I'm running out of reasons to go to Albuquerque now that Talin Market (505 Cerrillos Road, 780-5073) has opened its second location here in the City Different.
Located on the corner of Cerrillos Road and West Manhattan Avenue, Talin is part of the new Luna Santa Fe development and shares part of its space with the recently relocated Ohori's Coffee.
The market opened its first Albuquerque locale in 1980, when the now "International District" was more commonly referred to as the "war zone." Talin Market has played a major role in the rebranding effort, and its 30,000-square-foot space at Louisiana Boulevard and Central Avenue is a testament to the multicultural character of the area.
Owner Victor Limary says he never really considered opening a second store, but the opportunity to launch a neighborhood market in downtown Santa Fe appealed to him. Talin in Albuquerque is a shopping destination, while its Santa Fe counterpart is designed to serve shoppers who might buy fewer things but shop at the store more often.
It's easy to brush off the market as an "Asian grocery store," but Asian fare is only part of what it has to offer; shoppers also find a wide selection of foods from India, Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.
True to the misconception, I counted at least five different types of choy, plus a variety of Asian broccolis, eggplants, herbs and chiles. Talin also carries an array of frozen dumplings and filled buns, perfect for that dim sum brunch you've been dying to throw together.
No more shopping at Trader Joe's for kimchi and curries. Talin's got you covered.
Santa Fe's smaller, 5,000-square-foot space in town (a super-cool renovation of an old De Soto dealership) means you won't find everything that is carried in the ABQ sister store; but despite having limited space, the owners are trying to offer a little bit of everything.
Limary told me that he wants the new store to be "Talin Market," not "like Talin Market." And in that spirit, Talin is offering next-day delivery on special-request items from the mothership.
Perhaps the best news about Talin Santa Fe is its traditional Japanese noodle bar. I'll give you a minute to let that sink in. Yes, finally Santa Feans have a place to enjoy a delicious, freshly prepared and reasonably priced bowl of noodles without having to take out a second mortgage on their house or deal with an asshole chef.
I stopped in for opening weekend and was very happy with what I found. The menu is simple and straightforward: $4.95 lets you choose from one of three noodle types. A broth selection follows. I went with the light soy shoyu broth and rice noodles (tasty). The thick and rich pork-based tonkatsu broth ordered by the person sitting next to me looked really good, too. You also have the option of starting with a package of instant ramen, and building up from there, but why would you?
Save that action for a dinner-for-one at home, between paychecks.
Next, you choose your additional items like BBQ pork, tempura fish cake, bok choy, mushrooms and chile.
The add-on ingredients each range in price from 50 cents to $1. However, you might want to preserve the delicately balanced flavors of the dish itself, as the broth and noodles are the stars here.
Usually, I just order water when I'm eating out, but Victor convinced me to try a non-alcoholic green tea mojito. I was happy I did. The green tea/lime/mint/sparkling water concoction was crisp, tangy and only slightly sweet. And the fizziness did wonders to cool the burn of the spices I put in my soup. Seriously, the chiles are no joke.
Feeling a rumble yet? Head over to the new Talin Market. They have what you need, whether you're an adventurous home cook or someone who just wants a more authentic version of some of your favorite ethnic snack foods. It has a great selection of fresh seafood and meats, much of which you can't find anywhere else in town. The market has hired a new staff of around 25 employees from the Santa Fe area, too. Let's all help make Talin a lasting part of Santa Fe's food scene and the larger northern New Mexico community.
At A Glance
Serving: full-service, world-food grocery and traditional Japanese noodle bar
Menu: endless ramen combinations selected by you
Order up: 10-15 minutes depending on crowd
Recommendation: no one to blame but yourself