Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bulk Food Savings

There's this little shop on Dominion Road, tucked out of sight behind the Two Fifteen restaurant, a hair salon, what used to be a Telecom shop on the corner, and that delicious tapas restaurant, Serafin [Added 28 July 2014: that corner shop is now Murder Burger and the spot where Serafin was is now another branch of Mink Cafe].  The easiest way for you to find it would be to make like you want to go to the Wendy's drive-thru, with entry off Walters Road.  Then you will see a car park and a squat building labelled Bulk Food Savings, a treasure trove of cooking supplies.

It's funny that I should get excited about a store with no fresh vegetables, but there are just so many things I don't normally see here.  And unlike many ethnic groceries, which also contain inspiring discoveries, this place is spotlessly clean, with plenty of organic options for the health conscious, and a simply-labelled assortment of products for the culinary adventurer.

Bulk bins, a wide range of dried fruit and spices, and much more.
Take the spice rack on the far wall, for example.  Apart from your usual parsley, rosemary and sage, you can find ajwain (carom seeds), amchur (dried and powdered unripe green mangoes), amla (Indian gooseberry), annatto seeds, asario (garden cress, Lepidium sativum) seeds, dill tips, fenugreek leaves, juniper berries, karela (bitter melon) powder, whole mace, whole nutmeg and tukmaria (basil seeds).  They even have a great range in something as basic as pepper: take your pick from whole black pepper, New York cut pepper, ground pepper, cracked pepper, lemon pepper, pink, green or white peppercorns, and of course, organic black pepper.  Szechuan pepper is not really pepper, but you can buy it at Bulk Food Savings too.  There were also things I have never heard of before, like sanchora, which I later discovered was just raw sea salt.  (You can also purchase coarse Sicilian sea salt, kelp mineral rock salt, volcanic black salt, and a pink-coloured mineral salt.)  Not everything is always there though.  When I went a couple of days ago, they were out of cinammon sticks.  Fortunately, I wasn't even half way through the packet I bought there, oh, probably a year ago.

Dried fruits are pretty standard grocery items, right?  But have you seen the variety here?  From dried apples (both sliced and diced), to dried strawberries, to kiwifruit to pear, pineapple, papaya, this shop has all you need to make the most awesome cereal mix, or perhaps the most inventive fruit cake.

Looking for something filling?  Apart from bulk breakfast cereal items like rice bubbles and corn flakes, and the usual baking goods like flour and cornflour, you will find a variety of grains and pulses, such as rice in different forms (from arborio to wild rice), organic amaranth flakes, organic buckwheat flour, polenta in various grind sizes, organic burghul and couscous, toover dhal (split pigeon peas), lentils (beluga, french green, red), beans (adzuki, chana/chickpea, brown chana, moong) and popping corn (available loose in the bulk bin, as well as still on the cob).

Nuts and seeds are not overlooked either, so you can buy a big bag of hazelnuts rather than several of those tiny packets in the baking section of the supermarket.  Some are coated in chocolate.  There are nut butters, which I love, though peanut butter makes me happy as much as a fancier one.  Organic chia seeds and organic ground flaxseed are also available, along with the more familiar poppy seeds.

Those into natural health remedies will be interested in the psyllium powder, bee pollen, and stevia powder (both in white extract form and green leaf form).  There is also a range of alternative milks (soy milk, organic almond milk, organic rice milk, oat milk) and herbal teas.

More into trying ethnic foods?  Here, you can find sesame helva from Israel, rose water from Lebanon, biscuits and tinned vegetables from Europe, various sauces, wild arame, organic miso and organic tamari sauce, as well as convenient packets of Indian food, such as ready-to-fry masala papad.

In short, Bulk Food Savings is a great place to go for your cupboard staples, as well as unusual and organic ingredients.  Despite having little branding or information on most products (I am never quite sure how much of something is in one of those pre-packed bags), chances are, there will be something that takes your fancy.

Store Details

Bulk Food Savings
217 Dominion Rd, Mount Eden, Auckland
(09) 630 6235

Opening hours:
Mondays to Saturdays 9am - 6pm
Sundays 10am - 4pm
To find the shop entrance, follow the sign to the start of the Wendy's drive-thru.

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