Hidden Gems: Oceanic Oriental Supermarket may be the best grocery spot in Tampa

Exterior of a supermarket with "Oceanic" written in red on the front

Oceanic Oriental Supermarket is one of the best grocery store’s in Tampa, and you can visit it at 1609 N Tampa Street

Tampa Street’s Oceanic Oriental Supermarket is probably the most convenient hipster millennial/cooking mom/broke college student food store in the Bay. Like, ladies—tell me this hasn’t happened to you:

It’s Saturday night, and you’ve got an intense craving for Korean BBQ wings. Instead of trusting your local Asian fusion spot to whip up a batch, however, you decide to be #edgy and cook them yourself. From there, you crack open a rosé, call a couple of girlfriends, and log on to Buzzfeed Tasty to search for the perfect recipe (that also takes minimal concentration because there’s a Schitt’s Creek marathon on that definitely needs your attention).

Fast forward an hour, your friends are over, and you suddenly hit a road bump— the recipe calls for “Gochujang.” 

Chicken, garlic, soy sauce, and Gochujang.

Well, given that you’ve never even heard of this elusive spice, you’re tempted to throw in the towel and just order takeout—but don’t ditch your efforts yet! All you need is an Asian grocery store, and, it turns out, you’ve got one nearby: Oceanic Oriental Supermarket.

Fresh duck available at Oceanic Oriental Supermarket | Photo by Kara VanDooijeweert

Serving restaurants, households, and hungry snackers

It’s no secret that Tampa Bay is home to some awesome Asian restaurants. It makes sense, then, that there also must be great international spice suppliers in the area. As we’ve already established, Oceanic Supermarket is one such destination that brings hard-to-find ingredients to your favorite local spots.

Oceanic Oriental Supermarket doesn’t just carry Gochujang paste and international restaurant inventory. Operating similarly to a full-scale grocery store, Oceanic’s shelves are lined with fresh produce, imported snacks, and rows of Asia’s finest teas. From far away, they look almost identical to traditional supermarkets, but up close, you’ll find a bunch of super  cool extras. 

Instant Boba Packs | Photo by Kara VanDooijeweert

Munchies and sweets to satisfy everyone

Now, let’s jump back into that story. 

You’ve finished your home-cooked Korean BBQ wings, but now you’re in need of some snacks for that Schitt’s Creek marathon. There’s some popcorn in your pantry, but you’re still in the Asian mood. What’s a girl to do?

If you answered, “Go back to Oceanic Supermarket,” you’re totally right. 

Once inside, and past the rows of spices, you’ll find yourself in a wonderland of imported treats. For your pals who tend to play it safe, you grab boxes of Pocky in decadent flavors (like chocolate banana and cookies and cream), and a bag of international Kit-Kats. In the freezer section, you also snag an “Instant Boba Pack” (the strawberry one, of course),  because you know they’re all the rage.

Selection of Pocky available at Oceanic Oriental Supermarket | Photo by VanDooijeweert

For those looking to expand their munchie horizons, however, you take an employees’ recommendation and pull down a box of Taiwanese pineapple shortbread cakes. With a soft fruit center enrobed in a dense buttery shell, these delicious pastries are a classic overseas, and you know you’ll love them. 

In fact, they look so good that you can’t help but take another box. 

The flavor on pack #2? Bubble milk tea filled.

Now, once you’ve loaded up your basket with snacks and goodies, you’ll need to navigate back to the register. As you pass through the aisles, you’ll notice packs of Mi Goreng instant noodles, frozen shumai, and traditional Chinese healing herbs. It is in this moment, that you’ll decide that Oceanic Supermarket is way more interesting than that run-of-the mill grocery store you usually shop at, and you vow to return ASAP.

And later, as your friends tear into your haul of international treats, you’ll know they’re coming with you.

Oceanic Oriental Supermarket is located at 1609 N Tampa St., and is open daily from 9am-5pm. To get more information on store offerings, shoppers can call (813) 228 8110, or visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Oceanic-Supermarket-212840685071/.

Kara VanDooijeweert is a current journalism student at Rutgers University. If you can't find her in the Bay's best restaurants, she's probably off exploring the wilderness. Catch her on instagram, @karanicolev.