Every now and then you need to break up your routine, step outside of your comfort zone and look beyond your narrow horizon.
I recommend you follow this advice the next time you go grocery shopping. Instead of automatically going to, say, Publix, try something different. And I don’t mean Winn-Dixie or Lucky’s. I mean something like Lotte Plaza Market.
Lotte is a small chain of 10 Asian markets out of Maryland and Virginia, of all places. Earlier this year an Orlando location, the first in Florida, opened near the corner of John Young Parkway and West Colonial Drive.
At first glance, the market is set up like any other supermarket, with aisles of canned and dry goods, a meat and seafood department and a produce section.
You’ll find familiar things like eggplant, but look closer and you’ll also see Thai eggplant. Or Thai okra. Or Indian bitter melon.
And in the seafood department you’re likely to find more whole fish than you would at your regular market. At Lotte, customers select the fish they want and then order how to have it presented by number.
And if you’re not sure how to cook Indian bitter lemon or what to do with dried anchovies, you can finish your stroll through the market with a stop at the Asian food court.
There aren’t a lot of vendors but the choices are intriguing.
I had the Lotte Market Pancake, the Korean egg based omelet-like device with scallions.
From Seoul Soon Tofu I had the Soft Tofu with Mackerel, a bubbling hot pot of tofu cubes with onions, chilies and and egg. I somehow thought the fish would be incorporated into the stew but instead it was served simply on the side. Not as exciting that way but it was all good. And the hot pot came with a few traditional sides, including the necessary kimchi.
Once you’ve ordered and paid for your food, you can grab a seat at one of the many tables set up for diners.
While you’re sitting there enjoying your food, search Google for recipes that call for frozen durian.
Lotte Plaza Market is at 3191 W. Colonial Drive, Orlando. It is open daily. The phone number is 407-499-1115.