Asia Gourmet opens

Along with bags of jasmine rice and soy sauce, you’re apt to find all sorts of exotic things in Asian grocery stores. Like giant frozen beetles. And chile flavored squid. And squishy, shrink-wrapped stuff that dares you to identify it.

Which is all quite enlightening but, as someone whose wok has seen more action as a salad bowl than an actual cooking utensil, a little daunting. I usually exit Santa Rosa’s Asian groceries with a bag of Hello Kitty Candy and some shrimp chips. Totally frustrated.

No longer. Asia Gourmet is exotic grocer for the rest of us. Filled with neat rows of Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Indian foods, Adam and Jay Jay Dodds (who are both the young proprietors and self-proclaimed foodies) put recipes for delish dishes near the ingredients–giving dummies like me a grocery list and inspiration. I grabbed instructions for both the orange peel chicken and stir fry. Yum.

Along with dry goods, the couple (who most recently hail from LA) are expanding their fresh produce, and will soon have fresh winter melon and galangal root, along with current offerings of lemon grass, ginger and other Asian specialties.

There’s also a section devoted to woks and cookery, teas, reproduction Shanghai advertising posters and gifts (like the wooden sushi set I picked up). Sake and wines, Chinese herbals and sushi to go are forthcoming, the Dodds promise. The Indian offerings, including dals, chutneys, spices and oils are also expanding.

And despite the fact that I left with more Asian chatchkes than Asian food on my maiden visit, I’ll be back once I give my wok a thorough dusting and finish off the last of my shrimp chips. Which is likely to be rather soon.

Local cred: The couple are also tight with SRJC’s resident Asian cooking expert Mei Ibach, who was shopping and chatting with the couple yesterday. (You can see some of her recipes in next week’s PD). Check out Mei’s cooking class on sushi coming up at Sur La Table on Jan. 10.

Asia Gourmet, 4100 Montomery Dr., Santa Rosa, 707.537.6888