The city of Corvallis is no stranger to international students. As a college town, students from every corner of the world flock to the Heart of the Valley in order to experience the warmth and small-town feel of Corvallis, Oregon. As a Southern California native with a multi-ethnic background, I’ve grown accustomed to the bustle and diversity that big cities often bring. After transitioning from the infamous L.A. traffic to the bike-friendly streets of Corvallis, my quest for local international markets began.
Corvallis has its fair share of delicious restaurants and cafés, but I constantly crave the Asian snacks I’d grown up with and the elusive ingredients commonly used in Asian dishes. An afternoon spent searching for milk tea powder would result in the discovery of not one, not two, but three international markets—all locally owned and operated by Corvallis inhabitants.
Initially, I ventured to Rice ‘n’ Spice (on Van Buren Avenue next to University Market) in search of milk tea powder and tapioca pearls. Both were found at the colorful, varied market, along with a mishmash of other childhood favorites. Pocky, Popin' Cookin' sets and a myriad of familiar seasoning packets—all tangible, edible remnants of my upbringing. The gentleman running the store, Mr. Kim, was full of vigor and enthusiasm as he pointed me toward the powdered drink shelves.
Rice ‘n’ Spice offers mainly East and Southeast Asian food items, as well as a variety of fresh produce. For those of you with a sweet tooth, try White Rabbit candies (creamy milk candy) or Azuki Bean Mochi. Those that prefer a more savory flavor—the ramen selection is overwhelmingly extensive. For the adventurous ones, balut is also sold here.
Hours: Monday-Sunday (10am-7pm)
#SpoonTip: This market is CASH ONLY, so be sure to hit up an ATM before you peruse the aisles.
Monroe International Market is a fairly new arrival to the international market scene in Corvallis. With bright lighting and perfectly organized displays, the snack selection is immaculately-curated. Sharing owners with the soon-to-be-mentioned Bazaar Market, Monroe International Market mainly boasts snack items in addition to freshly made hummus and specialty pastries.
During my visit, I was informed that a Hawaiian section would soon be added to the establishment—dangerous news for a li hing powder fanatic like myself. Monroe International Market’s accessibility to Oregon State’s campus makes it an easy stop for students and faculty in search of unique, flavorful snacks.
Hours: Monday-Friday (11am-10pm), Sat (1pm-10pm), Sun (1pm-9pm)
The final mention is a particular favorite—and for good reason. Bazaar International Market not only houses an insane amount of Middle Eastern food, but it also contains a restaurant, Al Jebal. The scents from the eatery coupled with the colorful displays create a visual cacophony that threatens to dissipate the self-control of every customer.
Shelves thrust Halva and Turkish Delight before my eyes, my arms threatening to collapse at a number of products I’ve gathered after a single pass through the market. The atmosphere is intoxicating; a black hole of sweets and delectable beverages. For anyone in search of novel and addictive treats, look no further.
Hours: Monday-Sunday (11am-9pm)
Whether you’re in search of a familiar foreign treat or looking to diversify your snack cabinet, all sorts of palates can be satisfied at these local international markets. Make the trek to South town, Monroe Street, or Van Buren Avenue in order to discover the plethora of unique foods that each establishment offers.