CONTRIBUTED BY VIVIAN

Galangal_300  Kaffir-lime(2)

Why would I want to buy Thai ingredients when there are plenty of Thai restaurants on island, you say? My husband is Cambodian, and I really miss Cambodian food myself. I’ve been on the island for 6 months now, and I’m really really missing my old ingredients for Southeast Asian food. Finding a Thai grocery (which seems more likely than a Cambodian grocery), would totally solve my issues with finding some key ingredients I just can’t find at the Commissary (Foster), San-A, or Maxvalue. What am I looking to find?

1. Kaffir Limes and/or Kaffir Lime Leaves

2. Red Curry paste

3. Galangal

4. Lemongrass I found lemongrass at the garden section in Makeman.

Actually, if someone sold a Kaffir lime plant, that’d be even better. I’m almost tempted to break some customs laws and bring some over next time, but I’ll suffer without my dearly missed, yummy Cambodian skewers instead. Sigh…

Another Southeast Asian food woe? PHO. I miss pho so much, because I used to eat it every weekend. While I do like eating Okinawa soba as my replacement, I just have a thing for stinky sock-smelling soup that only pho can satisfy. I know there are pho restaurants somewhere in Naha, but that’s quite a drive away for me in Yomitan. Fortunately, pho ingredients aren’t as impossible to find.

So, if anyone has some insight on where to find a Thai/Southeast Asian grocery (or even Filipino), that’d be excellent. Or, even if you know where to find an ingredient, that’d be superb as well. I love Okinawan & Japanese food, but sometimes I just need that tang and spice in my life.

46 COMMENTS

  1. My wife is Cambodian, she is pregnant, and desperately wants sour green mangoes, to the point of tears. If anyone could help me it would mean the world.

  2. Hi. My wife and I just got on Island this week and are looking for Thai peppers as well as other ingredients. If anyone could help us out we would really appreciate it. My wife is from Thailand and hasn’t been home in a couple of years so she misses the food a lot. My email is [email protected] if anyone has some info for me. Thanks!

  3. Just moved here and living in the Kinser towers. I am in need of lime leaves, galangal, thai egg plant. My siblings back in the states are too busy to send me any and I really want to make Thai curry noodles. Please, if anyone have any I will buy some.

  4. Hi Lam,
    Thank u. Where and when is the farmers market? As for my family sending me food, theres a better chance of me finding it myself haha.

  5. Hi,
    My husband and i just got here april 5th and I am cambodian, looking for some ingredients like the fresh vegetables (thai egg plants, basil leaves, lime leaves, and etc). Can anyone help direct me to any markets around here? Im located at kinser and i am still learning my way around the island.

    • Hi Lilly. We’ve been for a few months now and still learning my way around the island too. I’m Laotian and I’ve been on the search for the lime leaves and thai eggplant. Basil you can find at the farmers market. I’m on Kinser as well. Some authentic thai/laos ingredients are hard to find so we our family send them to us. If you have any questions feel free to email me, [email protected]

  6. Well I know this is an old post but I am an avid Thai cooker and I am craving sticky rice. We have family friends that are frm Thailand and Laos and they got us hooked on their cooking. Although we are very American we are ALWAYS eating thai and vietnamese foods. I want to find the steamer basket and pot to actually make sticky rice in. I’m so sick of the Japanese rice I would do anything to find the steamer. Is there any actual Thai market? My husband and I make authentic Pho soup every weekend and it is getting expensive buying from the commissary. If any other thai cookers or lovers of thai food know my husband and I would be so happy.

    • Kelsey if your still here on the island we should get together and cook I got most of my Laos cookers here and family sends me most of my ingredients let me know 🙂

    • Hi. My husband and I just got to the island and will be staying on Camp Kinser. We are both Laotian and I’m on a search for a thai/laos market to get all the authentic ingredients. Any suggestions? So far it’s just us and would love to make friends. The most important ingredient I’m looking for is to make papaya salad, worst case I would have my brother send me some from the states.

      • Hi! I’m also Laotian & I’m here with my hubby on camp foster. I have ba dek & shrimp paste already but there is a farmers market I would be able to take you to near kadena gate 3 that sells papaya cheaper than most places. Let me know if you would like to hang out & help each other search around Okinawa for Thai/Lao ingredients! Here’s my number. 080 4198 2203.

