A Dong Supermarket
Sheild Street Plaza
West Hartford, CT

Every major city sports an Asian market. Usually that market consists of three or four rows of old boxed products and soy sauces crammed together in an attempt to fit as much product as possible into a inadequate space. Maybe, if you're lucky, there will be some fresh vegetables and a couple of brands of rice available as well.

That's what I was expecting when I first came upon A Dong Supermarket. However, when Janet and I walked through the doors, we knew that we weren't in White Bread West Hartford anymore.

First off, before I tell you anything about the store itself, I have to advise you: if you have a weak stomach or are not used to the smell of a typical Chinatown market, be prepared! The overpowering smell of fish, durian (a pungent fruit) and vinegar can bring tears to your eyes. That said, if you can get past the smell, you will be treated to a truly unique shopping experience.

A Dong is truly a supermarket, sporting 10 rows of products spanning from Vietnamese to Japanese and encompassing everything in between; a large selection of meats, fish and fresh Asian vegetables; two rows of pots, pans and housewares; and a section dedicated to art, pottery and religious icons. We were there for almost an hour and were completely overwhelmed with the selection. In this one store, you can find: a Malaysian durian, Japanese Pocky and Kasugai Gummy candies, a silver Thai rice bowl, 8 or 9 types of commercial grade woks, forty different chili sauces, fifteen soy sauces, eight fish sauces(Vietnamese and Thai), hundreds of different types of noodles as well as every other asian specialty item that you could ever want.

A Dong is a massive place... larger than any Asian grocery store that I have ever seen before. It puts similar markets in New York, San Francisco and Boston to shame. It truly is one of the cultural gems of the Hartford area.

The sad thing is that most West Hartford residents will never step foot inside.