Grocery Shopping in Shenyang… American style.

I’ve told you before about the local markets I like to buy meat and produce from, but what if you need cheese, bread, and canned goods? These items are not commonly used in Chinese cooking, but fortunately, Shenyang has some nice new grocery stores to fill that import food need.

Yoo Hoo:

  This is the grocery store in the basement of the Richgate Mall, beside the Lexington Hotel. It’s just down the street from the North Train Station so you can even get here on the Shenyang Subway line 2 (Bei Zhan stop.) This place reminds me of a Whole Foods Market. They carry only import goods from all over the world. They have a great cheese and deli section. And sometimes avocados in the produce section! It’s pricey, but if you really need a guacamole fix, sometimes it’s worth it.

Olé

This store opened about a year ago in the new MixC mall (Wan Xiang Cheng) on Qingnian Street just north of Zhanlanguan (Exhibition Hall) also accessible on Subway Line 2 (zhanlanguan stop). There is an exit from the metro that takes you directly into the basement of the MixC and right past Starbucks toward Olé. It’s similar to YooHoo but doesn’t have quite the selection they do. They are comparable on price, but Ole is easier to get to so it’s good for a quick trip. I usually buy ciabatta bread, and sometimes cheese here. They also have the best bacon in town.

Riverside Market (aka. The Little Store.)

This place was like a treasure chest and Christmas all rolled up into one when I was first introduced to it. Keep in mind, the above 2 grocery stores didn’t open for six months and a year after we arrived so this little place was IT for the good stuff.

It’s actually still a like a weekly treasure hunt because their stock changes frequently and you never know what’s going to arrive. There’s a Shenyang expat rule you better learn fast or you’ll be frequently disappointed, if there is something you see that you think you might want in the future, buy it. immediately. And probably buy several. Don’t wait and plan to come back tomorrow. It WILL be gone. And there’s a good chance you won’t see it again for months. Or maybe ever.

The is the place to find the American comfort foods. Breakfast sausage, Doritos, Tortilla chips and salsa, Kraft Mac & Cheese. Last week, they even had frozen waffles.

Carrefour

This store has been in Shenyang for several years. French owned, it is similar to Wal-mart in the US. They have the best prices on import goods although their selection is pretty slim. I usually buy milk, cereal, and a few can goods here. The one at the big circle overpass at the intersection of Qingnian and Wenhua Road has the best import section. Bring your A-game for a trip here because it is cah-razy. Like Black Friday on steroids. To save your sanity, don’t even try to go on a weekend.

Notice that I didn’t mention Walmart. While Shenyang does have several, they don’t have the import goods you’d expect. Walmart tends to cater to local tastes and in my experience tends to be kind of dirty. I usually stick to the above mentioned stores (plus the market) for most of my shopping. Although you should definitely make at least one trip to a Walmart in China, just for the experience. That’s one you just have to see for yourself.

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Shenyang Pet Market – Chongwu Shichang

A few weeks ago, a friend called asking if I knew where to buy a new puppy in Shenyang. Dog shopping is not something I’ve done in China, but I’d heard of a couple places through the grapevine. I offered to go on the hunt with her and her son. I’m always up for an adventure.

Our first stop was at a little shop on the first floor of the fish and flower market called Bei Shichang. They only had a few kittens mixed in with a handful of puppies, as they mostly sold birds and other animals. While they were adorably tempting, none struck the fancy of her son, who was to be the owner of the new puppy.

From there we were a little stuck. But her driver mentioned that he knew of one other place we could. He warned us that we’d need to be a little careful because some of the small ones could be sick and to be wary if the price was too cheap. He said to expect to pay anywhere from 500-1000 RMB.

It was a good 30 minute drive there and to be honest, I’m not even sure what part of the city it’s in. But as soon as we pulled up, I knew we were in the right place. You could hear the dogs barking from outside the gate.

It’s called Chongwu Shichang, or Chongwu Market. You have to buy a 1 yuan ticket per person to get inside and surrounding the outside were all kinds of little pet shops selling food, toys, beds, and any other pet supply you could want.

There were hundreds of dogs of all breeds. I went back and forth from feeling elated to be surrounded by dogs again (I really miss my sweet lab who couldn’t make the trip to China with us.) and feeling a little sad because the conditions of the place were less than ideal.

Even still, I really enjoyed it.

There were big dogs…

(This fellow looked like a bear!)

and teeny tiny dogs…

And even a few cats.

In the end, he finally decided on this itty bitty ball of fur that was just too adorable to pass by.

And she was quite happy to steal a ride home in his baseball cap.

 

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Nanhu Park Flower Market

Now that Spring has officially arrived in Shenyang, as evidenced by the enormous amounts of construction, dust storms, and ladies with scarves wrapped around their heads, my friend and I decided to head out and look for some plants and flowers to bring some green and life into our apartments.

We weren’t sure exactly where to find them, as usual. This is the one of the biggest struggles as an expat. At home, I know exactly where to go if I want to buy flowers (or lightbulbs, or shoe strings). Or if I don’t want to make a special trip to the nursery, I can just pick up a couple pots while I’m at the grocery store and kill 2 birds with 1 stone. You can’t really do that in China. The “superstores” and “one-stop-shops” aren’t the same. When you move to another country, it’s all those little things you have to relearn that you don’t really think about.

Now, I’d heard from a friend that there was a flower market near Nanhu Park. Unfortunately, that’s all I knew. And Nanhu Park is pretty big. Normally I’d take a bus over since it’s not too far, but in this case, we decided to take a cab.

First I told him to take us to the park, but then he wanted to know which gate. I really had no idea, but thankfully, I have just enough Chinese to explain that we wanted to buy flowers. He understood and drove us right to the place and even pointed the direction we should walk to get there. Having even limited communication skills really makes this life so much easier. I’m not even sure we’d have found it otherwise.

I seriously can’t believe how huge, and awesome, and green this place is! I don’t know about you, but early Spring plants just make me so happy! I miss my yard and my grass a lot, and this was a little dose of home.

They have nearly any type of plant you could want. Potted, blooming cherry blossom trees, roses, azaleas, and plenty of others that I’d never seen before. From huge trees to teeny tiny baby plants. Most of the small pots run about $1.50 and the trees, as low as $20 USD.

They even have fish to go with your flowers. The ones for decoration, not for dinner.

After we browsed and shopped all afternoon, we ended up having to call another friend to come rescue us. We had so much stuff. That’s one of the best parts of being an expat. Friendships take on a whole new level because you have to depend on each other so much. No one has family nearby, so we become family for each other.

And it was a good thing she was available to come help. I don’t know how we’d have gotten home otherwise!

My living room window looks so much more cozy with that touch of green, don’t ya think?

Hope the ayi isn’t too annoyed she has more plants to nurse back to life after my brown thumb destroys them.

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