Where to Buy Western Groceries in Nanning

Where to Buy Western Groceries in Nanning
By Caitlin Dwyer , eChinacities.com

In Nanning, eating out is a casual, savory affair: rice noodles, pork ribs on a stick, crisp-skinned lemon duck, the stench of black tofu and the fragrance of ginger.  Restaurants make these dishes with ease. But when I try to recreate them at home, my kitchen is ill-equipped for these Chinese ingredients. Do I start with the onions, or add them later? When do I add the oil, and how much? What exactly will a wok do to my food?  For a Westerner who wants to cook at home, even shopping for groceries can confound.

Recently, I was staring at the array of pickled vegetables in front of me, trying to guess which one was mustard cabbage. I had never heard of this mysterious vegetable, but the Chinese recipe I wanted to try called for it. I eventually bought something that looked like a boiled artichoke that had been soaked in chili oil and perhaps beaten with a hammer for several years. I had no idea how to prepare it.

Shopping at a Chinese grocery can be startling. Is that vacuum-wrapped chicken feet?  Are those chocolate chips or red beans? Is that milk really black? Aspiring chefs may panic, not knowing where to start or how to shop for their own kitchen. While I recommend trying to cook Chinese style, sometimes olive oil just seems necessary. When you’re hit with a desire for crusty French bread, head to one of Nanning’s Western groceries.  While no store exactly corners the market, each offers a few familiar items: no mustard cabbage in sight.

1) The Pantry (福林诺食品)View In Map

The joke goes that after the Apocalypse, the Pantry will still carry cereal. Set back from the street in a palm-shaded courtyard, this Western grocery has the look of a bomb shelter: a fine layer of dust, some rust around the rims of the food cans. But despite its utilitarian décor, the Pantry carries the essentials: baking supplies, olive oil, spices, and Doritos.  With seasonings ranging from hot sauce to cinnamon the Pantry makes a good stop if you’re craving familiar flavors in your cooking. Canned goods, such as refried beans, run around 25 RMB; a box of cereal costs around 50 RMB. The refrigerator, stocked with cream cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, whipping cream and gouda, has been known to cause joyful weeping among dairy-starved expats. The cheeses here are cut from a large block and priced by weight, between 30-50 RMB each. Another freezer holds rashers of bacon (15 RMB). During the holidays, the Pantry carries frozen seasonal meats, such as Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas hams. They also sell a selection of foreign liquors.

Add: 34 Minzu Dadao, Nanning, just to the left of the Guangxi Minorities Museum
地址: 南宁市民族大道34号广西博物馆大门左侧一楼
Tel: 077 1281 4209
Opening Hours: 09:30-19:30

2) U-MartView In Map

This Australian chain is hidden on the sixth floor of the Dreamland (Meng zhi dao) shopping mall. Compared with the delightful grabby chaos of a Chinese grocery, the U-Mart seems shockingly orderly. Among the neat aisles of goods you’ll find boxed Australian milk, both full cream and skim (26 RMB). To make a complete breakfast, pick up a bag of muesli (25-35 RMB). Or dip a digestive biscuit in some milk since the U-Mart carries a large variety of digestives and western-style cookies. Chocolate fiends will be tempted to shell out nearly 100 RMB for an artisanal chocolate bar. The U-Mart also carries a variety of Japanese and Korean snacks, as well as standard Chinese grocery items.

Add: 49 Minzu Dadao, Nanning, inside the Dreamland Mall on the 6th floor
地址: 南宁市民族大道中段49号梦之岛百货有限公司
Tel: 077 1285 3523
Opening Hours: 09:30-22:30

3) The Babel Store (吧别塔杂货铺)View In Map

The newest grocery in town, this tiny store packs a lot of punch into its real estate. A display case of lemons and limes caught my attention (2 RMB each), as well as a rack of tempura batter, curry paste, and coconut milk for Thai-style cooking. The Babel Store has slightly different cheeses than the Pantry (usually in smaller but cheaper portions). But its real strength is in its baked goods. The store offers daily selections of homemade sourdough baguettes, as well as French and wheat loaves which are crusty and soft in the center (10 RMB/loaf). They also bake pies and cakes to order. I tried the chocolate cake on my birthday, expecting a fluffy Chinese-style angel food; in fact, it had an almost graham-cracker crust, with a rich, dense chocolate interior. After shopping, perch at the coffee bar and chat; the store serves espresso drinks, and also sells whole-bean and ground coffee by the pound (60-120 RMB/pound).

Add: Minzu Dadao, inside the Sunshine 100 complex. It’s on the north outside rim of the building, facing away from the courtyard.
地址: 南宁市民族大道,100 阳光72栋1166号
Tel: 159 7770 2623
Opening Hours: 10:00- 23:00

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Keywords: Western groceries in Nanning Western food in Nanning Shopping for Western food in Nanning Cooking western food in Nanning


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Mar 28, 2022 07:33 Report Abuse



Feb 13, 2022 12:32 Report Abuse


The Pantry is no longer in operation. The U-Mart can hardly be classified as selling western food. Babel is under new owners and nobody speaks English but they still carry much of what they did: Bacon, Ham and a wide variety of cheeses along with the canned, boxed and bottled western foods. WalMart of course carries some western foods but prices are not too good. I have found several local 'baking' stores in my neighbor that each carry a different variety of western food, so much so that I now only rarely go to Babel. Babel still has the best selection of cheese. But lately I have taken to contacting my friend Ling at 2387493830@qq.com to buy western food and have it delivered. She can get almost everything. Off topic but I also found a 'Big & Tall' clothing store today, I am 6'4" 250 and finding clothes was impossible. Also shoes to size 47, about US size 11. NW corner of Xinghu Rd and Yuanhu Rd.

Nov 01, 2016 13:55 Report Abuse


wal mart has the best selection of western food now, the pantry is old and so is the food, well expired.. ole,s is also a good place for western food but they are expensive, wal mart the way to go..

Apr 28, 2013 18:05 Report Abuse


good comments Richard, hit the nail on the head... Lovely people here, im a kiwi and love the place, unfortunately I don't have a pool in my complex, yours sounds good lols.

Apr 28, 2013 18:11 Report Abuse


There's a lady on the GXU campus that will deliver some western products to your door at a fair price.
She speaks English fluently and Chinese of course.
Her name is Heidi and her phone number is: 159-9438-4251

Jul 17, 2012 21:53 Report Abuse