Although Chinese food is delicious (and you can get great snacks all over the city!) sometimes you find yourself longing for some good home-cooked food from your own country. As an expat it can be difficult to find familiar groceries in China, but the following guide will give you 8 great places in Wuhan to hunt down foreign foods and ingredients so you can make yourself, your family, or your friends a great feast at home….
There are Wal-Mart stores in many different locations around the city, and it’s the perfect place for all your household needs. Wal-Mart sells a bit of everything, from food and drinks to electronics, toiletries and plants, and has a huge selection. Wal-Mart stocks many imported western foods, including cereals, biscuits, sauces, pasta, coffee and various canned foods.
There are also regular deals on offer for imported alcohol, such as scotch whiskey, French and Australian wine, and European beers. In addition, the Wal-Mart stores in China have a lot of choice when it comes to meat and fish, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. The only thing it is difficult to find in Wal-Mart is fresh savoury bread, as the bakery sections tend to sell only sweet breads, pastries and cakes, and often most of the baked goods are gone if you do your shopping late in the day.
Just like Wal-Mart, Metro stocks everything you could need from bathroom supplies and food to exercise equipment and stationary. However, rather than a regular supermarket Metro is a self-service wholesaler, which makes it the perfect place to purchase items in bulk for large families, events, or businesses.
It’s the perfect place for a big weekend grocery shop, with big trolleys and an enormous selection of products both from China and overseas. It is especially good for finding long-life goods, such as tinned foods, long-life milk, dried foods, and dairy products like butter. Metro also sells a lot of festive decorations like plastic Christmas trees, so you can still celebrate your favourite holidays in style while you’re away from home. The wine selection in Metro is also well worth the trip, offering imported wines from many different countries. At Metro you must complete a membership form to receive benefits, but it’s very simple to complete.
Sam’s Cub is an American chain of membership-only retail warehouse clubs owned and operated by Walmart. Similar to METRO Sam’s Cub is bulk purchase type of supermarket. Even selection is not that wide, some of the items you will find much cheaper when it comes in huge packages. Sam’s Club is an Membership-only supermarket which means you have to have membership card for 260 rmb for a year. You can purshase it at the entrence, just don’t forget to bring your passport.
If you really want to treat yourself head to Ole supermarket on the basement floor of the Wanda building next to Han street. Ole is a wonderful shopping experience, with a stylish and clean layout. Unlike the hypermarkets (like Wal-Mart and Carrefour) Ole is a smaller supermarket that specialises in high-quality groceries and foreign products. Ole has a large cheese counter with cheeses from all over the world (I even managed to find my favourite Dutch cheese there!) and a big choice of deli meats, for example smoked hams from Spain and German sausages. It also sells fresh organic vegetables, many western crisp and cereal brands and imported alcohols.
It’s also a great place to find health foods, such as Manuka honey from New Zealand, organic dried fruits and nuts, and medicinal teas, and there are also many child-friendly products like 100% fruit juices and gummy vitamins. If you’re a chocoholic you should definitely check it out too, as you can buy high-quality dark chocolate bars and special treats like Swiss chocolates. And if you want some comfort food but are feeling too lazy to cook, Ole also has various ready-meals, like chicken pie, fish and chips, or steak and mashed potatoes. Ole is very expensive compared to the other foreign supermarkets around, so it’s great for occasional luxuries rather than your big weekly shop.
If you’re looking for bargains Carrefour is the perfect place. It is very similar to Wal-Mart, in that it sells all kinds of food and everyday necessities, but I have noticed that Carrefour tends to have more deals and special offers. Carrefour’s selection of foreign goods isn’t as extensive as Wal-Mart’s, but you can still find many things like pastas, sauces, jams, curry pastes, and baguettes in the bakery section.
Whilst Carrefour is great for things like packs of bacon and frozen western ready meals, they have a limited selection of dairy – for example, they sell American cheese slices, but not blocks of different cheeses. The queues at Carrefour tend to get pretty long, especially at the branch in Guangu, so be prepared for the crazy lines if you go at lunchtime or after work.
Guangu Tiendi is a collection of shops and restaurants on Guanshan Dadao. There is a Wal-Mart, a French bakery, clothes stores, nail salons and a cinema. If you want to make a day of your shopping trip this is a great location – you could head to Wal-Mart for your groceries, pick up some beautiful French bread, enjoy one of the great western restaurants around and then see a movie. It’s also a wonderful place to take your kids for the day, with many children’s clothes and toy stores and funny cow statues. The bakery, located just beside the entrance to Wal-Mart, sells wonderful European breads and is perfect if you’re getting sick of the loaves you buy turning out to be sweet!
Chicony is a large shopping centre in Jiedaokou, straight on your right when you come out of metro exit B. It has some great little boutique clothing stores, and some fantastic restaurants on the fifth floor. However, the real treat for foreigners is on its underground level, where there is a food court, supermarket, and imported coffees and chocolates. The supermarket in Chicony doesn’t have huge choice of foreign products, especially compared to the hypermarkets like Metro and Carrefour, but it does have some American and European brands, such as Heinz beans and spaghetti, and imported sweets.
UP Market is a very small mid-range supermarket, more expensive than Wal-Mart and Carrefour, but more reasonable prices than Ole. Located on the basement floor of the Zhongnan Road shopping centre, you can get straight to upmarket from the C2 exit of the metro.
It has a few different kinds of butter and cheese, and some sandwich meats, as well as a decent selection of frozen ready-meal products like fries, battered calamari rings, steaks and pizzas. It also sells imported chocolates and biscuits, and is great to pick up cooked meats and sauces. However, it has a very limited choice of alcohols (mainly Chinese wines, but one or two imported brands), and doesn’t sell bread – although there is a small bakery just opposite the exit from the store where you can pick up nice fresh bread, and also a Kengee bakery close to the entrance of the supermarket.