I’m cheating a bit as Hmongtown Marketplace is not technically on the Green Line, but it is still within the 1/2 mile walking range of the future Rice Street station so I feel OK about this. The market has been on my to do list for a few years, but I never managed to make it over until Friday afternoon.
It is similar to other open air markets and souks that exist all over the wold: rows and rows of consumer electronics and clothes, some stalls with giant TVs playing loud music videos from the home country, a large farmer’s market, and food stalls. I had more time than I thought so I actually walked through and saw whole place. It’s worth a tour.
But the goal was the food stalls. Finding the right building is a little tricky, but I made it. First I went to Coco’s Island, and got a dish that was almost like a seafood jambalaya or stew. There was a good mix of octopus, crab, fish, shrimp, and some unidentifiables (photo on the left). But the real star of lunch was the papaya salad from Mr. Papaya Kitchen. They make the salad fresh right in front of you. They use a large, (I think) bamboo mortar and pestle to make it fresh right in front of you. They ask if you want small or large, and then the cook begins mixing and mashing all of the ingredients. Interestingly, they then give you a sample of it and ask you if you want it spicier, and then they finish. I did ask for mine spicier, and mercy, it was spicier! With the cooks permission, I snapped the photo on the right but then just as I’m about to take the shot they both got shy and moved out of the way.
This is a place I will come back to regularly, especially if we’re having folks over, and I can grab some papaya salad beforehand. There were also a bunch of meats, sausages, and rotisserie poultry that will make a great dinner. I also wish I’d read this Heavy Table review before I went.