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88 Marketplace – Huge New (Aug 2020) Chinatown Grocery Store

88 Marketplace – Huge New (Aug 2020) Chinatown Grocery Store
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  • 88 Marketplace – Huge New (Aug 2020) Chinatown Grocery Store

    Post #1 - November 17th, 2020, 6:05 pm
    Post #1 - November 17th, 2020, 6:05 pm Post #1 - November 17th, 2020, 6:05 pm
    On August 29 in another thread marothisu wrote:88 Marketplace had its grand opening yesterday - a 80,000 sq ft Chinese market that is the largest in the Midwest and might be one of the largest in the US. They have a food court there too with Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese, etc food although it's unclear if that opened yet. I believe they have food from not just China here too as well as a lot of other products from all over Asia including alcohol. This is part of the new, huge 300,000 square foot Jefferson Square (aka Tianyi Square) development. Keep in mind that the average supermarket in America is around 40,000 sq ft - this is much larger.

    I wrote Chinatown in the title, but it's actually in East Pilsen, just across the river from Chinatown (heading west on Cermak, make a 90° right turn on the first street past the river and you're there). A recent visit, nearly three months after the grand opening, found the huge store not in final form, but very much worth a trip. It occupies the second floor so its vastness is not apparent from the street. This photo shows only the south end of the complex.

    Image

    At the top of the escalator a gentleman scans your wrist temperature and welcomes you to the store. Safety precautions and customer service seem to be high priorities, unfortunately not the case with too many Chinatown markets.

    Image

    It's difficult to convey the scale of the place. This photo was taken well into the store, past the checkout lines, past the large snack food section, past the produce. You can see a tiny bit of the large frozen food department (so many dumplings…) on the right. At the very far end, under the Chinese characters for 'meat,' you can barely make out the aquaria of the fish department.

    Image

    Here's a closer shot of the tanks. I won't discuss the breadth of their offerings (plenty of photos on their Facebook page), but this should hint at the store's ambitions. At least a dozen live species were available, including shrimp, Dungeness crab, and some flatfish.

    Image

    An hour was barely enough time to scratch the surface. I probably spent a full ten minutes in the vinegar section (no other Asian store in Chicago comes close). I should mention 88's focus is solidly Chinese, though some products of other countries can be found. The food court is not open and certain areas aren't yet fully stocked (for example, I didn't see any alcohol, aside from some cooking wine). But it's already a truly great store and will surely get even better.

    88 Marketplace
    2105 S Jefferson St
    Chicago IL
    312-846-6962
    https://www.facebook.com/88MarketplaceChicago/
  • Post #2 - November 17th, 2020, 8:28 pm
    Post #2 - November 17th, 2020, 8:28 pm Post #2 - November 17th, 2020, 8:28 pm
    The most important question - what about parking?
    i used to milk cows
  • Post #3 - November 17th, 2020, 8:52 pm
    Post #3 - November 17th, 2020, 8:52 pm Post #3 - November 17th, 2020, 8:52 pm
    teatpuller wrote:The most important question - what about parking?

    There's a large free lot directly across the street. When you're finished shopping, the greeter/temperature taker hooks your cart to the escalator for the trip to ground level. Once you've transferred your bags to your car, a parking lot attendant runs over to take the cart.
  • Post #4 - November 18th, 2020, 6:43 am
    Post #4 - November 18th, 2020, 6:43 am Post #4 - November 18th, 2020, 6:43 am
    Alas, a visit is not in the cards for the foreseeable future!
    -Richard
  • Post #5 - April 3rd, 2021, 8:41 am
    Post #5 - April 3rd, 2021, 8:41 am Post #5 - April 3rd, 2021, 8:41 am
    I get to go for the first time today. I'm pretty freakin giddy!

    Are there any prepared snacks that anyone can vouch for?

    I'm bringing a cooler and everything. This is gonna be a whole thing.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #6 - April 3rd, 2021, 9:54 am
    Post #6 - April 3rd, 2021, 9:54 am Post #6 - April 3rd, 2021, 9:54 am
    seebee wrote:I get to go for the first time today. I'm pretty freakin giddy!

    Are there any prepared snacks that anyone can vouch for?

    I'm bringing a cooler and everything. This is gonna be a whole thing.

