MIDDLETOWN—Da Tang Supermarket opened its doors to the public on April 8 in downtown Middletown. The full service Asian grocery, which calls itself “a grocery as big as Asia,” offers foods and related items that appeal to anyone with a yen for Asian food.
DaTang wants to serve those interested in upscale Asian food products. The store offers a fresh meat and fish market, as well as a bakery.
The Asian food DaTang offers is not only Chinese. “We carry a great amount of Taiwanese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Indonesian, and Filipino food items,” said store manager Tom Du. “It’s really an Asian food store.”
Although Americans like Chinese takeout, Du said Da Tang will take Asian to the next level. “Chinese food represents Chinese culture that is really deep and profound.” He says the store will offer cooking workshops to learn how to cook and eat Chinese food. “I think that will help Americans to understand Chinese food culture.”
Chefs will give cooking lessons every week. For instance, they will show customers how to make authentic egg rolls or dumplings from scratch.
Cooking experts will show how to make healthy and delicious meals in a short time. “They don’t want to prepare a dish for a half an hour,” Du said. “You got teriyaki sauce, you got chicken. That’s it.”
Du has been in the grocery business for ten years and has studied the shopping differences between Americans and Asians. “If you see a market in Flushing or Chinatown in New York, it’s very different from a ShopRite or Hannaford.”
His goal is to make the store more comfortable to attract more Americans who are interested in Asian food. “A lot of Americans think that Asian food is more healthy. Asian food involves a lot of produce and fish and not too many fats,” Du said.
The store has a sushi bar, Chinese barbecue, and a Hong Kong-style bakery. Da Tang will sell whole fish—cod, haddock, Pollock, and salmon. Asians like every part of the fish, and Du said his Hispanic customers also like whole fish.
Hong Kong-style roasted duck and pork is unique. Du said, “Americans love it.”
A food court is being completed. Small vendor stalls will be set up so lunch time customers can grab a quick meal and sit in the food court. Orchids grown on only one farm in Taiwan will be sold.
In the Heart of Downtown
The store is in the heart of downtown Middletown. Store Manager Tom Du has been with the operation since last October, after it moved from its Dolson Avenue location where it had been since 2012. “I think this is a very good location,” Du said of its site near the corner of Main and North streets.
Parking for 150 vehicles in the back of the store can accommodate customers from outlying residential neighborhoods. Customers can leave their car and enter the store in the back through wide sliding doors.
The company bought the building in May 2015 for its commercial location. Du noted the growing Chinese population coming in and Fei Tian College, which is developing a site at the Middletown Community Campus.
The company gleaned marketing experience when it operated the Great Tang Supermarket for three years in Playtogs Plaza. Joan Rosenfelt patronized the store. On the store’s facebook page, she said “I got many excellent Oriental foods and other products here, and some of the veggies were excellent. It was like a bit of Chinatown in Middletown. I really enjoyed going there!”
Du expects business to grow among locals—Asians and Westerners—who appreciate quality Asian foods. “We think the Asian population in the area is growing rapidly. We are the only Asian food market here.” In the first phase, Du plans to hire 20-25 employees.
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