A Taste of Culture
Shining a spotlight on the cultural markets in our Hub City

A Taste of Culture

A Taste Of Culture

Did you know that you can enjoy a piece of Hispanic, African, and Asian culture right here in Aberdeen? The owners of each of these businesses strive to share a bit of their culture and want people to try their products. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Not only will you find different and delicious goods, but the customer service these owners provide transcend the items they sell. You know you are in a quality market because of their drive for providing authentic and traditional food and products and for the time, love, and effort they put into meeting and interacting with new people every day. Don’t just take my word for it, check out these amazing places for yourselves!

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Karen Asian Market

608 S. Congress St

If you’re looking for a wide variety of products to try, Karen Asian Market has you covered. Pawgaymoo Shee, her husband, Maung Lay, and their daughter, Moolay, are refugees from Thailand. They came to the United States and traveled to Omaha, NE, in 2007. Moolay, 22, is the co-owner and accountant of Karen Asian Market. She stayed behind to go to school at the University of Nebraska Omaha, while her parents moved to Aberdeen. They saw an opportunity to start the first Asian market in town.

“My parents realized in Aberdeen that they wanted to eat their native food but had no access to it. Not only that, but there was a lot of different ethnicities in Aberdeen but no Asian market,” Moolay said.

This is the main reason Pawgaymoo and her husband established their business in Aberdeen about four years ago. Karen Asian Market not only carries a variety of Asian food such as Thai, Myanmar, Filipino, and Vietnamese, but they also import South American food.

“We have stuff from all over,” Moolay said. That is her favorite part about their store—the wide variety of food to choose from. “It doesn’t always have to be only Asian food,” she said.

“We are very thankful for the opportunity to open up an Asian supermarket in Aberdeen. We try our best to cover as much for our people and for other ethnicities,” Pawgaymoo said.

The store is located at 608 S. Congress St. You can contact Pawgaymoo at 402-378-8631.

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J&J Golden Karen Asian Market

118 S. Main St

If you’re looking for some boba drinks, look no further than J&J Golden Karen Asian Market. June Bow and her husband, Joseph, are the owners of the Golden Karen Market on Main Street. June is a 28-year-old woman from a Karen population in the Southeast Asian country, Myanmar. She and Joseph moved to the United States as refugees in 2015 and moved to Aberdeen in 2017. When they settled here, the couple discovered there were a lot of old friends from Myanmar that lived here too.

June and her husband purchased the building for their business in October 2020 and are preparing to either expand or find a new place with a bigger parking lot.

“I love to meet new people,” June said. She talked about how she loved providing easy access to Asian food for everyone and creating an opportunity for people to try something new from a different culture.

“I just want people to know that I’m doing my best. I love to work, meet new people, and do my thing,” June said. She couldn’t stress enough how she is here every day and how much she loves the human connection she receives when meeting new people.

You can expect to find a wide assortment of Asian snacks, foods, and ingredients that are Thai, Korean, Filipino, Myanmar, and Chinese. In fact, every Friday she receives an import of fresh fruits and vegetables. In November, she had an abundance of bean sprouts, bok choy, and persimmons. If you ever wish to know what she has available, don’t hesitate to give her a call!

The store is located at 118 S. Main St. You can contact June at 605-265-1129.

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Dulces Hispanic Store

1111 Sixth Ave. SW

If you are looking to try a bit of Mexico that is more authentic than Taco Bell but closer than actually traveling to another country, then Dulces Hispanic Store is a great place to go.

José Salas and Joana Monterroso are the owners of Dulces. José was born in Chicago but moved to Mexico when he was only five months old. He came back to the United States at age 15, moving to California. He worked at a Chinese restaurant where he learned how to speak English from his manager. After moving and living in Los Angeles for 10 years and Utah for some time, an old boss of his invited José to move out to Aberdeen with him and work at the beef plant. This was about six years ago.

“We had a lot of problems not finding [traditional food] here. We’d sometimes have to drive in order to find it,” José said. “That’s when I told my wife, I think we need to do this. It’s a good idea to plant a store here.”

José’s mission was to give people of Aberdeen the opportunity to know more about his culture—especially the food. “We wanted to give something a little more traditional,” José said.

Dulces is not only a Hispanic market but also a bakery and a small restaurant. They serve items like burritos and homemade guacamole and chips.

“We would just want to tell all the people in Aberdeen to come and try what we have. And thank you all for supporting us. Everyone is welcome here!” Jose said.

The store is located at 1111 Sixth Ave. SW in between Perkins and the Salvation Army. You can contact José and Joana at 605-262-0363. Be sure to stop by for their free, yearly Barbacoa on Jan. 1 as a thank you to their customers and to God for their support.

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Honey’s Asian Market

614 Sixth Ave. SW

If you’re tired after work and don’t feel like cooking, Honey’s Asian Market provides homemade Asian cuisines made by the owner herself—and at an affordable price, too. Than Way and her husband, Hla Htay, are the owners of Honey’s. They came to the United States as refugees from Thailand in 2009. They decided to move to Aberdeen in 2016 because of their friends who live in the area.

After working at Molded Fiber Glass and Twin City Fan, Than and Hla figured that they wanted to try something new. So, they decided to open an Asian Market which has now been running for about eight months.

“I get to meet a lot of people and become friends with them. Everyone is my friend,” Than said. That is her favorite part about owning the business. She can become friends with everyone and anyone who walks through the front door.

Than prides herself in her home cooking that she sells. She loves making easy meals for those who are too tired to cook after work.

“Our English regulars love our Asian noodles,” Than said, but her favorite thing to make is the Asian salads.

If you’re not there for the easy meals, you can walk down the many isles and find a plethora of other Thai, Karen, and Korean products. Some products include fresh produce, snacks, drinks, baking products, and clothing. Honey’s even has frozen frogs and squid!

“I am just happy our business is doing well and am very grateful for all the love and support from the community!” Than said.

The store is located at 614 Sixth Ave. SW. You can contact Than at 614-917-7044.

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African Grocery Mandeeq

1713 Sixth Ave. SE

The African Grocery Mandeeq is not only a modest market but also a gathering center for the Somali community in Aberdeen.

Khalif Ali, 78, is the owner of African Grocery Mandeeq and founded the business three years ago. He is originally from Somalia, but he came to the United States in 2007 and lived in Kansas for work. He moved to Aberdeen in 2016 to work at the beef plant.

“The majority of the Somali population here in Aberdeen work at the beef plant,” Abdi, an attendee, said. Whenever they have a day off, they come here to hang out, talk, and seek counsel.

Like Khalif, other people from Somalia came to this area to work and send money back to their families in their home country.

“My favorite thing about the market is my product. Juice, rice, and meats. America is the land of opportunity! I saw the opportunity here, and that’s why I set up shop,” Khalif said. “Aberdeen has very good people.”

You will find a modest array of products like goat, lamb, sheep, seedless tamarind, and sometimes even camel. You will also find a prayer room, couches, and a Somali board game table.

“Let’s work together! Spreading peace and love,” Khalif said. //

The store is located at 1713 Sixth Ave. SE.