I needed a bamboo mat. I haven’t made sushi in years, and to shape it right, I required that rollable slatted sheet. I also needed a bowl – one of those big, ceramic vessels that can fit anything from pho to poké to beef noodle soup. And chopsticks – not the disposable takeout kind, but a permanent set. Something I could use to teach my son.
Good Fortune Supermarket has all these things. Nestled into the industrial outskirts of Providence, Good Fortune has been packed to the gills with meat, seafood, produce, and dry goods since 2018. If you want to find entire freezers full of mochi ice cream, this is the place to find it. Sacks of specialized rice? Check. Edamame, seaweed packets, and tanks of live crabs? Head to Good Fortune.
Now, your household may already cook authentic East Asian meals, so none of this is news to you. Yet for many Rhode Islanders, a visit to Good Fortune is a refreshing adventure. You can spend an hour among the aisles and never hear a word of English. Good Fortune has plenty of Western foods, like red apples and cans of Goya beans. But instead of a few shelves of “International” foods, as you’d find at other grocers, Good Fortune caters to actual East Asian cuisine, much of it labeled in its language of origin. You’ll find mountains of frozen dumplings, the same you might purchase and steam in a Shanghai apartment. You’d be hard-pressed to find a hardboiled egg marinated in soy sauce at Shaw’s, but here, you can fill your cart with them.
Since opening, Good Fortune has added a separate room for utensils, flatware, and appliances. I quickly found my mat and chopsticks, and I also browsed the woks, knives, and calculators. Then I stopped by the hot-food bar, which is responsibly armored in a wall of Plexiglas, and ordered lo mein and some kind of deep-fried fish.
I say “some kind of deep-fried fish” because I have no idea what it was; I couldn’t read the signage, and the whole interaction was carried out in physical gestures. For outsiders, this is part of the pleasure of visiting Good Fortune during a pandemic: The market isn’t designed for our convenience. Even the website is presented in Hànzì characters. Seasoned travelers will feel that blissful disorientation, the need to problem-solve, to explore, to rely on the help of strangers – and maybe even pantomime. In terms of hospitality, Good Fortune clerks have gone to great lengths to guide me through the store, personally escorting me from one end to the other. The last time I felt this special blend of effort and trust, I was in an actual Taipei night market.
In short, you don’t have to fry up Szechuan masterpieces on a regular basis to enjoy this market. We’re all lucky to have Good Fortune.