to choose from.

Don’t leave without:
1. Parsnips (RMB 12 / 500g)   2. Shiso leaf (RMB 4 / box)   3. Artichokes (RMB 29 / 500g)


Photos: Joey Guo, Robynne Tindall

Visit the original source and full text: the Beijinger Blog