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Shopping at the Bangkok Market

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LA is the home of the strip mall. You can't go more than a two blocks without finding a slab of concrete sprinkled with a mash-up of unrelated storefronts and an ethnic restaurant that delivers its country's culinary traditions in Styrofoam and plastic containers.

For the person whose recycling container holds more to-go containers than grocery bags, there will always be another Los Angeles strip mall ethnic restaurant to try. But for those of us with budgets so tight we need the extra coin from recycling soda cans , an ethnic market may be most economical way to bring the flavors of the east into your home.

Located a few blocks east of Western at the intersection of Latino and Thai neighborhoods is Bangkok Market, an Asian grocery store favored by local Vietnamese and Thai Americans, curious foodies and chefs.

The windowless market is small, but the cramped aisles are filled with low-priced Asian delicacies and staples. The store stocks straight from the source Asian foods and, thanks to the proximity of a large Latino community, Bangkok Market also offers a limited amount of Central American ingredients.

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Staples like jasmine rice, noodles, vinegar and oil can be purchased well under the price point of other "whole paycheck" grocery chains. There is a meat counter that offers offers fresh fish, shellfish and some various meats--as well as a "fish frying service" that will cook your fish for you on the spot.

Produce is limited, but the fruits, vegetables and herbs are fresh and unbelievably inexpensive. When grocery chains charge $1 per lemon, it's worth the trip across town to get a pound of citrus for less.

For anyone looking to stock up on general kitchen supplies, Bangkok Market has a small selection of inexpensive woks ($10), citrus squeezers ($3), knives for under fifteen bucks, graters and plates can all be purchased for as little as two dollars.

The shelves at Bangkok Market may be filled with unfamiliar items, but with values such as this, it pays to be a little adventurous.

Bangkok Market is located at4757 Melrose Ave.

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Also: LAist In the Kitchen: Vietnamese Spring Rolls

Written and photographed by Brooke Burton of