Oh, how I love you Asia Oriental food counter. With your pungent fishy odors, uncomfortable bar stools, over-crowded narrow eating space and disorganized inattentive service, you always put that cherry on top of my already rewarding Buenos Aires Barrio Chino shopping experience. No matter what I order when I hop up on that stool, I can be pretty damn confident it will be a solid Chinese food choice.
The biggest Chinese Supermarket in China Town, Asia Oriental is known for their extensive sawwwce aisles, fresh fish and seafood, pork-butchery galore, industrial Costco- sized packs of Asian goodies, imported product gems, the ever-sought out occasional appearance of okra and edamame, and of course the 10 seater Chineserific counter.There are no menus, just a list of items clearly displayed above the counter in Spanish and Chinese. Everything is made-to-order, so do your best to speak up loudly to get the cashier’s attention and hope he understood your order correctly. With ultra fresh ingredients, you can find all the Chinese food favorites (in Argentina) on the menu: soups, fried noodles, vegetables, fried rice, pork, beef, chicken dishes and more. Or you don’t even have to choose off the menu, gawk at the *real life* Asians eating massive bowls of noodly soups and rice noodly dishes, and just point.
A fideo fan favorite, and one of the cheapest things on the menu, the peanut sesame noodles never disappoint (just make sure to mix it up good before eating). While the choice in noodle type may not be the best due to the slightly mushy (overcooked) consistency, this simple plate of noodles in a sesame-peanut sauce does the trick every time. A cold and porky Barrio Chino day calls for a hot bowl of wonton soup. Cute lil’ wonton nugz floating in a sea of wonderfully seasoned, peppery, soul-warming broth. A must order every time.
Another must-order, chop suey de verduras aka mixed vegetables. The vegetables are bright, fresh, crisp with a mouth-dancing bean sprout and Chinese cabbage crunch in each bite. Give the vegetables some spicy company and smother it in the spicy sauce that already should be on the counter.
Since the butcher counter and seafood section is just feet away from the cooking station, it’s a safe bet to try most items on the menu. The shrimp fried regular noodles were pretty good, decently cooked shrimp (although not properly cleaned), the vegetable crunch presence, and slurp-able Chinesegreasy sauce, I’d suggest trying this dish with a wide rice noodle or these little rice diskcuties that look like water chestnuts. And I’d also suggest not ordering the ”iced tea” unless you are looking for a big glass of lukewarm cavity water.
Every time after I happily finish eating at Asia Oriental, I spot a bomb ass looking plate of food and suffer from a mad case of food envy. Most everything looks crazy and fresh eat-able. Ignore the opened legged market smell, in a country that lacks solid food lover’s food counters, this Asian supermarket shines ever so brightly.
Asia Oriental Supermarket
Mendoza 1661, Barrio Chino (Bajo Belgrano)
Average price: AR$40-50