A peek into the world of housewares at any local ethnic market is a must. From cupboard essentials to new kitchen finds, there’s something for everyone.

By Jacklyn Tran
August 10, 2016

Seattle is blessed with a diversity of cultures that make for a unique blend of, well, everything. A trip to some of the local markets provides a glimpse of just that, with products that extend far above anything that can be found down the international aisle of the standard supermarket. Beyond the groceries, however, often lies an easily overlooked aisle (or two) jam packed with home goods that’ll have you wishing you had room for them all…

Hung Long Asian Market

In White Center, Hung Long Asian Market (9988 15th Ave SW) is one of the great Asian markets of the neighborhood. Although known for their fresh fruit and vegetables, the kitchenware section alone is worthy of a visit. Woks, pots, and pans are haphazardly piled in a row. Even still, a nice wok or large soup pot is easy to find for an unbelievable price tag of under $20. It’s enough to inspire a quick stir fry, a tossing together of delicious fried rice, or a homemade pot of pho, especially with all the ingredients at your fingertips.

Ceramic bowls at Hung Long. Photo: Jacklyn Tran

Ceramic bowls at Hung Long. Photo: Jacklyn Tran

A perfect complement to said future pot or pan or wok of goodness, are the bowls of all sizes and patterns that line the adjacent wall. Vibrant prints and bright colors are charming characteristics of each budget friendly, ceramic find. Shelves near the registers display a bevy of wood and bamboo serving utensils. Bamboo utensils in particular are lightweight, sturdy and environmentally friendly! They’re also unbeatable, priced at less than $5.

Amy’s Merkato

A trip to Amy’s Merkato (2922 E Cherry Street) in the Central District may change the way you look at a home-brewed cup of joe. At this Ethiopian market, imported sundries such as wine, spices, kitchenware and house-made injera are always stocked. Owner, Filli Abdulkdra, knowledgeably will chat coffee anytime. Abdulkdra drinks up to 10 cups a day after all, so he may have an opinion or two about how to best prepare it. “The first coffee was found in Ethiopia,” he proudly shares, “in the area they call Kaffa, that’s why they call it coffee.” From imported, raw Sidamo coffee beans, to personal roasters, to traditional clay jebena pots and coffee cups, Amy’s Merkato has it all. Abdulkdra happily explains how to roast your own beans, adding, “Once you start roasting your own, you’re going to love it! You won’t drink it any other way when you do it this way.” 

Ethiopian coffee beans at Amy's Merkato. Photo: Jacklyn Tran

Ethiopian coffee beans at Amy’s Merkato. Photo: Jacklyn Tran

While marveling at the selection of beautifully crafted jebena, Adbulkadra filled us in on news of their move at the end of August, when they will pack up their shop of 17 years for a new location at 5710 Rainier Avenue South. In addition to continuing to be “the very best Ethiopian market it town” as one customer described it, they will also be adding a coffee shop in the new location where customers will be enticed by the aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans and will be able to savor in the exquisite flavors of traditional Ethiopian coffee. We cannot wait to see it!

Viet Wah Supermarket

From hot deli food, to baked goods, seasonings of all kinds to meat and seafood, Viet Wah Supermarket (1032 S Jackson St) has been providing it all since 1981. Founder Duc Tran arrived in America as a Chinese-Vietnamese refugee with just the clothes on his back. With a desire in his heart to serve the growing Chinese-Vietnamese community and a steadfast vision, a tiny grocery store was opened. Today, that tiny store has grown into two major supermarkets serving the greater Seattle area along with a warehouse distribution center.

Just like every other section of the International District location of Viet Wah, the large housewares area is overflowing with goodies of all kinds. From trivets to steamer baskets, hot pots to Vietnamese coffee filters, chopsticks to kitchen knives, mandolin slicers to thermoses, the list goes on and on.

Where does one begin among all this wonder? Rice cookers range from basic to multi-functioning and are universally high quality. Two- and three-tier bento boxes are the perfect solution for allowing variety in weekly lunches. For kid lunches, onigiri rice molds in the shape of hearts, stars, and animals are too cute to pass up. Fun and creative, these molds is sure to be a favorite for the little ones. Training chopsticks for tots are also on hand for those learning the principles of these utensils, and so much more!