When I lived in Cleveland, Ohio, there was an Asian supermarket in the Asia Plaza at the corner of Payne Ave. and 30th street. For orientation, the highway is I-90, the street at the bottom of the picture is Superior and at the top is Chester. I bought some interesting tea at this store; it was the first place I bought a number of teas, including hojicha and genmaicha. While flying this summer, I changed in Cleveland and was able to photograph it:
The store has since moved, but is still in the same neighborhood. This photo brings back memories for me; I used to walk around the neighborhood pictured here. It doesn't look like much from the air, but this is the heart of Cleveland's Chinatown, and there are a lot of great places scattered about, including a few places to buy decent tea, and some fabulous Cantonese restaurants, serving dim sum.
This Chinatown was very important in the development of my palate; it was the first place I ate really good and really authentic Chinese food on a regular basis. I tried a whole bunch of new types of vegetables, mushrooms, spices, new combinations of things. I fell in love with Cantonese-style noodle soups and casseroles...so different from the fare served in most Americanized Chinese restaurants. Most importantly, I began to grasp the true richness of Asian culinary traditions, and to see the degree to which these traditions have been cheapened and made into a mass, uniform culture in America. But it also made me feel hopeful...Chinese food can taste like this? It was similar to the awakening I had when trying my first cup of green high-mountain oolong from Taiwan...tea can taste like this?
One of my favorite restaurants is Li Wah; it's still there, right in the plaza circled on the map. Other favorites places to eat in the neighborhood include Bo Loong, and Tom's Seafood Restaurant. I think they're both still there; some of my other favorite places have since closed, but others have opened up. Cleveland is a great city and I often miss living there, especially when I'm starting to get hungry.