While cities around metro Atlanta boast of weekly Farmers markets, the Asian side of metro Atlanta pride themselves with street and sidewalk markets. Grandmas hawking fresh, organic fruits and veggies, seafood, sauces, and many more.
Right outside Quoc Hong, mostly on weekends, Grandma sells the sweetest oranges on earth. Softball-sized variety is $10 per a 10-pound bag. Huge, freshly-caught, Gulf Tiger shrimp as long as 8 inches (stretched out) go for $5 a pound (6-8 count). A steal considering they go for $15 and upwards a pound at supermarkets.
But what you shouldn’t miss is her organic veggies. Potato leaves work just as well as spinach. And the water spinach? It’s the only place you’ll see them. Also known in English as straw vegetables (there’s a hole inside like a straw), the USDA has classified this plant as a noxious weed in 2010. That means you won’t find this plant in any Asian store. But you’ll find it in our own Buford Highway! $5 a bunch gets you freshly-harvested ong choy (Chinese) or rau mong (Vietnamese), or kankung (Malaysian), or pak boong (Thai). Stir-fried with soy sauce or steamed with oyster sauce and you have a fantastic veggie dish.
Over in Duluth, Grandma sells her goods out of a mini van, in the parking lots of Korean restaurants. She makes her own kimchi (both red and white), doenjang (miso paste), and gochugaru (chili powder). She sells organic fruits and veggies from her garden: sweet potatoes, persimmons, green Korean pepper, napa cabbage, peanuts, and dried red chili peppers. Her sweet potatoes are so sweet. Boil or roast them then slather lots of butter for a great snack.
She makes amazing kimchi. This big bottle of special kimchi goes for $20. It includes fat, organic green onions. There are other grades of kimchi — $10 for the not so special (no special green onions), and $30 for the huge jar of white kimchi.
While Chinese grandma stays put inside Asian Square, Korean grandma is more of a gypsy. You’ll find her mini van all throughout the week in Duluth and as late as 8PM — in the Super H parking lot, Point Berkeley International Village, Market Square — all within 5 miles of each other on Pleasant Hill.
As always, merchandise vary. Check often. Also, these grandmas barely speak English. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to communicate. I do. And of course, cash only please.