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Rising market 

click to enlarge Hong Kong Market's bulk foods.

Hong Kong Market's bulk foods.

Hong Kong Market (925 Behrman Road, Gretna, 504-394-7075) gained a reputation for its extensive selection of Asian foods, particularly Vietnamese items. It has expanded in size and now offers a greater array of ethnic specialty items, bulk produce and wine and spirits.

  "Our Hispanic section, the Indian food, Caribbean — everything's grown," says Sean Lyons, a San Francisco bail bondsman who moved to New Orleans last June to spearhead the renovation for his sister-in-law, Hong Kong Market owner, Jennifer Campbell. "We're now a one-stop shop."

  The market added 11,000 square feet of space, including a walk-in produce cooler. Alongside banh mi and other prepared foods, there are Taiwanese drinks, exotic fruit smoothies and more. It has also increased its "American" department.

  Customers will notice the large selection of liquor and wine.

  "The wine and spirits section has really taken off like gangbusters," Lyons says. "People are coming in and buying $2,500 bottles of Hennessey Imperial Perdis — a top-of-the-line cognac. I didn't know this, but cognac's a big thing here at Hong King Market, a mainstay within the Asian community."

  Having connections in the restaurant industry, or just asking politely, could almost always get a customer some items in bulk at Hong Kong Market, but now that option is open to everyone.

  "We officially sell in bulk case now," Lyons says. "It was definitely part of the expansion — to put cases out on the floor. It's a huge part of our business with the restaurant industry. ... I had no idea who John Besh was. To me he's just a customer, a guy I see every so often. Then someone comes running up to him, 'Chef! Will you sign my cookbook?'"

  Hong Kong Market has attracted a diverse clientele. Lyons says he's taken aback: "You go to Berkeley (California) and walk around, and it's really diverse, and [New Orleans is] like that, but turned way up here on the West Bank. Asians, Africans... I've seen punks with mohawks shopping beside white-collar workers...everybody's well represented here."

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