Buying doubanjiang (豆瓣酱) in or near northern VA?
October 20, 2012 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find doubanjiang (豆瓣酱) for purchase in or near northern VA?

I love Szechuan cooking, and the delicious spicy bean/chili sauce is perhaps the best part. I'd love to bring it into my own kitchen.

I tried the H Mart in Annandale and couldn't find any, but of course H Mart is Korean. I know there's a Great Wall in Merrifield but that's a bit out of the way, so I hoped I could check if anyone has bought it there before, or if you know a better place that's closer to me in Alexandria.

Somewhere that I could order it online would potentially also be of interest, but I was discouraged from buying it on Amazon by the fact that the shipping on a $10 jar of doubanjiang is $9.50.
posted by capricorn to Shopping (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There is an Asian market called Lotte in Fairfax right off of Route 50. Maybe try giving them a call?
posted by littlesq at 11:54 AM on October 20, 2012

Response by poster: Oh, and it appears based on Wikipedia I should specify that I'm looking specifically for là dòubànjiàng, i.e. the kind with chili peppers.

Wikipedia also says gouchujang is similar. H Mart carried that, so if I really will get the taste I like so much I'll happily go back to H Mart and get that instead.
posted by capricorn at 11:54 AM on October 20, 2012

My Safeway carries it, but my city is about 25% Chinese/Chinese-American. Gojuchang is different but delicious -- I can put it in anything. You should be able to find it in red tubs at your H Mart (and presumably Lotte).
posted by wintersweet at 12:49 PM on October 20, 2012

There's a Grand Mart on Little River Turnpike just west of 395. It's also Korean-run, but it's in your neck of the woods so worth a shot.

Another one worth trying is probably the supermarket in Eden Center, which is Vietnamese-run but has a lot of Chinese foods. Eden Center would sort of be on your way to Merrifield, so you could try there first, and continue on to Great Wall if you don't have luck.

Another angle might be asking one of the waiters in Hong Kong Palace in Seven Corners (which in spite of the name is a very good Sichuan restaurant) if they know of anywhere that carries some.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 1:21 PM on October 20, 2012

I've seen this brand at H Mart. The packaging on it is written as TOBAN DJANG.
posted by cazoo at 1:54 PM on October 20, 2012

Great Wall is definitely Chinese rather than Korean, so you might have better luck there. In the middle of the day when there isn't any traffic it's barely 10 minutes from the HMart in Annandale.

(Also, there's a Super H-Mart in Merrifield, a bit further along Gallows Rd. past the Great Wall, headed towards Tysons Corner. It has more stuff than the regular H-Mart in Annandale, and isn't quite as hyper-focused on Korean stuff in my experience. Might be worth a trip too.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:05 PM on October 20, 2012

If you're serious about DBJ, I recommend using taobao (through a so-called taobao agent). Taobao is the Chinese eBay, and has everything. However, it’s nigh-on impossible for the casual foreigner in China to use.

With an agent, they will buy the items and ship it to you abroad, for a relatively modest commission.

But it means you can pick up this douban, which is a top level 3-year fermented douban from Pixian. At 78元 for 500g, it’s a steal. It’s dark, dense and imparts so much doubaniness that you can get away with using much less, and consequently much less salt. It’s so deep and rich I’ve taken to adding it to everything that needs a resonant bass note of umami.

It seriously smells as fermented as an imperial stout, but tastes like the best douban you’ve ever had.
posted by flippant at 7:47 PM on October 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

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