When it comes to cooking, seasoning and specialty ingredients make all the difference. But unless you live in a booming metropolis, it can be hard to find international foods, snacks, and spices locally, even if your city has a bustling Chinatown, Little Tokyo, or Little India. Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to click “add to cart” and order stuff to your door, and better availability to shop for all your favorite Asian groceries without ever leaving your kitchen—or bed, for that matter. We’re not talking about the limp bok choy you sometimes see floating around the bottom shelf of your local supermarket, and we don’t mean Top Ramen, either—though, might as well snag a few packs, while you’re there. No, we’re talking about legit Asian snacks, pantry staples, and well-sourced kitchen must-haves.
“With major food platforms like the New York Times and Bon Appétit diversifying their recipes in recent years, home cooks are finding themselves needing to track down ingredients like Japanese yuzu kosho or Taiwanese sacha sauce,” Bettina Makalintal wrote for MUNCHIES. “But unless you live in an area with a large Asian population, these options can still be hard to find. The ‘Asian’ aisles at mainstream grocery chains offer only basic ingredients, and in many parts of the United States, Asian grocery stores are sparse… As a result, you often have to make do with whatever you can find. In the absence of Asian grocery stores, you can try the internet.”
And try we have, friends—and very much succeeded, since there are now (thankfully) plenty of options to choose from when sourcing Asian ingredients on the web. From delicious spice-slingers and online Japanese snack emporiums to virtual Asian grocery stores with hundreds of items, there’s never been a better time to stock your pantry with products from the best Asian grocery stores on the web.
Umamicart is an online craft food platform that specializes in fresh produce, pantry staples, frozen meat and fish, and more. The brand is also relatively new, but has quickly made a name for itself as a top-shelf online Asian grocery store, with condiments, snacks, pantry items, and even fresh meats, fruits, and vegetables. Shoppers can also peruse Umamicart's virtual “Collections” aisle, which is full of sets that come with everything you need to throw massive, Asian-inspired dinner parties, including this Hot Pot Essentials Kit for happy dippin’ and a Japanese Kit Kat sampler that we’d love to give as a gift… to ourselves.
Fly By Jing
Fly by Jing (one of our favorite online shops for delicious frozen dumplings) is a Sichuan-centric craft food brand that was founded in 2018 by chef Jing Gao, who says she was inspired by “the amazing flavors of my hometown Chengdu and its famous fly restaurants—soulful hole-in-the-wall eateries so good they attract diners like flies.” You’ve probably heard of the brand’s lauded chile oil, delectable dumplings, or perhaps the dope hot pot starter set.
Oh Bokksu, how we love you. “If you've ever traveled outside the US, you probably know by now that some other parts of the world have really incredible snack juju—with Japan possibly taking the (mochi) cake when it comes to who reigns supreme,” Rec Room contributor Angel Kilmister writes about the online Japanese snack marketplace. Our advice? Stop what you’re doing and stuff your face—and your shopping cart—with the delicious flavors of Japanese Kit Kats, mochi, gummies, soda, crunchy rice crackers, crispy Pocky, fluffy breads, and more. (Pro Tip: Use the code VICE15 at checkout to get 15% off your first order.)
It’s more than a fun name: Weee! delivers essential grocery items right to your door with no shopping fees or subscription costs, and offers free delivery on orders over $35. The brand specializes in local and organic produce and is on a mission to explore authentic Asian (and Hispanic) snacks and products from around the world. Looking for some takoyaki balls, I-Mei Choco Puffs, or seaweed pancakes? Weee!’s got you covered.
Founded by Vietnamese-American sisters Vanessa and Kim Pham, Omsom is the Asian pantry brand that saves our dinners, time and time again, with its flavorful sauce packets for veggies, fish, meat, and whatever is going in the stir fry on a Monday night. Grab the Best Seller Set to make 15 delicious meals [toots airhorn] via convenient and flavor spice starters, such as Vietnamese lemongrass BBQ, Thai larb, Japanese yuzu misoyaki, Korean spicy bulgogi and more. (And don’t forget to check out the merch!)
Brooklyn-based Kim’C Market strives to make quality, meticulously-sourced Korean grocery products and kitchenware available to everyone, and all of the brand’s products are imported from Korea. “Our goal was to become like a Whole Foods of Asian groceries,” founder Ryan Kim told VICE. Kim’C Market—which now delivers all over the country—has gone from five products to 180. The store's most popular item, Kim says, is a 1,000-day-fermented gochujang sauce.
“We know two things,” the online Filipino grocery store Sarap Now’s website reads. “We love Filipino food, and no matter where you are in the world, you will find a Filipino there.” Sarap Now brings customers traditional Filipino snacks, goodies, and ingredients, as well as artisanal goods including ube butter, bibingka donuts, and more, all in one place.
Xiao Chi Jie, or The XCJ, is an online Chinese food marketplace with a goal to create “new, multidimensional representations of what it means to be our own brand of Asian American and create a cuisine that deserves a place in the American food ecosystem,” the website reads. Rec Room's editorial director Hilary Pollack made XCJ's soup dumplings and says they're mind-blowing and hella easy to prepare. She’s also a fan of the Ginger & Scallion Umami sauce, which she calls "umami heaven."
Happy hunting folks—may your cart be full of dumplings, and your future filled with good fortune and delicious meals.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.