Best Asian Market - 2003
The Asian Farmer's Market
When you get down to it, most Asian markets are pretty much the same: They all have that intriguing, odd smell; they all carry the same selection of sauces and condiments; and every one of them sells weird candies that you never see anywhere else. There's nothing wrong with sameness, of course. The whole point of a local market is to cater to patrons' tastes (like, the Schnucks on the Hill carries more Italian goods, and the one in Ladue has a wine selection deeper than most). What sets the Asian Farmer's Market -- not a farmers' market, really, but rather a converted department store -- apart from the pack is its seafood selection. We're not talking frozen tilapia or whole milkfish here. We mean the fresh-from-the-aquarium, whacked-while-you-wait stuff. The Asian Farmer's Market stocks live blue crab and five varieties of clams, as well as red snapper, salmon, pomfret, black sea bass, strawberry grouper, king mackerel and shark. All the aforementioned are on ice. There's also a wall of aquariums stocked with tilapia and catfish. And we ain't talking cute fish tanks decorated with plants and colored gravel. Point to a fish and a meat cutter will net it, whack it on the head with a rubber mallet and hand it to you in a plastic bag, bludgeoned and ready for cleaning. If you're a gutless weenie, they'll clean it for you.