Viet Hoa Plaza provides fresh meat and produce, an assortment of Asian food products and kitchenware that could make for extraordinary gifts. Located at 1051 W. Argyle St., the Oriental grocery store offers a range of reasonably priced products from Vietnam, China, Japan and Korea, as well as items from Mexico, the Middle East and Jamaica.
Along with more traditional poultry and vegetables, some rare finds include milkfish (the national fish of the Philippines), rambutan (an exotic fruit of Southeast Asia) and durian (one of the smelliest fruits in the world).
In one half of the store, customers can find herbal teas, traditional spices, imported sauces, prime seasonings and, most importantly, Pocky.
Separated from the dry food aisles by an open doorway is the meat and produce section. Customers who are easily made queasy should avoid this area – the ice buckets filled with severed heads and limbs don’t leave much to the imagination.
With a collection of fish most stores don’t carry, Viet Hoa can make Chicagoans feel like they live on the coast.
While the specialized products already set Viet Hoa apart from other markets, its extensive collection of ornate plates and bowls make it even more worth a visit. Look for the small bowls painted with cat faces – for under four bucks, they’re too cute to pass up. To make sure your new set of dishes can be used well, take home a bag of rice that weighs half as much as you do.
The name “Viet Hoa” translates to “flower” in Vietnamese, but the store isn’t delicate when it comes to policy. There are no refunds, returns or exchanges, with the exception of faulty rice cookers, and thermos and hot pots. Cashiers do not accept checks.
However, the market’s private parking lot for customers and convenient location just steps away from the Argyle Red Line stop balance out its strict rules.
For shoppers who would like to expand their own palates or surprise dinner guests with authentic foods that are hard to find elsewhere, Viet Hoa is the place to go.