Yue-Wah in a New Light

June 2013 091For several years, Yue-Wah Oriental Foods has been my favorite specialty grocery store in Madison. Located in the Villager Shopping Center on South Park Street, Yue-Wah is a family-run business that carries an expansive assortment of ethnic foods including Japanese, Korean, Mexican, Chinese, Middle Eastern and Indian. When I’m looking for specialty ingredients for a recipe, Yue-Wah is always my first stop. It’s the kind of place I could spend hours, studying the rows and rows of noodles, spices, produce, etc. The prices are good, and the store is remarkably well-organized and clean.

Over the last several months, the family behind Yue-Wah accomplished an incredible task: packing up their 6,000 square-foot store (which was slated for demolition), and moving it to a brand new storefront next door. I have experience packing up and moving a one-bedroom apartment—but an entire grocery store? I can’t imagine.

During our first stop to the new storefront two weeks ago, it was weird to see Yue-Wah in a new light. Their digs are shiny and new. Most of the boxes are now unpacked and cleared away, and the transition seems almost complete. There are a few changes I noticed—for example, the produce is now located in the back of the store. But otherwise, it’s the same Yue-Wah I’ve always loved.

One of the owners seems to be having a difficult time with the transition. When we asked what she thought of the new store, she explained that, although her husband is really excited about it, change is really hard for her. They’d been in the old store for decades. With a small smile, she told us to ask her again in a few years. It was a rare moment of openness and emotion.

Go! Go explore Yue-Wah and it’s aisles of worldly foods. If possible, bring cash when you go—it really makes a difference for a small, family-run business. And in my experience, the owners are always willing to help—all you have to do is ask. June 2013 088

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