My neighbor, who is from Japan, was nice enough to tell me about the Asian markets in the area. She even took me to a small Taiwanese market (Kam Sam Market) in Rockville earlier in the month. After picking up a few items, she suggested that we drive a block farther to a Chinese market her foodie friends had told her about. Despite only popping in the store for a few minutes, we were impressed with the size of the market and the selection; it was more impressive than the Taiwanese market, frankly.
So, I went back to Great Wall (GW) Supermarket on my own to find some inspiration after reading Fuchsia Dunlop's Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China.
The variety of meat and fish, vegetables, and wheat-based food items (buns, noodles, dumplings, etc.) was a bit overwhelming but it brought back good food-shopping memories of Ranch 99 back in California. I didn't buy any fish this time around, but at least I know I can get fresh (i.e., live) seafood here, including ...
... live frogs, soft shell turtles, blue crab, rockfish, and dried jelly fish!
They had a small selection of Japanese food items, and a whole aisle dedicated to Southeast Asian ingredients. It might not impress native Thai or Vietnamese cooks, but it seemed like it would satisfy any basic ingredient needs should I want to try my hand at those cuisines.
Another reason to go back to GW is their take-out counter. For $4.99 you can get a heaping serving of rice, three dishes (there was even lobster), and soup. I didn't try it this time since I bought a container of congee and pastries instead. For $5 it's worth a try at least once if I'm in the area. The pastries are buy five, get one free so I bought some for dessert. The egg custard tart was my favorite by far; the chocolate-filled bun, not so much.
700 Hungerford Drive
Rockville, MD 20850