Fisgard Market

fisgard market2Victoria is home to the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco.  The picturesque neighborhood is one of our favourite areas in town for shopping, dining and exploring.  It is also the perfect place for budget savvy shoppers to find affordable groceries.

Fisgard Market, located on its namesake, Fisgard Street, buzzes night and day with customers who know where to find the good stuff.  If you are looking to stock your pantry with Asian staples, this is THE place to do it.  Maesri Curry Paste, Gojuchang (a fiery Korean bbq sauce), Sriracha, LKK oyster sauce, tamarind concentrate, sweet Chinese sausage, mirin, fish sauce, black sesame seeds, fresh egg noodles – you’ll find it all here.  If it is fresh produce you are hankering after, flanking the entrance to the market, boxes overflow with the usual fruits and veggies as well as perfumed exotica such as dragon fruit or persimmon and intriguing vegetables such as kohlrabi, Thai eggplant and gai lan.  Nubbly kohlrabi may a little look oddball, but this cabbage/turnip is mild and sweet and makes dynamite addition to any crudite platter. Gai Lan, sui choy, and other Chinese greens are sublime sauteed with a little garlic, chili flakes and a dollop of the aforementioned oyster sauce (try LKK brand, not only is it the best, but it comes in a pretty, decorative bottle).

fisgard marketIf you are overwhelmed by all the ingredients on display, we suggest signing up for local chef Heidi Fink’s Chinatown tour.  Heidi, an amiable personality and expert cook will take you through the Market and show you exactly which brands to purchase and how to use them.  She’ll also give you a cursory history of the area. You’ll get to nosh on bbq pork and an array of sweet and savoury Chinese bakery items.  The tour will culminate in a tea tasting at Silk Road Tea Shop.  We took the tour ourselves and found it exceedingly helpful.  Heidi expanded our repertoire as home cooks, and she showed us where to source ingredients we thought were unavailable, such as Thai Basil and galangal.  If you are interested in taking Heidi’s tour, check out her page here: .  She also teaches cooking classes in and around town.

Any curious cook will find inspiration perusing Fisgard Market.  There are a few disconcerting items in the store, like the whole turtles in the freezer, but, if you aren’t too squeamish, the unfamiliar is half the fun of shopping here.  Be careful you aren’t run down by the stock boys who routinely careen up and down the aisles, pushing trolleys at a terrifying pace and screaming bloody blue murder while they are at it. When we said this place was hectic, we weren’t kidding, but the risk being run over by a cart groaning with Durian fruit is  well worth it to procure a passel of  incredible edibles that even Paltry Pete, Victoria’s notoriously thrifty rooster, would want to crow about.

Have you tried shopping in Victoria’s Chinatown?  What is your favourite Asian ingredient?  Visit our Twitter and Facebook pages and tell Uncle Monty all about it.  We have posted a link below that we hope will guide you in building your own fierce Asian pantry.

Happy cooking, pretty ponies!

Love Monty, Pete and the whole gang at H.A.



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