Market Guide: The Cartimar Cheat SheetMarch 10, 2016
Cartimar is that place you go to if you’re looking to finally get that brand new bike. It’s also the place you’d you go to if you’re looking for a new pet, whether it be swimming in a tank or crawling on all fours. But more importantly, Cartimar is the place you go to if you’re looking for some of those coveted Japanese goods, whether inanimate or organic. Need to buy bento boxes for cheap? Looking for uni that’s a steal? Need to buy Kikkoman and wasabi in bulk? Cartimar’s the place to get all that, putting Pasay on a major high. And with the addition of its new wet market—with glorious parking spaces now, compared to the almost non-existent ones of the Cartimar past—this shopping center and market just got even better. So here, to help you find your way, a little guide to the stalls that make the place.
New Cartimar Market:
The new Cartimar wet market building is right across the road from the old one, which is being renovated to become an eating area. It’s a three-floor structure, with the ground floor allotted for the market, and the upper two serving as the brand spanking new parking space. Pretty convenient now, since scoring a parking slot here has always been a gamble. The market is arranged by row, starting with fruits and vegetables at the front, then transitioning to pork and beef, and eventually ending with fish and fowl. Aside from the usual finds, the poultry stalls offer free-range chickens, black chickens, and ducks.
It’s a Japanese grocery more suited for restaurants, since most of their products are generally in bulk. From tubs of miso, jugs of soy sauce, and seaweed sheets in the hundreds. To give you an idea of what they sell, you can find 18 liter boxes of sake, mirrin, and soy sauce, all with convenient spouts. Bags of gari (that pink ginger you initially mistook for candy) are also available for purchase in case you need palate cleansers. While most of the stuff here are for commercial use, they also sell noodles, both dry and fresh, which you can get in small packs. And if the wet market wasn’t to your standards, Asuka also houses frozen fish, from hamachi (yellow tail), saba (mackerel), and sanma (mackerel pike).
New Hatchin Grocery
If Asuka’s products were more suited to restaurants, New Hatchin’s are more for home consumption. The convenient thing with Hatchin is the english guides that accompany the products, most of which if not all are in Kanji. For instance, a guide that stresses not to over mix tempura batter so as not to activate the gluten, which will make the batter chewy. Hatchin’s chillers are gold, adorned magnificently with styrofoam towers of tobiko (flying fish roe), mentaiko (cod roe), chirimenjakotiny (sardines), and andika kogane (golden squid). But if you chance upon this place with no intentions of learning about tempura, or shopping to build your own donburi, then come for the takoyaki. At P85 for a small tray of eight plump pieces, New Hatchin’s got a good thing going. Meanwhile, on the second floor, piles of oriental bowls and cups sit in rows—take a stroll around and try to spot which Japanese restaurants bought their dishware from this place—along with kitchenware, from pots and pans, knives, and mandolins. While it may look like a standard Japanese surplus shop, the high quality of the porcelain says otherwise, and so do all the price tags.
Tiong Hwa Food Products
This is tofu heaven. Selling over 200 products, it seems Tiong Hwa’s life mission is dedicated to spreading the good news of soy and all its derivations. In liquid form, the store sells ridiculously good soy milk, which also comes in different flavors. From here, it slowly works it way up in hardness. Soft tofu or taho has earned itself its own takeout counter, with toppings other than syrup, but the scoop of red bean seems to win top prize. Then there’s different varieties of hard tofu, including gluten chips which they sell by the bag. Soy aside, Tiong Hwa also stocks a friendly assortment of dumplings and sauces.
A Japanese-Korean grocery, Masan has a huge array of treats—mostly desserts and ice creams—compared to the other shops. We’re talking banana milk, creamy soft serve crammed into a foil pack and topped with a hard straw, and fish-shaped ice cream sandwiches in all flavors. While its shelves stock similar items as its neighbors, its gleaming advantage is the uni. Tubs of sea urchin set you back just P380 (smaller-sized tubs in other supermarkets will net you P500), but its availability isn’t consistent. Wait on the tide, and hope they have it. If they do, do the smart thing and walk away with more than just one container.
This area used to be the wet market but started renovation last year, along with the construction of the new building. Talks within the shopping compound suggest that the place will be turned into an eating area similar to the food stalls right before the Asian stores.
The rice shops was where they drew the line on the renovations, and are the brothers left behind from the original market setup. Like any rice hub, you can find several varieties in the area but the Japanese rice, although ridiculously expensive, is better bought in the Asian stores across the road. It’s interesting to note that last year, the National Food Authority went into Cartimar to investigate claims of fake Chinese rice.
After all that shopping, food stalls will be your best friend. Sure, there are restaurants scattered around Cartimar but in terms of variety and affordability (going around the place is bad for your wallet’s health) food stalls come up ahead. Ranging from sisig, to noodles, to lechon, to congee, to fruit juices, the central dining area gives you something new to try each time you visit the shopping center.
Cartimar Shopping Center
Address: Taft Avenue, Pasay City Metro Manila
Number: 0906 3618142
Market Changes: A basic market tip is to bring change for your purchases. Haggling is a fact of life in the wet market but the Asian stalls are more rigid with their prices.
Getting There: If you’re taking the train, you can get off the Gil Puyat Station and walk to the shopping center. If you’re bringing a car, you can take Buendia and turn left at Taft Avenue. Either way, you can’t miss the place, just turn into Cartimar Avenue.
Let’s Get Friendly: It pays to be friendly with the groceries. Get on their good side and they just might give you access to rare and imported Japanese ingredients—most of which aren’t readily available in the country. Trust us, most Japanese restaurants around Metro Manila owe their success to these establishments.