Choua Lee (L) is the owner of Madison Oriental Market. Her daughter, Cynthia (R), helps operate the store. Photo by Lauri Lee

By Lauri Lee
Northside News 

A small specialty grocery market, Hmoob Oriental Market, has offered ethnic food products at NorthGate Shopping Center for the Hmong culture for many years. Hmoob, according to the Urban Dictionary, refers to the language of the Hmong people of Asia, and the word is actually pronounced more like Hmong. The “b” in the word modifies the tone of the preceding “oo.”

In February, the small market changed hands. “My nephew, Chia Yang, owned the store for eight or nine years,” said owner Choua Lee. Choua and her husband Kyle own the store and their daughter Cynthia works with them.

Soon a new name for the store will be visible on the storefront. “We love how culturally diverse it is on the Northside and we look forward to expanding what we offer,” said Lee. “We felt the new name, Madison Oriental Market, better reflects the selection we will be offering and our desire to serve all of Madison,” she said. “We not only want to carry specialty groceries for the Hmong and those who came to the Northside from Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, but other cultures as well. In the near future, we also want to offer Hispanic and African ethnic food. We are looking for suppliers and learning more about the types of specialty groceries needed for their cuisine.”

A specialty store is more in touch with their customers and able to customize the assortment for their regular shoppers in ways that larger grocers are unable to do. Supporting diversity, even when you’re talking oriental vegetables, is a good thing. When your favorite Asian recipe calls for goat or lamb, or you’re seeking a special cut, it is helpful to know the meat is available and cut directly at the market in a size or cut according to customer specifications. Another special service is that customers can buy in bulk by preordering a case of food.

Madison Oriental Market is located at 1197 N. Sherman Ave. in the NorthGate Shopping Center. It is open Monday–Saturday from 9 am‒7 pm, and Sunday from 9 am–6 pm. The phone number is 240-0846.