    Have fun! I might be there later today too. As of two weeks ago, the food court was only getting started. I'm probably missing something, but I recall only three stalls on the second level in the store. Chiu Quon has a branch selling pre-bagged buns, tarts, etc. Honestly, I think most of their stuff is serviceable but not anything special. There's a sushi place that looks pretty decent and seems popular. A smoothie and tea stall opened recently. Based only on samples of a fruit smoothie and genmai cha, I'd say it looks very promising. From what little I've seen (I've been trying to get in and out fairly quickly) this part of the store is currently not a big reason to visit.

    Don't miss the large section of packaged snack foods near the cash registers. Some crazy stuff there. I have a feeling you'll love it. A couple weeks ago I got a bag of vegetarian ma-la tripe.

    The prepared food action seems to be at the sit-down restaurants on the first floor (to your left as you head to the escalator). I haven't explored these at all, but they smell terrific and seem popular.
  • Post #7 - April 3rd, 2021, 10:29 am
    Post #7 - April 3rd, 2021, 10:29 am Post #7 - April 3rd, 2021, 10:29 am
    There is an outpost of BBQ King there.
    "I live on good soup, not on fine words." -Moliere
  • Post #8 - April 3rd, 2021, 4:52 pm
    Post #8 - April 3rd, 2021, 4:52 pm Post #8 - April 3rd, 2021, 4:52 pm
    Watermelon lime habanero smoothie at the stand was damn fine.

    I should expand...
    I walked in and saw the smoothie flavors menu, and as soon as I saw "watermelon, lime, habanero," I turned to the 7 other ppl I walked in with and said, "I'm not sure if anyone else wants anything, but there's no way I'm not getting that." I'd liken it to something as good as you'd get from the Aguas Frescas option at La Chaparrita. If they didn't also have dragonfruit/vanilla on the menu, I'd say there's no chance I wouldn't HAVE to get the watermelon habanero next visit. Maybe I was just romanced into thinking it was so damn good because I was happy to be out in public and in a new store on a sunny, warm day, but, I kinda think it might be fantastic.

    The store was great, I just wish it had few more Asian nationalities represented. I was hoping to find some Thai Curry pastes in a tin, possibly just didn't find them. Great selection of ramen-ish noodle varieties. Loaded up. I also think I bought at least 3 different kinds on chili oil, and they had plenty more. Lots of fresh noodles as well. I only spent an hour or so, and didn't even get to see the food stalls on the 2nd floor, but the other ppl I was there with did. I spent a LOT of time sifting through the noodles and sauce jars.

    I did grab a menu from the hot-pot place on the first floor, and when we walked in, everyone said that the place smelled fantastic. This place definitely deserves more investigation as it grows, and I'll be happy to do my part. I think they should devote a few aisles to a few specific Asian nationalities tho. They definitely have the space.

    That watermelon, habanero, lime smoothie tho- yup.
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #9 - April 4th, 2021, 7:21 am
    Post #9 - April 4th, 2021, 7:21 am Post #9 - April 4th, 2021, 7:21 am
    bw77 wrote:There is an outpost of BBQ King there.

    Yes, thank you! And just north of BBQ King is Dama, with a small Korean-ish menu. I don't think it was open yesterday.

    seebee wrote:The store was great, I just wish it had few more Asian nationalities represented. I was hoping to find some Thai Curry pastes in a tin, possibly just didn't find them.

    Happy to hear you liked the store (hard not to). Though they don't carry much Thai food they do have a selection of Maesri curry pastes, both small cans and larger tubs. Not far from the chili oil aisle (maybe one aisle north?), halfway down the aisle, north side, about eye level. I actually bought a tub yesterday.

    seebee wrote:That watermelon, habanero, lime smoothie tho- yup.

    Crop Culture is the name of the place. Smoothie and tea samples impressed me again yesterday. Even though I'm not a big smoothie person, that one is high on my list for a future visit.
  • Post #10 - April 4th, 2021, 9:06 am
    Post #10 - April 4th, 2021, 9:06 am Post #10 - April 4th, 2021, 9:06 am
    Thank you, Rene G, I was a little rushed when I was searching for the Maesri, I had an inkling I just may have not seen it, since they did have some Korean, and Japanese 'staples.'
    We cannot be friends if you do not know the difference between Mayo and Miracle Whip.
  • Post #11 - April 5th, 2021, 1:34 pm
    Post #11 - April 5th, 2021, 1:34 pm Post #11 - April 5th, 2021, 1:34 pm
    Rene G wrote:
    seebee wrote: Chiu Quon has a branch selling pre-bagged buns, tarts, etc. Honestly, I think most of their stuff is serviceable but not anything special.


