The Spot: Yasha From Russia, Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
What We Bought: There isn't a lot in the way of authentic Russian cuisine in Phoenix, but you don't have to be intimidated walking into Yasha From Russia for the first time. The friendly, helpful staff is there to explain your curiosities away. The full deli and bakery section of freshly made and imported goods is stocked with exotically flavored cakes, Russian potato salad and more. We're partial to the rugalah or rugelach, a part-cookie, part-strudel pastry common in Eastern Europe and sold fresh at Yasha's for $6.99 per pound.
The market also has one of the largest selections of eggplant-based condiments we think we've ever seen. We decided to try out the ikra spead at $3.59 per jar, though there were at least six other preparation options for jarred eggplant. One of our other favorite sections in the store goes to the beer fridge, which sells pretty much every Russian and Eastern European beer you can think of with most bottles priced at $2.69.
What We Skipped: While we love the deli case at Yasha, some of its contents are just plain scary. Jelled tongue loaf, hot smoked eel and white headcheese all didn't make their way into our shopping cart. We'll stick with mortadella for now. Jars of borscht on sale for $1.99 and a wide selection of jarred mushrooms also didn't make the cut this week, especially since Yasha has its own borscht for sale.
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What We're Still Lusting Over: It's pretty easy to get lost in a sea of language confusion at Yasha, since most of the goods are labeled in only Russian, but, like a beacon of hope, we spotted the cookie aisle. Normally we wouldn't go for packaged cookies with a well-equipped bakery case in sight. However, the little ornately designed varieties of shortbread caught our eyes immediately. We're going to come back around Christmas and stock up for some competitive gingerbread (or shortbread) house making. We're also still craving the jar of jellied quince, a hard tart fruit that is actually kind of difficult to find in conventional supermarkets. Whether we're into it or not, Yasha from Russian has so many unique wares that its worth a stop in just to see what its all about.