Where do we begin? Yasha has one of the most extensive inventories of Eastern European and Russian delicacies this side of Uzbekistan. You name it, Yasha's got it -- dried and salted, pickled, marinated and sauced fish of what seem like a thousand and one species (like, what is a sprat, anyway?), fresh pickled tomatoes and cucumbers, cheeses made from cow, goat and sheep milk (including kashkaval, a tangy sheep's milk cheese from Bulgaria), dumplings with potato, cheese, meat or sour cabbage filling, Russian pastries, cookies and candies, jams and jellies, teas and coffees -- plus fancy imported china and tea glasses to eat and drink them from. And good luck trying to choose from Yasha's army of sausages and salami (you have to try the gypsy sausage, a peppery, salami-like sausage that's addictive). Looking for ikra, better known to non-Russians as eggplant caviar? Ajvar (roasted red pepper dip/sauce)? How about guvetch (Bulgarian lamb ragout) or imam bayeldi (Russian eggplant and tomato appetizer)? They're all here. And to wash everything down, Yasha graciously offers a dizzying selection of esoteric wines and spirits from Russia, Georgia, Romania and Bulgaria, among other Eastern producers.
It may not be the streets of Saigon, but this intersection is pho-king great.
If Kim Jong-il ever visited the Valley and wanted to feel at home, this corner in Mesa would be the place to go.
We quickly filled up an entire shopping cart with primo olive oils from Lebanon and Turkey, halvah with pistachios, Turkish Delight candy we haven't seen since Istanbul, grape leaves for making sarma, phyllo dough, kadaifi (a sort of hairy version of phyllo), and labne, a Lebanese cream-cheese-like spread made from yogurt that is irresistible when mixed with mint, sumac, parsley, salt and olive oil and slathered on fresh pita. The cheese and pastries sections alone are worth a trip to Baiz -- how many places offer French, Bulgarian, Greek and Danish feta, along with at least 10 different types of marinated olives? And for those of the Muslim persuasion, this is the place to get halal meats, poultry and other food prepared in accordance with Islamic din.