BEST ASIAN GROCERY (2005)
Lucky Oriental Mart
305-220-2838 The aroma hits you at the door, a kind of sour-sweet spice hanging low in the air. Looking around at Lucky's polished aisles, you suddenly feel you're not in Miami anymore. The customers are varied -- Asian families shop with purpose and confidence, whereas patrons of other ethnicities linger in the aisles, eyes wide with wonder, questions spilling from their eager lips. Some of the products cause these unfamiliar visitors to scrunch their noses and wince: crab spawn paste, preserved mud fish in a jar, bitter gourd tea. Many containers feature Chinese characters translated to amusing effect. One package reads "Mid-Old Ages Breakfast Paste. Agreeable to Taste." Hmmm. The Ladies' Soya Drink container boasts "The Appointed Drink for Actress of National Ballet of China." Alrighty then. There is much to question, much to discover, and much to purchase. Pearl Soybean Drink and plum juice are chilled in the refrigerated-goods section, which is flanked by an aisle's worth of ramen and other assorted noodles. Adorable bonsais, money trees, and every coiling variety of lucky bamboo clog a corner near the door. In the fresh produce aisle spiky-skinned durian monthongs rest alongside round, green Thai eggplant and cucumber-size Taiwan okra. The tilapia is so fresh it's swimming in tanks in the fish department. Tea for pleasure, or whatever ails you: Slimming Tea, Diabetes-Care, Kidney-Liver Mind, Aging Delai, Horny Goat Weed. And to serve the tea, ceramic pots, cups, and saucers are right around the corner. Near the counter, a glass case contains glittering tchochkes: statues of Buddha in all of his colorful incarnations, lucky cats, and Kwan Yin, beloved and beautiful goddess of mercy, beaming peacefully down at it all.
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