We must have driven by Tian Phat along the Bedford Highway a gazillion times
I really did not think a store like Tian Phat Asian Grocery existed in the Halifax area. One day Dominique, one of my Facebook friends, mentioned it to me and I was shocked. Then, when she said it was on the Bedford Highway, I just could not believe it. It was too good to be true!
Sure enough, the next time we drove along the meandering highway… there it was at Flamingo Drive. How could I have missed it?
Remember how I spent the day downtown with Shelagh recently? The awkward portobello sandwich? The dry brownie and cold coffee? Shelagh wanted to change the foodie mojo of the day and take me to Tian Phat so I could finally experience it.
The store is not huge but it is packed! I took this photograph with my arm extended above my head to show you that there is product literally to the ceiling. Oh and that giant bag in the foreground of the photo? Those are dried chilies and you can buy the entire back for around $20!
I almost lost it when I saw that they had an endless selection of Asian dishes. I thought I would have to wait to get dishes like this when I finally get back to Toronto one day. I got all excited and thought to myself, “Now I don’t have to worry about travelling with them. I can just stock up right now….!!!”
It was at this point I had to stop, take a deep breath and clear my head. “You are on a strict budget Suzie! So focus…” I asked myself what I needed more than anything right now? The answer of course was = food. Not dishes!
Then I wanted to weep a little when I discovered the quail eggs. I had not seen any since we moved away from the Vancouver area. This store, in so many ways, made me feel right at home. I used to go to markets like this one every day when I lived in Vancouver.
Snap out of it Suzie! The store, remember? Write about the store…
The aisles at Tian Phat are quite narrow but there is so much to see. I could have spent days and days looking at every little item on the cramped stacked shelves covered in goodies. I love that the extracts there were banana and coconut. No vanilla anywhere!
To accommodate the narrow aisles you can get these little buggies that are very light (which my hands appreciated) so you can stock up (which I obviously did) and keep skooting through the store.
This man was quite adorable. He seemed more worried about messing up my shot by walking through it by accident than caring that I was taking photographs.
You can find Tian Phat Asian Grocery at 209 Bedford Highway on your way out of Halifax, going towards Bedford. They have parking and the staff was very nice to me. The only thing I needed help with was finding Szechuan peppers and they found them for me with ease.
I recently bought Jamie Oliver’s Meals in Minutes and he seems to like to work with Szechuan peppers regularly. It is one of those ingredients I dreamed of buying when I visit Toronto one day. How amazing that I can get started to work on his recipe right now if I wanted to! What freedom Tian Phat Asian Grocery has given me.
The prices were astounding. I bought all of this for just over $40. I got two bags of dried shiitake mushrooms, since my grocery seems to no longer be carrying fresh shiitakes. They are one of the best lines of defence against all sickness, they are huge immunity boosters. I got those two big bags for $7 which is just unbelievable.
My grocery store also seems to no longer be selling miso so I got a package of it and have been making miso soup with the buckwheat soba noodles I got, as well as those fabulous shiitake mushrooms. So nice to have one of my favourite soups in the big beautiful blue bowl I did end up buying. It was my greatest indulgence at $8.
I got some other little dishes, shrimp paste (which I have no idea what to do with but can’t wait to try it out), tamarind so I can make continue to try and make authentic Thai noodles, even more noodles, Kaffir lime leaves and, of course, the Szechuan peppercorns.
This is truly a treasure trove of foodie items for me and I am so grateful to Shelagh for taking me. I do not get out much but will ask Reg to make special trips to this store on a regular basis now. I know he will love to go, going there will make him feel like he is back in Vancouver too. Perhaps many people who go to this store will feel as though they have been transported to a different world. For me, growing up in Toronto and living in Vancouver for years, it makes me feel right at home.
Tian Phat is truly an authentic Asian grocery store that I hope sticks around for a long, long time. By the time I left I was on foodie Cloud 9. It has opened the door to so many recipe possibilities that were denied before. I can’t think of anything more exciting!