I love Chinese food, don’t get me wrong. But there are times you really want to eat that dish your mom always makes, or you just want to bake some chocolate cookies…
While these would be no problem when living in one of China’s first tier cities like Shanghai, Beijing or Guangzhou, it gets trickier to find the right ingredients in second or third tier cities, and impossible if you live in a rural town like ours.
Recently I have had a few readers asking me where to get cheese or butter. And my answer is always: Taobao 淘宝, one of China’s biggest shopping platforms. There is nothing you cannot get. However, buying on Taobao isn’t that simple. After you have gone through the set up of your Taobao account (here is a great detailed explanation by Smartshanghai) and also set up your Alipay account to be able to pay for your goodies (here is a very helpful step by step guide on how to set up an Alipay account as a foreigner by BeijingKids), you will face the universe of unlimited choices of goods on Taobao. Even if you write and read Chinese, it will be very difficult to know which of the shops are reliable, which of the articles are fakes. It will take time and a lot of trial and error to establish a list of trustworthy Taobao shops.
To make it easier for some of you to start into the world of Taobao, I decided to share some of my most bought items the past months and their trustworthy shops. A while ago I have already written specifically about where to get baking equipment and ingredients (and the Chinese names for everything). Here’s a list of other random goodies I got the past month, and if you check their shops as well you will find most likely a lot of useful (and delicious) imported items…
Yes, I can hear you asking „Why would I wanna buy lentils?“…. Well, I really felt like cooking some lentil soup, some German style ‘Linseneintopf’, and somehow I couldn’t get any lentils in the local supermarket. This Taobao shop 山丹丹五谷杂粮店 has all kinds of different beans to offer, so it’s always worth a look if you like cooking with beans.
When don’t you need a good parmesan cheese? This specific vendor was recommended by a friend and their things are really good quality. Shipping is fast and has so far always been without damage. I am also buying their Spaghetti意大利面 a lot. Though sometimes our local Walmart has Spaghetti the price is unbeatable. Here you get 3kg Spaghetti which lasts for months. Also I can really recommend to check out the rest of the Shop 欧美食品大卖场.
Oh my, how could we live without German sausages… Frankfurter are the best and with all the imports now easy to get on Taobao. I can recommend this shop 卡萨莫迪娜旗舰店 all as it doesn’t only offer Frankfurter sausages but also other types, salami or ham! It’s like heaven for everyone who likes some German breakfast or simply needs some real ham.
I am a big fan of Chili con carne, but getting red kidney beans where I live is impossible. Luckily you can get them online. I have tried different shops already, and so far this one Taobao shop 各地选美食 has turned out to be the most reliable. They also offer different sauces or sorts of noodles.
Being Russian one of my favorite dishes is the Russian soup Bortsch. And in our family one of the major ingredients are beets. Traditionally beets don’t really belong to Chinese cuisine, so you won’t find them in the supermarket. I found this Taobao shop 龙驰食品专营店 selling sliced beets for a reasonable price and good quality. I also use it to make Russian salads. The shop also offers all kinds of olive oil (which I haven’t tried yet).
I admit it, I am a big fan of fries, and if you let me I could live on them. Going to McDonalds to get your fries fix just didn’t do the trick anymore. Plus I really wanted curly fries. This shop 意诺食品专营店 has lots of seasoning and other import goods, but their fries are amazing. I bought two packages during winter, and they are now occupying half of my freezer… but it’s worth it.
Honestly, Chinese chocolate sucks. While you can get some foreign chocolate brands in the local supermarkets, it’s mostly Snickers…
I do like to have my occasional German chocolate and this shop 真爱食品 offers quick delivery and lots of delicious imported chocolate.
I need my bread. I have tried all kinds of ways to make my own bread but the best has always been to use rye flour. I can’t get it in the local supermarkets here, so I found this amazing shop 双胞胎食品店 which offers rye flour imported from Russia. Of course you can also Chinese locally produced rye flour. I decided to go with this one because I always bulk order (to save on shipping) and this shop has an amazing collection of Russian sweets!
I know I have already written about baking ingredients which include butter and whipping cream, the shops I mentioned in that post are still good, but recently I have used this shop 家有猪鼻烘焙超市 to buy butter and whipping cream, because they were slightly cheaper than the other ones.
The list is by far not done… I could go on. But these were the last few things I got online the past months. Also, I recommend to buy things that have to be refrigerated like butter or fries during winter months. You can bulk buy and freeze them. During summer months it might not arrive in tact. Even though China’s postal service is amazingly fast, two three days in 30 degree heat will melt any butter (even though they wrap everything nicely with frozen packs for shipping).
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