    Agree. For my taste, good not great.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #12 - September 3rd, 2021, 12:51 pm
    Post #12 - September 3rd, 2021, 12:51 pm Post #12 - September 3rd, 2021, 12:51 pm
    My first impressions were favorable but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't expecting just bit more. The space is vast and aisles are spacious. And there are plenty of goods. But I felt like most of what I was seeing at 88 is also available at the tiny but mighty Richwell Market on Dempster in Morton Grove. Meat and seafood selections are clearly more ample at 88 and they offer a bit more produce, as well. And there were a few more SKUs in the dry goods aisles. But in the end, Richwell is ~90% of the store 88 is, in about 10% of the space. And considering that Richwell is on my way to work, I don't foresee many trips to 88, unless I'm looking for something very specific that I can only find there.

    Tried a couple of food stalls in the 2nd floor food court and was disappointed. Lots of microwaving going on and I ate nothing I'd ever want to eat again. Maybe it's primarily for the captive audience but even then, given 88's location, one would have to exert little or no additional effort to do better for any sort of a snack or meal.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #13 - September 3rd, 2021, 4:34 pm
    Post #13 - September 3rd, 2021, 4:34 pm Post #13 - September 3rd, 2021, 4:34 pm
    ronnie_suburban wrote: But in the end, Richwell is ~90% of the store 88 is, in about 10% of the space. And considering that Richwell is on my way to work, I don't foresee many trips to 88, unless I'm looking for something very specific that I can only find there.
    =R=


    And do they really have anything not available at Broadway and Argyle, way more available to me.
  • Post #14 - September 3rd, 2021, 5:31 pm
    Post #14 - September 3rd, 2021, 5:31 pm Post #14 - September 3rd, 2021, 5:31 pm
    lougord99 wrote:
    ronnie_suburban wrote: But in the end, Richwell is ~90% of the store 88 is, in about 10% of the space. And considering that Richwell is on my way to work, I don't foresee many trips to 88, unless I'm looking for something very specific that I can only find there.
    =R=


    And do they really have anything not available at Broadway and Argyle, way more available to me.

    Probably so but that's not a part of the world where I spend much time, so not convenient for me. I didn't really intend to bash 88. It's a fine store. But before visiting, I was feeling a bit unrequited about it. Now, having visited, not so much. And my admiration for Richwell has grown via what I experienced at 88.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world
  • Post #15 - September 3rd, 2021, 6:49 pm
    Post #15 - September 3rd, 2021, 6:49 pm Post #15 - September 3rd, 2021, 6:49 pm
    As for shopping for Chinese ingredients, meat and fish- good to very good.

    As for eating in the food court- haven't been this disappointed in Chinese food since Mao was alive.
    "In pursuit of joys untasted"
    from Giuseppe Verdi's La Traviata
  • Post #16 - September 3rd, 2021, 7:51 pm
    Post #16 - September 3rd, 2021, 7:51 pm Post #16 - September 3rd, 2021, 7:51 pm
    HI,

    You found a store that fits your needs far north of Chinatown. Lucky!

    If you traverse the city by car, 88 Marketplace is very car friendly and may get even friendlier if the indoor parking comes to be.

    Richwell Market has many varieties in a small space and 88 Marketplace in a broader space. If you want Chinese snacks, 88 has rows to explore. If frozen dumplings and such are your thing, there is a lot.

    I agree with Jazzfood on the seafood and fish. They have Maine lobster and live warm water spiny lobsters for a not so trivial price.

    As for safety protocols during covid, they took your temperature before allowing you to access.

    I have no idea how convenient 88 is for those using public transportation. It is ideal by car and very close to 90/94/55.

    Regards,
    Cathy2
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #17 - September 3rd, 2021, 8:40 pm
    Post #17 - September 3rd, 2021, 8:40 pm Post #17 - September 3rd, 2021, 8:40 pm
    Cathy2 wrote:If you traverse the city by car, 88 Marketplace is very car friendly and may get even friendlier if the indoor parking comes to be.

    Even the spacious outdoor lot, mentioned upthread, makes stopping in remarkably easy.

    =R=
    Same planet, different world

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