Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Udon noodles in Riyadh

So, I was in a pissy kind of mood in the car one day while the hubster was looking for a knife store. That sounds like the beginning of a really bad joke, but rest assured no one got hurt...this time. Ha ha, no no, it never came close to that, but it can just be frustrating to try to find specific locations in Riyadh, land of the streets-with-no-signs and buildings-with-no-numbers.

Being the great guy that he is, when we couldn't find the knife store, hubby tried his best to remember where he had last seen the elusive Asian grocery store. Even a lot of asians don't even know about it. It was like the Lochness Monster for a while in our conversations - you know, mysterious unconfirmed sightings, people thinking they've seen it but not remembering where it is, people denying its existence... He insisted that he once "discovered" it with his driver. As we drove around different sidestreets, I got more and more impatient with being "zero for two" on our mission and began to press him to go home. On the last turn, just as I was demanding that we all raise the white flag, lo and behold. The asian grocery store. Seriously folks, I'm not muslim, but this is what I imagine it might feel like to see Mecca for the first time. Don't get me wrong, it's not a nice looking store, it's just that I miss chinatown shopping in Toronto terribly, and it kills me some days to know that my apartment was walking distance to the best five dollar pho on the planet. And now, that five dollar pho is more than an ocean away.

Here is where I pause to fill you in on my secret obsession with Udon noodles. Again, not the beginning of a bad joke. I used to live above a great little japanese restaurant that I began eating at in 2003. It was a bit on the pricey side, and when I was a student, I used to pick the cheapest thing on their menu to eat for dinner as a reward of sorts - their beef udon noodles. So I associate udon noodles with times of contentment, and I've enjoyed them with so many people, including sharing them with my hubster-to-be on cold winter nights, while we would try to identify which poor pedestrian walking by looked the coldest.

To my complete and utter surprise, udon noodles appeared in the Carrefour near our house all of a sudden. I was overjoyed and initially bought insane stocks of them. But gradually as time wore on, I settled into buying more reasonable quantities at a time. And then one day, about 8 months later, they unceremoniously disappeared. The stockboys knew nothing. The manager knew nothing. They were just gone, and I was heartbroken.

Fast forward to about 3 months later, in the Asian grocery store. There's not a lot there, but freezers & fridges line one of their walls and they are fully stocked with frozen dumplings, edamame, red bean buns and scads of really decent kimchee. And just as we were about to cash out, hubster sauntered up to me with a frozen pack of udon noodles!!! It was like Christmas! Like the dilapitated supermarket version of Christmas! I was so excited that greedy old me went into hoarding mode and picked up loads of the stuff.

Needless to say, hubster had pretty much hit the emotional jackpot with his wife. My hero!

I do not know where to begin to describe where this place is. But we did manage to get the store owner's card, which says "Oriental Supermarket" on it. It's somewhere off Olaya street - down towards the bottom of the city, near Makkah. Here's the phone number on the card 050-793-1114. Good luck if you decide to go, and post back here if you manage to find it, especially if you can share some proper directions.


Tammy and Josh said...

Hi! My husband and I and our two little boys have been in Riyadh for a couple weeks now, and I just wanted to say I've really enjoyed your blog. I really like the advice about where to buy things, and I smile at your adventures of trying to find certain locations, because we experience the same!

Orchidthief said...

Hi Tammy & Josh! Thanks for stopping in and leaving a nice comment for me =)

Armor10 said...

"but it can just be frustrating to try to find specific locations in Riyadh, land of the streets-with-no-signs and buildings-with-no-numbers."

Yes, it can be, I finally made it over here(Been here three weeks now). I got my Paramedic with the Health Ministry last week, and I should be hitting the streets in an Ambulance soon. Some of the guys have been saying it takes forever to try and find someones house in an Emergency because there are no addresses. It's crazy, most of the time a person having a heart attack just meet's you on the street. I have been looking for the Pizza place and will trade my information of where the knife shop is for better directions there. Take care

aronchimera said...

hi nice blog,about the restaurant dont know ifyou already tried the oriental restaurant and lapaz restaurant here in sulaimania st. near riyadh military hospital..been here for two years but really haven't go out alot...anyway I've been wondering to ask if you have seen any "spyderco ladybug edition? been eying for that knife for almost 3mos now,thanks alot...take care..

angi said...

Hi! We are new to Riyadh, accustomed to oriental food, and would love to know where we could find Japanese, Thai spices and tofu!

Could you or your husband give some directions on how to find this oriental supermarket. I tried calling the number, but kept getting a response that the no. is not connected.

Appreciate any additional info ...

Petr said...

Well Four months in Riyadh and still cant find Wasabi or that elusive oriental food shop. Perhaps someone can leave GPS co-ordinates and ill type them into Google earth then I can Leave a photo for all to Find. The Pinoy market did just this so its easy to locate .

Petr said...

Wasabi in Riyadh,
Does anyone know any shop selling Wasabi. or for that matter any korean or north chinese food. Cant find true chinese spices either.

Mr T said...

24.69365977606241,46.69338253799663(한아름 Korean Market)