Monday, March 19, 2012

D. H. Supermarket (大華超市), Mount Eden (or Eggy Experiences)

I've already waxed lyrical about the Avondale Sunday Market, but on other days, or if I don't want to venture so far for fresh and inexpensive vegetables, I head to the D. H. Supermarket (also called Dahua), a Chinese supermarket which was formerly Silver Bell.  The specials they have at the moment, for instance, are two (that's 2) small watermelons for 99c (!!! - we tried them and they were juicy and sweet too), and gala apples for 49c a kilogram!  The place is not as big and clean as the Tai Ping quite a bit up the road in Mount Roskill, but you can pick up some good bargains and they even accept credit cards for payments over something like $20.

Shelf of Asian vegetables, close to closing time.
Like other Chinese supermarkets, they have a separate meat and fish section, and you can buy groceries from other Asian cuisines like Korean and Japanese as well.  There is also a separate room for the grains and another for the alcohol (this is where you look for the Chinese cooking wine).  By the back entrance leading to the small carpark, there are mini shops within the supermarket, selling things like roast meat and Chinese street food, where you pay separately from the main supermarket cashier.

A nameless shop within the supermarket, selling such items as fried bread sticks (yóu tiáo, 油條) and sweet and savoury stuffed glutinous rice packets wrapped in bamboo leaves (zòng ​zi, 粽子).

Make sure you check what you are buying, because something which is being discounted may be expired or about to expire, and turn up early to avoid the crowds, get the best pick of produce, and perhaps breakfast on a Chinese crepe.

Highlight: Jianbing or Chinese Crepe (jiān​ bing guǒ​ zi, 煎餅果子)

[Added 4 August 2013: Sadly, this stall disappeared some time ago now.]

You go to D. H. Supermarket for your fresh vegies, mainly, but I also like the jianbing I had from one of the nameless shops there the other day.  I first ate one of these Chinese crepes at the Taiwan Cultural and Traditional Games Festival (see my previous post for a video of this being made) and have been on the lookout for it ever since.  Basically a very thin pancake with an egg cracked into it, in this case wrapping two squares of crunchy wonton wrapper, brushed with hoisin and chilli sauce, and garnished with spring onions and black sesame seeds, it is the perfect mix of sweet and savoury, softness and crunch.

A half-eaten jianbing.
Eat it immediately, while it is hot and the cracker still crisp.  Well, maybe exit the supermarket first, but don't dilly-dally.  It is such a delicious and filling meal for only $4.50 ($5 if you get it with soymilk as a combo).  The sign for the jianbing shows a photo of a multitude of grains that presumably went into the batter, so I guess you can claim it is healthy as well.

My only reservation was to do with hygiene, but I have the same concerns when I go to an icecream store and see the scoops sitting in a container of murky water.  Let me assure you that there were no unfortunate consequences to my breakfast (other than an overly full belly), and in any case, the thing is cooked for a good few minutes.

To order, point to the menu item labelled "Pan-fried roll", or look for a photo which includes an egg in it, at the stall pictured above.  A1 is currently the variety with a fried bread stick inside, while A2 is the option with the crispy wonton wrapper.  You will also be asked whether you want it spicy.  You do, because that chilli sauce is lovely.

I have seen jianbing for sale at the Pakuranga Night Market as well, but this place at D. H. Supermarket is closer and available daily.  I am tempted to say it is also more delicious, but I would have to go to the night market to verify.  In any case, I really enjoyed my crepe here.  Give it a go, even if it is weird ordering hot food from a supermarket stall.

Highlight: Eggs, Wondrous Eggs

Another great thing about D. H. Supermarket is the variety of eggs they sell.  I have seen fresh goose, duck and quail eggs here, in addition to the usual chicken variety, including free range chicken eggs.  The more exotic eggs aren't cheap, but I do an internal happy dance every time I find something novel for sale.

Fresh goose eggs for sale, when in season.
Being a Chinese supermarket, preserved or century eggs are also available.  There are two types for sale, one with what looks like a coating of clay and rice husk, and another with a smooth, blue-greyish shell.  I am not sure yet if are any flavour differences, but I will find out and let you know.

Quail eggs and two sorts of preserved eggs.
Unfortunately, they didn't appear to have any salted eggs on my last visit, which led me to purchase some  "fresh" duck eggs instead...

Lowlight: Exploding Rotten Duck Egg

What you want to do is to buy the things that everyone else buys, which are replaced regularly.  Those Asian greens are fantastic.  Avoid the things which look like they have been sitting there for a while, like the duck eggs in the fridge, which I have seen the last few times I went to the shop, but finally decided to try anyway.  I thought they were dodgy looking, the last four in the same tray for the past few weeks or longer, but there were no salted eggs for sale, and I had the idea that I would make my own.

The fact that the cashier had to leave the counter to check the price of them should have been ample warning, but I bought my duck eggs anyway.  They felt well chilled; what could be wrong?  I discovered the answer when I sat down in the car.  Just as we were about to drive home, there was a sound like a gunshot.  Something wet hit my face and the horrible sulphurous smell of rotten egg spread through the car.

The case of the exploding egg.
So there you have it.  There's good and there's bad, not to mention plenty of eggs-citement to be had at your local D. H. Supermarket.

Store Details

D. H. Supermarket (大華超市)
83 Dominion Road, Mount Eden, Auckland
(09) 630 2900

Opening hours:
Mondays to Sundays 9am - 7pm (inner shops close 6:30pm)

D. H. Supermarket is at the city end of Dominion Road.

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  1. I guess that left you with egg on your face.

  2. They do sell salted eggs but you need to know where to look.

    1. Oh cool, is it anywhere near the fridge where I was looking? I asked a couple of staff and they tried looking, then said they were out. I've subsequently tried the pre-cooked ones that don't need refrigeration, but they were not nice at all.


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