Tong Li in Burwood is located upstairs in the Burwood Plaza and is a frequent pit stop during my weekly shopping trip. The prices are competitive and the products so varied that each time I visit something else inspires me to experimentation in the kitchen.
When you first enter, you find a mix of frozen goods and a range of sauces and spice mixes. This is where you will find dumplings and many other goodies suited to jazzing up Asian-style soups. You will also find some great vegan mock meats from the amazing Lamyong brand that seems to do most everything including soy fillets and vegan hot dogs. I even found a vegan whole fish in the freezer section.
To the rear of the store is where you get into the serious stuff with an aisle dedicated to dry spices, legumes and cereal products. Many of the items on display here are priced a lot cheaper than those you will find in other supermarkets – maize flour is my favourite buy from the section.
Like most Asian grocery stores they have a large and varied noodle section, carrying the usual flavoured instant noodles as well as more interesting options like Japanese soba noodles.
They also stock all the ingredients you need to make stir-fries from scratch and have a wide range of pre-made sources for stir fries and Asian curries. There are a lot of Chinese options but also a fair representation of pre-made sauces suitable for use in Thai and Malaysian cuisine.
Indeed there is an overwhelming range of choices when it comes to condiments and chili-lovers will be excited by the range of chilli sauces.
If you are looking to experiment with tofu, you've come to the right place. Try cubed fried tofu, frozen slabs of tofu, firm tofu, tofu preserved in jars – there is a lot to choose from.
The sweets section will not appeal to those with more conventional tastes, but if you like hot and tart sweets or those made with exotic flavourings like pandan or lychee, you'll find the selection inviting. Think Thai-style crystallised ginger, tamarind balls and rice biscuits.
Speaking of rice, Tong Li is an excellent place to buy rice in bulk. There are plenty of interesting varieties including Red Rice, Black Glutinous Rice and Congee Rice.
It must be said that the fresh produce section is comparatively limited and they tend to run out of a lot of the fresh vegetables by afternoon. While you can pick up a few items here, don't rely on this as your main supplier for Asian greens.
On the whole, Tong Li is a pleasure to shop at, whether you are familiar with Asian food products or are just learning - you are sure to find something interesting to put in your basket.
Tong Li Burwood is located conveniently close to the Burwood train station so it won't be difficult to get your grocery haul home. There is also free 2-hour parking in Burwood Plaza if you decide to drive.
Then again if you don't live nearby, there are a number of Tong Li Supermarkets around Sydney including stores in Campsie, Ashfield and Parramatta.