808 Somerset Street West, Ottawa, (613)983-8828
I made many visits to Otttawa’s Chinatown before I even noticed that this store existed. I first saw it last August and I made a point of visiting it on my most recent trip south. It isn’t very large inside, but there are lots of interesting things on offer…
The Chinese name on the sign reads:
The last two characters, 海味, are a way of saying seafood. Normally, on restaurant menus or signs, seafood is represented by the characters 海鮮, but the 味 (wèi), which usually is translated as ‘taste’ or ‘smell’ can also mean ‘delicacy’, hence the store, in Chinese, offers ‘sea delicacies’.
The first two characters, 鼎豐 (dǐngfēng), are a bit harder to translate. Character number one means a type of three-legged cauldron, whilst the second translates as ‘abundant’ or ‘plenty’. That seems to suggest a compound meaning something like ‘cornucopia’ but I think it may mean ‘Acme’. The name is fairly common in names of business advertising on the web and one I found contained the words 鼎豐金, which was translated on their page as ‘Golden Acme’ … I’d be interested to hear from anyone with any further information on this.
Anyway, the store is unremarkable on the inside (and I apologize for forgetting to take a picture) but one thing I can report on is the absolutely delicious aroma that fills the place. It is a combination of the rich, sweetness of dried shellfish and a host of other preserved goods. Mostly, it is like immersing yourself in the fragrance of an expensive, intricately spiced, XO sauce.
There are quite a few varieties of dried sea-foods on offer as well as dried vegetables, soup-blends and other sundries. In truth, most of what you can find here is available at other stores nearby but the price on quite a few items was very good. One thing that surprised me was that, other than as an ingredient in one soup-mix, there were no Shark’s-fins. I wasn’t actually looking for them and I wasn’t struck by the fact until after I left the store, but it seems funny in retrospect that I didn’t see any in this store… Possibly this is a reflection of the growing boycott of shark fin due to the wasteful harvesting practices?
- 3 Kinds Black Fungus
- Dried Orange Peel
- Dried Fish Maw
The Fish maw is a particularly interesting item. My wife just brought home some Vancouver but the appearance is a bit different than the kind you see above. I bought it, not only for that reason, but because the price was a very reasonable $7.50. I will be featuring both types, as wells a the other stuff you see above in the next little while …