      • Hi Lam welcome to the island Im Laos too and my husband is Mexican(he acts more laos then me lol) Im on Kinser 🙂 Yayyy the 3rd Laos I found on Kinser lol Let me know if you want to get together heres my number 08035931016 I have most of the ingredients my other Laos friend on Kinser we always have cook outs 🙂 hope to hear from you soon

        • Hi Paula. Yay! Which building are you at? We are near the px and comm. We are still trying to get settle in. I’ll walk to the Cafe whenever I’m bored, maybe we can meet up if you’re not busy.

      • Hi Lam, My name is Chris. My wife is from Thailand and we are looking for ingredients as all.We just got on Island and I was wondering if you were still here? We are looking for Thai peppers and anything for papaya salad as well. She is from Isan region of Thailand and I believe they like there papaya salad similar to Lao. Please email me and let me know. My email is [email protected]. If anyone else reads this post and has information please feel free to contact me. When I say we just got here I mean 2 days ago.

      • I don’t know if you are still on island but we have most of the ingredients for papaya salad. What were you missing? Seems the hardest thing for us to find is peppers.

  7. Does anyone know Japanese for kaffir lime plant? Went to Makeman today to find one but didn’t see any (none of the labels had any English), and the English-speaking staff only showed me to the Mexican Lime.

  8. Meily, you can find pho noodles at San-A or Jusco in their Thai section. I have to tell you though, they are pretty expensive. I just have family back home send some.

  9. kellyerace- I am Cambodian myself and miss southeast asian food so much! Does anyone know where I can find pho noodles? I know how to make pho, but I can’t eat it without the rest of the ingredients!

  10. Makemon sells a plant called citrus hystrix, which is the genus species name for the kaffir lime tree (look it up on Wikipedia). Plants are only about 12 inches high with a few dozen leaves, but if you plan to be here for a few years, you can grow it bigger. It cost less than $10.

  11. Belated response. Thank you everyone for all your help concerning my Thai Ingredients question. It was super helpful, and I’ve been able to find the pastes! The ever elusive lime leaf is still missing, but I’ll be fine. Thanks again everyone!

  12. Britini-I found shrimp paste in the (Kadena) commissary near the produce section at the little Philipino stand. It is near the deli.
    You can find lemongrass at Makeman. Just ask if they have it in stock. :)Happy cooking!

  13. I have been trying to find lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves for a year now, but I grow my own thai basil, and fortunately ripe mangoes are easy to find here 🙂 One thing I can’t get my hands on though is Shrimp paste! Does anyone have any insight on that?? Thanks!

  14. You are making my mouth water wanting to try all these new foods! I’ve never had Thai or Cambodian! I have an idea. Let’s have an authentic Asian potluck. I’ll provide the house, all the serving ware and drinks, everyone else bring one of the above mentioned dishes! 🙂

  15. Ohhhh…I loooove Pho! I craved Pho so much when I was pregnant. Thai food is really yummy, too. I love the spiciness. My favorite Thai dish is Chicken Pot Kapow (not sure if I spelled that right). I always have trouble finding the Thai basil! I also have trouble finding Korean ingredients out here. There is a little K-town section in the Kadena commissary, but it is WAY overpriced. I’ve just been having the fam send my Korean stuff over from Korea…it’s actually cheaper that way.

  16. Aviva, good warning on the spiciness factor. For the first time user, a tiny bit goes a long way. 🙂 I’ll have to check out that cookbook recommended by Richard.

  17. Galangal & Kaffir Lime in the photos – What a fabulous post! Good call! Also – I must recommend the cookbook that Richard of SomChai recommended to me which I bought on Amazon. Blue Elephant Thai cookbook – now if I can hopefully find some ingredients, I can make some of those recipes! (Some)

    I did order dried galangal online, and i’m told by Richard that kaffir lime leaves ship well and keep in the freezer. I ordered cooking sauces, dried galangal, and thai chili powder from importfood.com and it got here just fine. I also signed up for a weekly newsletter that has awesome recipes!

    Lastly (I’m told) – Pho Dao is just not authentic pho. I just don’t think I’m going to get the real thing until I go to Vietnam 🙂

    (A-Price IS great for curry pastes and spices/ingredients that are hard to find! They have red, green & yellow curry pastes, but warning – they’re SPICY!)

  18. Perfect timing. I was going to try to make curry for the first time and the recipe called for Thai red curry paste – which we couldn’t find at the Foster commissary. My husband found curry *powder* but paste was nowhere to be seen. This is a huge help – now I can try to do it properly!

