Shopping For Rice

Years ago, shopping for rice in the U.S. was pretty straightforward, as there was not much to choose from.  Usually, you had a pick of Calrose — the stickier sort we think of when eating Japanese food — Thai Jasmine, or Texas Long Grain.

That is no longer the case, and rice, in an array of choices — sold in 25 lb or 50 lb sacks — are now sold at most Asian markets or Filipino stores.  The photo below is from the rice section aisle at the Filipino chain supermarket, Seafood City.

Seattle location of Filipino supermarket chain Seafood City

So far, Seafood City has 19 locations in California, 4 in Nevada and a new store in the Seattle Area.

The original Seafood City was established over 20 years ago with the opening of its first store in San Diego.

They bill themselves as a “home away from home” for Filipinos and Asians in the United States.

The larger stores also have Filipino restaurants or tropical bakeries and dessert shops nearby, or within the strip mall area of the supermarket.

The Seafood City Supermarket I visited in Milipitas, California has well known, Philippine-based restaurants such as Goldilocks, Max’s of Manila and Chow King.

There were also Filipino cafes, a Valerio’s Tropical Bakery (famous here in the San Francisco Bay area for their Pandesal and “merienda” or snack items) and a Filipino Desserts Plus, which is new to Northern California (they have 3 stores in the San Diego area).

If you are looking to buy rice and are not near an Asian or Filipino supermarket, your mainstream type grocery store will still have several options (and sizes) available.  Just look in the Asian / Mexican Food or Ethnic Food aisle, and you will usually see a variety of rice to choose from — the photo below from the chain store, Save Mart.

rice is located in the Mexican & Asian food aisle at chain store Save Mart

Rice is also sold in bulk at markets like Whole Foods, along side other grains.

rice sold in bulk, via dispensers at Whole Foods Market

The rice choices locally include California “sushi” rice, brown California basmati rice, jasmine rice, sweet brown, and white arborio rice.

rice sold in bulk, via dispensers at Whole Foods Market

The rice we buy for our family here in the U.S. is usually the Milagrosa or Thai Jasmine type — fairly easy to find at local stores, and even available in 25 or 50 pound sacks at most Costco stores.

Shopping for Rice at a Western Style, Philippine Grocery Store

It is interesting to see the opening of new supermarkets in California, targeted to the ever-growing Filipino and Asian-American population here.

At the same time, there are American or Western Style malls and grocery stores opening up in far-flung provinces and places in the Philippines.

It is just part of modern migration trends and much more diverse, global communities living….well, everywhere!

In the Philippines, these new, Western style grocery stores — even outside major metropolitan areas — also serve  the needs of foreigners and Filipino-Americans retiring and/or deciding to move and live in the Philippines, and perhaps looking for the same, familiar, grocery stores from years living in the U.S. or abroad.

While in the Philippines, we went shopping for rice that our Mother might like, similar to the Thai Jasmine variety, sold here in the U.S.   A new Western style mall about an hour and a half drive from our Mother’s home, had just opened, and we went to check it out. There was a new grocery store inside the mall, and we were able to buy pretty much anything we needed and things you would find as a “staple” here in the U.S.

In particular, we were happy to find yogurt, and a nice selection of cheese, which was not so common just a few years ago, and non-existent there when we were growing up.

Rice Varieties and Pricing at a Western Style, Philippine Grocery Store

However, the rice varieties at this new grocery store —  though also sold in large sacks — were limited to Dinorado, Well-Milled, Sinandomeng or Whole Grain.

Dinorado is a popular, traditional aromatic variety of rice.  Sometimes, unscrupulous sellers will pass off lower quality rice as higher quality, and more expensive varieties like Dinorado.

Hopefully, that is not the case with these sacks of rice sold at the new and shiny grocery store.

We will check it out again during our next trip to see if they have more rice choices.  We also heard a new mall has opened just minutes away from our Mother’s place…so perhaps we do not need to drive far to get those U.S. style pantry basics.

Photo Source: IRRI

For more about rice — a staple food for more than 3 billion people who eat it every day — visit the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) website, here, or click on the bowl of rice photo.

Also, more rice articles are available in the “Rice, Rice and more Rice” Category.

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