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Hing Long Oriental Food Market and Vinh Hung
Hing Long Oriental Food Market
4644 El Cajon Boulevard, City Heights
619-280-2132 or 619-563-9986
Vinh Hung
4690 El Cajon Boulevard,
City Heights

For some San Diegans who enjoy cooking Asian specialties, Convoy Street in Kearny Mesa is a long, hard journey just to buy a little Shao Hsing or galanga. But the two Asian markets within one block of each other in City Heights are a quick, freeway-optional trip from center city neighborhoods. Neither market is huge, but both are well stocked, and together they cover the waterfront (of the South China Sea). Hing Long deals primarily in Chinese imports such as rice wine in many brands, the distinctively nutty Lion and Globe peanut oil, and a good array of bottled condiments, including fermented bean curd and bean sauces. The meat-poultry-fish counter has both a live tank for fish and kosher-for-Buddhists chickens (with heads and feet, the better to make soup with, my dear). A block away, Vinh Hung shines on Southeast Asian goodies -- it's a reliable source for plump galanga roots, lemon grass fresh enough for replanting, and scores of canned or bottled Thai curry pastes that Thais (rather than yuppie farang) actually use. They, too, have some live seafood, including oysters at a price that allows for orgies. And both markets carry produce in such freshness and variety that once you've shopped there, you'll view your supermarket produce case as a hospice for expiring veggies.

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