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I love living in the city, but one of the things I miss most about the suburbs is my local 99 Ranch Market. The largest Asian grocery chain in the country, it’s the place to find Chinese produce, meats and live fish, pastries, snacks, condiments, and much more. Not to mention, it’s a source of comfort and familiarity to many members of the Asian diaspora.
Since I do not have a car or live close to any Asian markets, I make tiresome and sweaty subway trips to Chinatown. Not to say the reward of fresh lychee, crispy roast duck, and all the frozen scallion pancakes my freezer can hold is not worth the sacrifice – I just would not mind an easier solution.
That’s why I was super excited about the launch of Umamicart in March 2021. Umamicart is an online shop created by Andrea Xu, a self-described “third-culture kid” (Xu was born and raised in Spain to Chinese parents before she moved to New York City) who wanted to design a convenient digital shopping experience for people who love Asian food products and fresh, top-quality produce and meats.
For anyone who does not have regular or convenient access to Asian groceries, Umamicart is a great option that’s not only reliable but also truly fun to shop.
Umamicart delivery is currently available in the Northeast US You can check to see if it delivers to your area here. Same-day delivery is available in select New York City zip codes, and you can get next-day or scheduled delivery in all other zip codes in its coverage zone.
All deliveries arrive in insulated boxes with ice packs, and you do not need to be home to receive your packages.
You do need to spend a minimum of $ 30 in order to check out, and orders under $ 49 have a $ 6.99 delivery fee. If your cart is over $ 49, delivery is free. From personal experience, I can say it’s not too hard to reach that free delivery minimum.
As for the actual shopping, it’s not unlike other online grocery services. You can shop by department and category, like Vegetables, Seafood, Pantry, and Snacks. You can also search products directly by name if you know exactly what you want.
If you’re in discovery mode, Umamicart offers curated lists based on themes like Staff Picks and Southeast Asian Pantry. Lastly, there’s a cool Recipes sectionwhich makes it easy to shop everything you need to make a particular dish.
Umamicart’s offerings and highlights
Right now, Umamicart focuses on East Asian and Southeast Asian products. These are some examples of items you’ll find (subject to seasonality) in particular aisles:
- Fruits and Vegetables: Dragonfruit, Korean melon, white pear, bok choy, gai lan, Taiwanese cabbage, Thai basil, ube
- Meats and Tofu: Natto, shirataki, preserved duck eggs, thinly sliced beef and pork belly for hot pot and BBQ, longanisa, tofu skin
- Seafood: Sashimi grade tuna, fish balls and fish cakes, tinned mackerel
- Ready to Eat / Frozen: Tteokbokki, shao bing flatbreads, red bean buns, instant ramen, udon kits
- Noodles, Rice, and Grains: Rice noodles, dumpling and wonton wrappers, mung bean, multiple varieties of rice
- Pantry: Furikake, ponzu sauce, gochujang, pandan kaya, cooking wine, rice vinegar
The site has many more departments to browse but you get the point: it’s all the products you’d find at your local Asian grocery store and more, at accessible prices.
What I also love about Umamicart is that it sells the classics (Lee Kum Kee sauces, Lao Gan Ma chili crisp, Calbee chips, Yakult yogurt drinks, etc.) along with products from newer Asian-American brands (Omsom starter kits, Sanzo sparkling water, Yishi oatmeal, Fila Manila Sauce). It’s reflective of the unique way that Asian-Americans eat and drink today – honoring the traditional while embracing creative twists.
My experience with Umamicart
Umamicart set me up with a credit to try the service for myself. It was a breeze to find what I wanted, plus I came across interesting brands that I had never tried before. I also thought the design and navigation were better and more organized than that of Weee!another online Asian grocery service I’ve tried.
I picked out some essentials like soy sauce, sweet potatoes, and noodles, along with a few fun items like jelly drinks, a ready-to-eat BBQ pork bun, and tapioca starch to make my own boba at home.
Produce and protein prices on Umamicart aren’t always consistent with those of
delivery services like Amazon Fresh and FreshDirect. Honeydew, for example, was more expensive on Umamicart, but yellow onions were cheaper. Branded and packaged Asian products, however, were unanimously less expensive on Umamicart.
My order arrived safely and on time, with fruits bundled together and bottled items packed with protective covering. The produce items were fresh and delicious, and I was glad to taste-test some new products like Kimino Yuzu Sparkling Juice and Us Two Oolong Tea.
Cons to consider
Since Umamicart is continuing to update and expand its product options, it might not have the level of breadth and depth you’d find at your local specialty market. Still, it’s miles better than the single “ethnic” aisle in a chain supermarket, and the convenience of delivery makes the experience worth using.
The bottom line
I loved using Umamicart to buy Asian groceries. It cut down on the amount of time and effort I typically spend grocery shopping in person, but it was just as fun and discovery-friendly as a physical store. I’ll certainly be using it more often to buy all the foods and drinks that give me a taste of home.
Pros: Variety of classic and new Asian brands, user-friendly navigation, curated collections, fast delivery
Cons: Minimum purchase required, some produce is more expensive than average, may be less comprehensive than a local Asian specialty market