Talin’s humble beginnings in a narrow shop on Central and Wyoming bear little resemblance to the ethnic supermarket that now anchors the complex at Louisiana and Central. There you’ll also find Café Trang, Bahn Mi Coda (formerly Lee's Bakery), Bubble Tea & Coffee and a Subway franchise.
With aisle after aisle of imported goods, Talin is the go-to place for Burque’s best selection of fresh Asian fruits and vegetables such as durian, lychee, Buddha's hand, and many varieties of squash, melon and greens. It also carries a large array of hard-to-find fresh fish including mackerel, smelt and sardines. If you’re in the market for soy sauce, look on aisle “Tokyo.” You’ll find European, Latin and Caribbean foods as well. And if you’re prowling for noodles, Talin has more than 200 varieties—fresh, frozen and dried—in all shapes and sizes.
I’m always happy to hit the deli. The unusual stews and prepared items are not your typical restaurant fare—for instance, chunks of bitter melon in a stew of exotic veggies, rich with dark broth. The deli caters largely to Vietnamese and Asian clientele with the comfort foods they love. An eggplant-
There are more than 20 items to customize your bowl—crispy fried shallots, vegetables, a variety of mushrooms, and meats and fish.
A 2010 remodel of the deli includes a dining area and a ramen noodle bar. This revamped space doubles as a place for folks to park themselves while their friends and families roam the store. With high seating, the ramen counter shows contemporary flair; meal service is a simple, one-dish concept. You can start with dry, packaged ramen, but the fresh is much better. There are more than 20 items to customize your bowl—crispy fried shallots, vegetables, a variety of mushrooms, and meats and fish. I’m having fried shallots, bok choy and shiitake mushrooms in a shoyu-based broth. The server assembles the ingredients, heats the broth and adds the fresh ramen. She uses small scissors to snip ingredients into the boiling liquid. In a few minutes, she places my bowl on the counter and I begin slurping up perfectly cooked noodles. It’s a satisfying meal, especially during these winter months.
Victor Limary, whose family founded Talin in 1980, manages and works in every aspect of the business. He joins me over ramen and tea. “Initially we started with just packaged ramen. But some of our Japanese customers were disappointed because they were expecting fresh ramen,” he says, “so we thought we’d give it a try. We went around and tasted ramen at different places and came up with all of the recipes we’ve got now.” The diversity extends to a selection of broths. “We’ve got the tonkatsu miso,” Limary adds, “and now we’re offering a vegetarian version of the shoyu.”
For a real treat, ring in the Chinese Year of the Rabbit on Sunday, Feb. 6, at 1 p.m., when Talin will entertain customers with a lively Chinese dragon dance.