Hong Kong food Market New Orleans

Michael Democker / The Times-Picayune
Inside the Hong Kong Food Market, a live crab eyes shoppers from inside his huge tank. The market features a huge display of live crabs, lobsters, and fish.

Globe-trotting is not required for embarking on culinary adventures in the New Orleans area, where ethnic markets and big-box grocery stores alike stock worldly flavors just waiting to be discovered.

Enter thet Hong Kong Food Market on the West Bank, and you'll feel like you've traveled to Asia. In Metairie, International Market has everything you need to explore the vast world of Indian cuisine. Or you can take a worldly food journey by steering your shopping cart down the international-foods aisles you've always wanted to explore at Dorignac's, Rouse's, Winn-Dixie, Zuppardo's or your favorite neighborhood grocery store. Browse and break out of your recipe box to find something different for dinner. Here are a few stops for your international journey:

Hong Kong Food Market, 925 Behrman Highway, Terrytown, 504.394.7075. It's big. In fact, it's the centerpiece of a large, modern shopping center. With a fresh produce section bigger than those in many chain supermarkets, as well as an extensive display of live fish tanks, fresh and frozen fish and seafood, the market has become a must-visit destination for local chefs and foodies. Vietnamese po-boys, bahn mi, are made fresh for takeout; there are now takeout salads, desserts and more from, among other places, Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery in eastern New Orleans. The housewares selection is extensive, too.

There are many other ethnic markets scattered around the West Bank and in Metairie and Kenner.

Norma's Sweets Bakery, 3221 Georgia Ave., 504.467.4309. This charming Latin bakery a block off Williams Blvd. has a few groceries, but its focus is on sweet pan dulce, pretty cakes, tres leches, flan and the traditional football-shaped bolillos, a few doughnuts and much more.

Kased Brothers Halal Meats, 3804-D Williams Blvd., 504.468.1950. Halal means acceptable under Muslim dietary law, and Kased Brothers has an array of fresh lamb, goat and veal, butthe store has much to offer beyond the meat case. Look for Middle Eastern cheeses, including fetas of all kinds, oils, olives, rices, housewares, clothing and more, including frozen Cajun-style Halal Hot Links, from Jean-Batiste Foods of Lafayette.

Brazil Connection, 4215 Williams Blvd., 504.469.5662. The tiny family-run store specializes in Brazilian goods, including soccer jerseys and a small food section.

JCP La Placita, 3814 Williams Blvd. No. 3. This store is representative of several other small Latino markets in the area, carrying an array of fresh vegetables and fruits; boots, pinatas, canned goods and some frozen food. Most Latino markets have freezer cases with paletas, Latin American ice pops made of fruit. (The coconut is especially delicious.)

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