My mom absolutely loved Super King Food Center in Stockton.
The Asian supermarket at 6045 N. El Dorado St. was her go-to place when it came to making her favorite Filipino dishes.
She often sent me there to pick up her spices and wrappers for lumpia, Bihon noodles for pancit, fresh fish cut to her preference and exotic produce such as bitter melon.
Years earlier my mom sent to me to the Saturday Asian farmers market underneath the crosstown freeway to buy bitter melon. At first, I had no idea what it looked like or how to go about selecting this tropical plant that also has medicinal uses.
Speaking of fresh fish, my mom had me go to Super King to pick up tilapia, preferring it pretty much intact including the head and all.
One time, she wanted me to pick up five of them on busy Friday evening during Lent. Fish was so much in demand that I had to patiently wait my turn while being shoved around by folks gathered around this section of the store.
Being pushed and shoved around in any Asian store can hardly be considered rude or bad manners. It’s more of a cultural thing.
Here, you select your whole tilapia as displayed on a crushed ice counter. The butcher is on hand to scale and cut this fresh catch to your specification – in this case, remove the innards but keep the head.
Incidentally, my mom recently passed away. So I’m reminded of these moments.
Getting back to Super King Food Center, you’re welcome by smells and aromas of the various foods and spices.
There’s a deli counter inside featuring faded photos of dishes and combination plates on the wall display. Cooked, baked and prepared food items can also be picked up off the rack in this area of the store.
The prices are remarkably reasonable.
“They have the best (Vietnamese and Filipino) desserts ready to eat in the fridge and super cheap — $1.25 for the most,” said online reviewer Dona of Lakeview.
She also called Super King Food Center a “hidden gem.”
Some folks come here for the meat counter. Take Kristin from Los Angeles.
“This is my usual go-to Asian store in Stockton,” she said. “My family visits the butchery frequently – we buy oxtail and they do the custom cutting.”
Super King caters to a variety of cultures, with aisles and aisles of goods, spices, noodles, oils, and sauces.
Even before you enter the doors, you’re greeted with the aromas of skewered chicken, beef and pork being cooked up on the barbecue grill at the front of the store.
Super King is open seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
A second location can be found at the Stonewood Shopping Center, 8626 Lower Sacramento Rd. #20.
To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, email firstname.lastname@example.org.