The Urban Market Forage program got off to a great start on Tuesday, July 10th. Twelve people joined guide Jim Galvez and Viet Hoa owner Luke Le for a tour of the very large and incredibly stocked Viet Hoa market on Monona Drive.
First came the enormous bags of Jasmine rice. Then; banana flowers, various mint varieties, quail eggs, taro root, soft shell crab paste, pickled vegetables, crunchy canned crickets, whole frozen fish, durian ice cream, noodles of every shape and size, duck heads, chicken feet, coconut jam….the list goes on.
Our eyes were wide. Jim told us about his Filipino background and the items he grew up eating. Luke gave us a more comprehensive than expected explanation of practically every aisle and answered all our questions about how to cook with various ingredients. He talked about coming to the U.S. from Vietnam and his dream of opening a grocery store. Luke caters to many Asian families, but also to other neighbors in and around Monona and Madison. He stocks groceries primarily based on what his customers want, and well, his customers want quite the range of incredible foods. We were so grateful for their time and insights! After nearly 90 minutes, we grabbed baskets and sprinted around the store again to pick up items that had caught our eye and piqued our culinary interest.
By the end of all this, we were getting hungry! Five of us decided to continue the Vietnamese theme and head next door to the new Vietnamese restaurant, Kim’s Noodle.
At the restaurant, we tucked into spring rolls, banh mi, pho, bun, spicy salads, avocado smoothies and fresh coconut water. It was the perfect ending to an absolutely fascinating forage.