  19. OMG. Thank you for posting this. I’ve looked and looked for the kaffir lime leaves and galangal to no avail. I too recently found the lemongrass at the DIY stores too. If you’re looking for red curry paste, at the A-Price Stores you can find all of the colors. (The Thai kind!) (If you turn at the street that is across from Kadena’s gate 5 (the gate that is only open from like 2-430 or something like that) and go straight, you’ll see a store with a chef’s hat kinda logo called A-Price to the left just after Mister Donut. You don’t have to be a member of A-Price to shop there.
    If you don’t want a big tub of the curry paste, I did see the exact same brand but in a smaller pouch at C0-OP near their curry section.

    As for Pho, as long as you can find star anise, the rest of the ingredients aren’t hard to get. I did see some star anise pods at Co-op.

    Sorry-long comment. Just excited about this post!

    I hope someone knows where to find the other stuff!

  20. I grow lemon grass, galanga, Thai peppers and spicy basil in my yard so I don’t have to buy those locally but you can find lemongrass stalks at the commissary in the herb section sometimes. Best is to buy a plant at Makeman and plant it…mine is huge these days. Makeman also sells various types of basils. Basil, eggplant, peppers, and galanga all grow awesome here. Cilantro is something I have to get at the commissary mostly but I hear the fresh market out Gate 3 has it for better prices at times.

    I have a Thai friend on base that has kaffir lime growing in her yard and I get leaves from her and then freeze them so I can use them when I want. You can also find galanga sometimes shredded in a jar at the commissary or A-price. You can get red, yellow and green curry in the small tubs at A-price and at the little gourmet grocery in the Plaza Shopping area.

    A-price has frozen mango chunks that are really yummy and you can get rice stick and a few other ingredients from there. I make kwitteow (pho) several times a year and I get everything but the pho paste here. I have it sent from the states or I buy it when I am in Thailand. You can get star anise at any local grocery that has a dried herb section. I also sometimes mail ricestick to myself since it is cheaper in Thailand or in the States than here but I know I can find it at A-price if I am low.

    There are a few websites that you can buy Thai ingredients from that will ship them here but it is not cheap. I suggest getting someone you know to go to an Asian market in the states and packing up stuff and shipping it to you or doing it yourself when you go back. You can shipped anything that is canned, bottled or dried with no problem. Fresh herbs and spices are subject to inspection by the Japanese customs and will be confiscated so I don’t recommend wasting your money on those.

    I buy Jasmine rice at the commissary and you can get small bags of sticky rice (but it is not exactly the same as Thai sticky rice). You can also find sticky rice at A-price on occasion. I usually just buy it in the states or in Thailand and ship it to myself.

    There is a little Vietnamese Thai restaurant on the way to Naha…it is close to where the Ginowan road hits back on the 58. You have to park on the opposite side of the 58 and use the crosswalk to go to it since there is no parking at the restaurant itself. They have several Vietnamese and Thai dishes. I didn’t try the Pho because I had just made it a few weeks before, but the other food we ate was pretty good (not completely authentic but still really tasty). It is called Mekong Restaurant. They also had Thai mortar and pestles and sticky rice cooking baskets for sale so it is possible that they have some info on getting ingredients too. They are closed on Sundays and aren’t open between dinner and lunch.

    I hear the DAO in Naha is good also for Vietnamese food. As far as Thai goes, I have not tried the one outside of Courtney but Curcuma has been the most authentic although the others still taste great.

    Hope this helps.

    • Hi Mishka, not sure if you’re still on the island but I’ve been on a search for Kaffir leaves/plant and no luck. If you’re friend is on the island and still have the kaffir plant, I’m willing to buy some from her. I’m on Camp Kinser. Email me please [email protected]

      • I agree I am in desperate need of some kaffir lime leaves. I’m willing to pay as well, the jarred stuff just doesn’t work well. Help!!

  21. There’s a small Filipino grocery outside of Kadena’s gate 2. You turn left on one of the streets – I think it’s the one with Richie Rich in the corner. There’s also a good Filipino restaurant called Kabayan (food tastes more authentic Filipino food) near the outdoor paid parking area. Kabayan is on the 2nd floor of a building and has free parking underneath.

  22. I don’t know where a grocery is, but across from the Camp Courtney (main gate) there is a Thai Restaurant. They might be able to help you find what you need. Hope that helps. 🙂

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