GreatWall Supermarket — an international grocer with a handful of stores in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic — has opened its first outlet here, right in the thick of things at 2300 Pleasant Hill Road near Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth. It’s just a stone’s throw from the Gwinnett International Farmers Market and the original Atlanta-area Super H Mart. The other two markets offer international foods from a Korean baseline perspective; GreatWall is Chinese, though a full selection of Asian and Latin ingredients are available. If you can read Chinese, take a look at the Web site.
I spent an afternoon walking around and making mental notes for future visits. Set in a former Target, it seems just as bright and clean as Super H Mart, if a bit more stark and less fancy. There are also some wild specials: $6 for a crate of mangoes and 88 cents a pound for catfish to name just a couple.
There are also a handful of carryout restaurants in the food court along the side — two Chinese places, a Korean one (that was closed when I visited), a Vietnamese pho place and a bakery. According to chatter on Yelp, you can buy fish or lobsters in the market and bring it to the restaurant called Top Chef Kitchen to have it prepared for a small price.
Here’s a quick tour of what I saw (and ate) on my visit:
A heap of fresh rambutans in the produce aisle. I fell for this lychee-like fruit years ago in Thailand. Only lately have Hawaiian rambutans come into the market. You peel the thick, spiny skin and eat the juicy, tart/sweet flesh inside.
Football-sized jackfruit. The little yellowy-orange slips of flesh inside are sweet, slippery and taste a bit like pear-meets-banana-meets-cheese, but the work to extract them is painstaking. I had some at a party recently, and the hostess entertained us with tales of jackfruit extraction.
A really great fish department. I perhaps didn’t get the best snapshot to illustrate this, but there’s all kinds of whole, filleted and frozen fish. The ones with eyes look impeccably fresh.
An impressive meat counter manned by Latino butchers and featuring any kind of offal you could want.
A Café du Monde display so ginormous you can practically hear strains of “When the Saints Come Marching In.”
A Cantonese barbecue counter. Mmm…I’m getting hungry.
I decided to get lunch at the food court counter called, simply, Chinese Cuisine. For $5.99, you can choose any three of the dozens of dishes on display, served with rice and soup.
There was everything from bitter melon, to fried chicken, whole shrimp and clams in black bean sauce. The lady behind the counter got a little irritated with me asking so many questions and kept pointing to one pan of grilled short ribs, saying, “It’s BEEF.”
I ended up with some Chinese broccoli topped with crispy fried shallots and red peppers; soft and tasty pork/vegetable meatballs, and a fantastic stir fry of smoked tofu, pork and medium-hot green peppers. Urp, urp, urp. Good stuff.