What to buy in Sapa? Asian groceries! (3)

On the last Sunday of January, I once again devoted time to the Sapa Prague market, shopping at Tamda Foods, and I couldn’t miss a visit to one of my favorite restaurants (this time the winner was what I consider the best duck in Sapa – Dũng Liên bistro). If you’re looking for even more inspiration, I recommend reading the first part of the series “What to Buy in Sapa” and its second part.

If I had to recommend just one ingredient from the list below to try, it would definitely be the Cock brand Tom Yum soup seasoning paste. I have been repeatedly buying this brand for more than 10 years and I have not found a better one yet. All groceries were purchased at Tamda Foods, I used their membership card, if you don’t have one, the price will be slightly higher.

Cock Brand Tom Yum Soup Seasoning Paste

Tom Yum soup is probably one of the most famous Thai dishes. The name “Tom Yum” is derived from the Thai words “tom,” which means boiled, and “yum,” hot and sour. The name thus directly reflects the characteristic taste of the soup. The seasoning paste contains ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, or chili peppers. The soup is traditionally prepared with fresh herbs such as cilantro. There are two main variants of this soup: Tom Yum Goong, which contains shrimp, and Tom Yum Gai, which is with chicken. This Cock brand seasoning paste is my favorite (it even surpasses the seasoning pastes from Asian Home Gourmet, which I otherwise can’t get enough of). It is available in this small and larger packaging, it lasts many months in the refrigerator once opened. One 454 g package cost 95.90 CZK (3.80 EUR).

Cock Brand Tom Yum Soup Seasoning Paste
Cock Brand Tom Yum Soup Seasoning Paste

Thai Dancer Brand Tom Kha Soup Seasoning Paste

Tom Kha is a fragrant Thai soup, its name literally means “boiled galangal“, which refers to one of the key ingredients. Galangal is a root similar to ginger that gives the soup its distinctive flavor. This traditional Thai soup is made with coconut milk. Tom Kha is often prepared with chicken (Tom Kha Gai), but it can also contain seafood (shrimp) or can be completely vegetarian. These seasoning pastes from the Thai food company Thai Dancer are also among my favorites. One 50 g package of this seasoning paste cost 20.90 CZK (0.80 EUR).

Thai Dancer Brand Tom Kha Soup Seasoning Paste
Thai Dancer Brand Tom Kha Soup Seasoning Paste

Frozen Mandu Dumplings Stuffed with Beef

Spoiled by the stuffed dumplings from Chinese restaurant Hua Long Zhai, I also added frozen mandu dumplings to my shopping cart at Tamda Foods. Mandu are Korean dumplings filled with various fillings. They are similar to Chinese jiaozi or Japanese gyoza dumplings, but there are subtle differences among them. The mandu filling usually includes a mixture of ground meat (beef, pork, or chicken), tofu, kimchi, Chinese cabbage, green onions, mushrooms, or glass noodles. Mandu can be prepared in various ways: boiled in water (mul-mandu), steamed (jjin-mandu), fried (gun-mandu), or as part of a soup (mandu-guk).

When preparing mandu, the dough (most commonly made of wheat flour) is rolled out into thin circles or squares, onto which a small amount of filling is placed. The dough is then folded and carefully sealed to create a small dumpling, which can have various shapes. Mandu is popular during the Korean New Year and other holidays, but you can eat it all year round.

One 525 g package stuffed with ground beef cost 155 CZK (6.10 EUR). I prepared these dumplings steamed, and their quantity should satisfy 2 – 3 eaters.

Frozen Mandu Dumplings Stuffed with Beef
Frozen Mandu Dumplings Stuffed with Beef

Frozen Mandu Dumplings Stuffed with Shrimp

I also added to the basket mandu dumplings stuffed with shrimp. The shrimp were chopped into smaller pieces, and there was a generous amount of filling. A 360 g package cost 139 CZK (5.50 EUR), and the quantity of dumplings in this case should be sufficient for 2 people.

Frozen Mandu Dumplings Stuffed with Shrimp
Frozen Mandu Dumplings Stuffed with Shrimp

Canned Coconut Milk

Coconut milk is widely used in Asian cuisine. This time, I didn’t purchase my favorite Aroy-D brand coconut milk, but I was convinced by the price of this coconut milk with a high fat content (17 – 19%) in a can. Coconut milk is made by steeping grated coconut flesh in water and then straining it, which separates the fatty part from the coconut water. Prepared this way, the milk has a high fat content (usually around 17-24%), but the fat content can vary depending on the brand and type (for example, light versions have a lower fat content). It should be mentioned that while Aroy-D coconut milk is liquid, this one has a solid consistency. One 400 ml can cost 31.90 CZK (1.30 EUR) and for this price, I would definitely buy it again next time if such an opportunity arose.

Canned Coconut Milk
Canned Coconut Milk

Flying Goose Brand Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Sauce

The Thai company Flying Goose is probably the most famous producer of sriracha sauces worldwide. The company was founded in the Si Racha province, which is considered the place of origin for sriracha sauce. Flying Goose produces a whole spectrum of sriracha sauces, varying in heat level and different flavors (e.g., garlic sriracha, mayonnaise sriracha, or smoky sriracha). In my subjective opinion, this sweet and spicy version is suitable for those interested in getting acquainted with these sauces, as the spiciness is milder. A 200 ml package cost 50.90 CZK (2 EUR).

Flying Goose Brand Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Sauce
Flying Goose Brand Sweet and Spicy Sriracha Sauce

Uni-Eagle Brand Super Hot Sriracha Sauce

While looking for a “regularly hot” sriracha sauce at Tamda Foods, I was not successful this time, so I brought home this super hot sriracha sauce by Uni-Eagle brand to try. The very similar packaging beautifully shows a certain standardization that prevails in the sriracha sauce market, with the packages looking quite alike. Uni-Eagle is a less known brand than Flying Goose, perhaps that’s why this larger 210 ml package is priced at 47.90 CZK (1.90 EUR).

Uni-Eagle Brand Super Hot Sriracha Sauce
Uni-Eagle Brand Super Hot Sriracha Sauce

Rice Vermicelli Noodles

Rice vermicelli noodles are very thin noodles made from rice flour and water. These noodles are popular in many Asian cuisines due to their quick preparation time and ability to absorb flavors quickly (they are not very flavorful on their own). They are naturally gluten-free. You can find these thin noodles as a side dish in almost all restaurants in Sapa (in dishes like Bún chả, Bún bò Nam Bộ, or Bún riêu cua). I don’t have a favorite brand of thin rice noodles; I buy them based on the best offer available. This 400 g package cost 54.90 CZK (2.20 EUR).

Rice Vermicelli Noodles
Rice Vermicelli Noodles

Change in Payment Options at Tamda Foods Store

If you visit Sapa in Prague regularly, then you know that almost everywhere only cash is accepted. The Tamda Foods store (along with the Jasmino.cz store) was one of the few exceptions where card payments were possible (albeit with a small surcharge). There are also three ATMs from different banks in front of Tamda Foods, and you won’t find any other ATMs in Sapa. However, during my visit in January, I found out that Tamda Foods no longer accepts card payments (payment via bank application with QR code and of course cash is possible). Since many Tamda Foods customers are not aware of this change, all three ATMs in front of the store are hopelessly empty (I couldn’t withdraw a single banknote). I therefore recommend bringing enough cash with you as shopping at Tamda Foods is definitely worth it.