The wait is finally over.
Santa Fe’s Asian Market opens Saturday on St. Michael’s Drive, nearly four months after owner David Thianhlun first teased local foodies with its red signage at St. Michael’s Village West mall.
The buzz was instantaneous when Thianhlun posted the Saturday opening date late Wednesday on the Santa Fe Foodies Facebook page, generating more than 400 likes by 8 a.m. Thursday.
“Looks like all the SF Foodies are going to smash the store this weekend!” one person posted in a comment, summing up the spirit of Santa Fe Asian Market enthusiasts.
Besides Talin Market, which operated a location in Santa Fe for several years nearly a decade ago, this is the city’s premier Asian market in recent times.
“It’s more than my expectations, but I expected it at the same time,” Thianhlun said of the outpouring of community support.
Thianhlun’s parents had a grocery store in their native Myanmar a long time ago, and in 2016 his mother and stepfather tried to start an Asian market in Midland, Texas, but it was unsuccessful. Thainlun and her mother have since 2018 operated Sushi Avenue inside Smith’s Marketplace in Los Alamos.
The Santa Fe Asian Market is a work in progress, partly because the merchandise is based on what Thianhlun could get from vendors, and partly because he welcomes and encourages customers to leave suggestions for wanted items.
“I will do my best to find what a customer wants,” Thianhlun said. “I will take suggestions. I’ll have a form where people can write whatever they want and the brand, and I’ll find it for them.
The market has a top-loading freezer full of chickens with legs attached for anyone with a passion for chicken feet recipes. Six packs of quail are in the same freezer.
The produce section offers Thai versions of red and green chili, as well as tiny Thai bananas and eggplant, as well as mango, papaya, jackfruit, taro, yucca root and brown coconut.
The six-door upright commercial freezer offers an abundant selection of frozen seafood, durian, fishcakes, puffed tofu, cuttlefish balls and whole cooked snails.
“Golden pomfret is the best,” Thianhlun said of her favorite item in the store. “The second is the quail.”
The store has no alcohol but a wide selection of Asian soft drinks.
“Roasted coconut juice is my favorite,” Thianhlun said.
You can get kimchi by the gallon and sardines in the familiar flat crates or in small boxes.
There is a row of jellies and candies and a row of cooking and dining utensils.
Green tea and Asian coffee get a fair share of storage space, and roasted seaweed has a place.
The market is well stocked with packaged cake biscuits, a hard, dry biscuit.
“We use them for breakfast with coffee,” Thianhlun said. “I never find it in any American grocery store.”
The store offers packaged seasonings, miso soup base, satay seasoning mix, bread and pasta mix as well as fish, oyster, bean and plum sauces and large containers of oil of sesame.
“We’re going to have take-out sushi,” Tianhlun said.