Smile Politely

Have a shopping adventure at Far East Grocery

I’m not buying chopsticks on Amazon, so I stopped by Far East Grocery to get my chopsticks — and I found so much more.

Inside Far East Grocery, there are shelves of products and boxes of produce on the floor. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

It was my first time visiting the well-stocked grocery just off University on Fifth Street. Walking in, I was overwhelmed by how many items were on the shelves (and in boxes on the floor), but I was determined to find chopsticks. 

On the shelves at Far East Grocery, there are blue and green metallic canisters of green tea. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

There was a large selection of tea in canisters and boxes. 

Two shelves at Far East Grocery show jars of sauces with peppers, and on the bottom, there are boxes of wu-mu dry noodles. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

There were shelves of sauces, noodles, soups, pickled vegetables, dried mushrooms, and spices.

There are shelves with white plastic bins of produce in a cooler case at Far East Grocery. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

In the back right corner of the store, there was a case packed with fresh produce. The cashier told me that the grocery receives fresh produce from California every Sunday and Thursday, and on Wednesdays, fresh produce arrives from Chicago. 

Two packages of tiny Thai chili peppers are standing up tall on the shelf at Far East Grocery. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The variety of produce was unlike the basic selection at big box grocery stores. I saw packs of red Thai chili peppers for $2-$3. I saw Thai eggplant, okra, bok choy, snow peas, carrots, mushrooms, green onion, greens, herbs, and more. 

In the cold case, there was meat, dried squid, buns, and packages of wet noodles.

On the floor, there is a large box of bananas in a bunch, and a gray plastic bin of durian fruit. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Throughout the store, there were boxes of produce including this durian for $4.99 a pound. I saw fresh bell peppers, limes, tomatoes, onions, sprouts, potatoes, and more.

Down one of the aisles at Far East Grocery, there are packages full on the shelves and boxes stacked on top of each other with produce on the ground. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Everywhere I looked, there was something to see. 

So did I find the chopsticks? No, I didn’t, but thankfully, the cashier asked if I wanted help finding something. I told her I was looking for chopsticks, and she said, “Oh, they’re over in the back.” She led me through the front of the store, through the second room of shelves, to the back left corner of the store, down a hallway to a small room that held household items like bowls, spoons, and of course, chopsticks.

On a gray speckled counter, there is the author's purchase: chopsticks, green onions, snacks, and canned jars. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I successfully picked up chopsticks — 100 of them! — for $2.99. That is $10 cheaper than Amazon and also supports a local shop owner instead of Jeff Bezos. I am an impulse buyer, so I also bought some fresh produce, iced coffee, tea, rice, snacks, and candy. All of this was only $35. Nothing I bought was more than $3 except the big bag of rice ($7) and my specialty Kit Kats ($6). I was impressed with the store’s selection of products and even more impressed by the prices.

On a butcher block counter, there is the author's purchases from Far East Grocery. There is canned ice coffee, turmeric tea, snacks, coconut milk, and a bag of wooden chopsticks. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

I bought some pantry items like peanut sauce and coconut milk, but I went a little nuts in the snack section picking up onion-flavored rings, fruity chew candy, sesame egg roll crackers, shrimp snacks, and cracker-flavored Kit Kats. This flavor of Kit Kat is new and quirky, and the treat tasted so good: salty, buttery, and sweet with a white chocolate coating. It was a cool snack to try, and I can’t wait to open up the other snacks this weekend.

Parking is easy at Far East Grocery as there are many metered spots on Fifth Street right in front of the store. The prices were super affordable, and the store is packed with delicious things to buy. If you want to try a different grocery experience, check out Far East Grocery.

Far East Grocery
105 S Fifth St
Champaign
10 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

Editors Note: A previous version of this splog erroneously listed the shop’s address as Urbana.

Food + Drink Editor / / instagram

Related Articles