Cartimar, A Market Of Many Wonders
My friend M lives in Pasay and when she talks about her Manila and the explorations she goes on I am so intrigued. Her Manila and my Manila are so different. M invited me to meet her Manila so we spent the day marketing at Cartimar where she introduced me to her secret shops and sukis paborito. If you remember, M was the one who compiled the Ultimate Guide to Divisoria, so watch out - this guide will be epic as well.
On my first day in the Philippines, I visited a supermarket that shall remain nameless. I was disappointed in the produce. Surely the Philippines must have better fruits and veggies than this, I thought.
The next day my helper introduced me to Cartimar and it was love at first sight. Fruits and veggies galore! And they were fresh! And not wrapped in plastic! And priced reasonably! I’d discovered a treasure trove. Little did I know, I had only scratched the surface. As I returned to Cartimar over the next three years, I continued to discover its treasures.
Cartimar has given me so much joy that I probably owe it an ode. But I’m not very poetic, so this blog post will have to suffice.
How do I love thee, Cartimar? Let me count the ways:
JAPANESE STORES| I grew up eating my mom’s Japanese cooking, so it warmed my heart to find a whole row of Japanese stores. Many Japanese restaurants source their ingredients from Cartimar, so you can even find fresh ramen noodles, shiso leaves, and all sorts of specialty items.
2. KOREAN STORE| Not only does it have all the essentials of a Korean kitchen, it also has a butcher that can meet all your bulgogi needs (fresh or frozen). It also has freezers full of Korean popsicles and ice creams.
3. JAPANESE RESTAURANT| Oden House is run by a Japanese man, you can get good ramen plus a daily offering of fresh curry-pan. I have yet to try Arisoo, but I hear they have decent Japanese and Korean food too.
4. TOFU| I find local tofu too sour, so I get mine from TIONG-HWA. It’s frequented by Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese shoppers, so I’m not alone. They also sell frozen dumplings and pastries, and when I became a taho-fanatic like Amber, I was thrilled to discover that Tiong-Hwa also has an entire TAHO BAR with hefty serving sizes and a variety of toppings. (a full post on the taho bar coming later this week!)
5. CHESTNUTS| I’ll always cherish my memories of the freshly roasted chestnuts in the fruit section, hot off the coals every December.
6. SAVEMORE| It’s a small store, but it makes Cartimar a one-stop shopping experience for me; I grab produce in one area, then head to Savemore for anything else I need. There’s even a pharmacy inside.
7. PLANTS| Their garden center has planters, seeds, seedlings, herbs, orchids, shrubs, and trees. Our first Christmas in Manila, we bought a tree with local flare and have loved seeing it grow every year.
8. BIKES| Kids bikes, adult bikes, bike parts, and repairs are all available.
Kids bikes, adult bikes, bike parts, and repairs are all available.
9. PETS| Not a great environment for the animals, but they do have a variety of pet supplies. There is also a veterinarian.
10. DRIFTWOOD| Odd, I know. But it’s perfect for pet tanks, your yard, and it made my mom surprisingly happy during her visit because she uses it for ikebana (Japanese flower arranging).
11. COFFEE| I’m not a coffee-drinker, but apparently Blue Wonder Coffee & Bean Roastery is a fantastic source for good coffee.
12. KITCHEN SUPPLIES| There’s a nice store for kitchen supplies across from Savemore.
13. SHOES| I know people who have stocked up on shoes at Cartimar before returning to the US.
If you’ve never been to Cartimar, you may be wondering…
Is there PARKING? Yes, on the streets in front of the stores, and also on the structure above the produce section.
What are the HOURS? Because many restaurants source their veggies from Cartimar, the produce section starts business around 3 a.m. I once went at 6 a.m. and it was extremely crowded. I try not to go to Cartimar past noon because by that time the meat smells have permeated the place. If you’re going to the other shops, however, they open around 8.