If you're a longtime shopper at Asiana Market in Mesa, you've probably noticed that the popular Korean grocery store has moved to a bigger location just across the street.
The newly expanded Asiana Market opened inside the Dobson Plaza, near the intersection of Dobson Road and Southern Avenue, in December. It boasts an extensive selection of Korean prepared foods, an impressive seafood department, and a sprawling food court that's a worthy destination on its own.
The first thing you'll notice about the new Asiana Market is the food court near the entrance, which is home to metro Phoenix's first location of Tous Les Jours, a popular French-Asian bakery cafe chain that has more than 1,500 locations around the world, including more than 40 in the U.S.
The bakery chain, which is headquartered in South Korea, is known for its extensive and unique assortment of sweet and savory pastries, cakes, pies, breads, and other baked goods. Items are scratch-baked on-site, and many of the baked goods fuse French technique with Asian flavors.
Grab a pair of tongs, an aluminum tray, and prepare to carb-load, because there's bound to be something here that catches your eye.
On a recent visit, there were beautifully arrayed piles of traditional French pastries like croissants, palmiers, and pain aux raisins. Savory pastries included sausage and frank rolls, and ham and tomato galettes.
Specialty items include rice dough "chewy sticks," flavored with ingredients like green tea and citron; twisty Korean doughnuts; and strawberry cream soboro, a streusel-topped cream puff filled with strawberries.
The bakery has a grab-and-go boulangerie stocked with packaged breads, including fluffy loaves of pan bread, and packaged sweet buns with flavors like red bean and black sesame.
There's also an impressive bakery case filled with Instagram-friendly tarts, pies, and cakes. Some of the unique cakes I saw on a recent visit included a whimsical "bird" cake and a heart-shaped vanilla-chocolate mousse cake.
Apart from delicious-looking baked goods, Tous Les Jours also has a full coffee and drink menu. There's plenty of seating for enjoying a quick bite and coffee before or after your shopping trip.
Tous Les Jours has dessert covered, but if you're looking for a hot meal, there's also a promising lunch and dinner scene taking shape at the food court.
Paik's Noodles, a popular Chinese-Korean chain noodle shop affiliated with Korean celebrity chef Baek Jong Won, offers popular eats like bowls of jajangmyeon, or noodles with black bean sauce.
Another restaurant, Asiana Kitchen Tofu & Grill, recently debuted at the food court. Asiana Kitchen offers a menu of popular Korean dishes like bulgogi, mandu dumplings, soups, and stir-fries.
It's worth stopping by Asiana Market just to check out the food court, but you probably came to do a little shopping too. The new Asiana is easy to navigate, thanks to wide, well-organized aisles, which are stocked with specialty food items from across Asia.
With more shelf space, the selection of prepared Korean food items is better than ever. You'll find grab-and-go bulgogi lunch plates, kimchi, and all manner of packaged banchan.
Seafood lovers will want to check out Asiana Market's expanded seafood department, which features a live lobster tank and a healthy selection of fresh fish on ice.
The produce department isn't quite as big as some of the larger Asian supermarkets along Dobson Road, but it's still a good spot for harder-to-find fresh veggies and herbs.
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Even if you don't live in the East Valley, a visit to the new Asiana Market is well worth the drive. You can easily make a whole afternoon out of browsing the pastry cases at Tous Les Jours, grabbing lunch at the food court, and exploring the wide, well-lit aisles of Asiana Market.
This might not be the biggest Asian supermarket in the East Valley, but it's already one of the liveliest one-stop shops on Dobson Road.
Asiana Market, 1135 South Dobson Road, Mesa; 480-833-3077.
Open daily 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.