Hidden Gems: MD Oriental Market in Pinellas Park is your new favorite grocery store

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MD Oriental Market in Pinellas Park might be the best grocery store in all of Pinellas County, and it is so worth the trip.

For those of you who are not familiar with MD Market, let me give you a quick rundown. MD is a “specialty grocery store” with a heavy Asian influence. Sure, they have all your old reliables (like chicken, fish, and fresh produce), but they also have curries, noodles, and brown sugar boba tea popsicles. So, they’re pretty much exponentially cooler than that chain grocery store that you’re shopping at.

Assortment of cakes behind glass in a grocery store

Get your mochi fix at MD Market

But there’s more to MD Oriental than just their abundantly lined shelves of peanut mochi and freezers stocked with shumai. They’ve got a buffet line of hot food, jumbo tanks of live lobster, and a grand cake display that emphasizes the delicate detail customary of Asian pastry art.

From China to Japan, and India to Vietnam (with a quick stop in Korea, of course), this international superstore will take you on a culinary tour of Asia’s finest—no passports required.

And, if you’re more of a “play it safe” eater, they’ve also got Lays chips in a bunch of cool flavors.

Assortment of fresh baked ham buns at a grocery store

Experience Hong Kong custard tarts

Here’s the problem with being a foodie; you can’t stop anywhere without grabbing something to eat. Before arriving on site, I figured my Park Plaza doggy bag would be filled with a few to-go cups of make-at-home udon. I mean, who doesn’t like a good helping of nostalgic, savory noodles?

But upon entering MD Oriental, I was consumed by the sweet scent of Hong Kong custard tarts and stir-fried vegetables wafting from their industrial ovens. It was in that moment, enticed by mouth-watering treats, that I realized I’d probably be coming back for lunch. Or just throwing in the towel and eating lunch at 10:32am.

The latter happened. I blame the honey-glazed scallion buns.

Asian-influenced hot bar

With an Asian-influenced hot bar brimming with tender pork and orange chicken, a to-go line of fresh sliced sushi and sashimi, and a bakery stocked full of sweet and savory pastries (go at 10am and they’ll still be on the tray), MD Oriental makes a quick, tasty, and unconventional lunch break option.

Out of the buns, I’d recommend the ham and scallion, as well as the classic pork. Or, if you’re looking for something new, try the pillow-looking hot dog bao—the chef swears by it.

When it comes to the hot bar, my favorite is the lo mein. Call me basic, but it’s just so damn good.

A baker holding a fresh pastry

Fresh baked pastries are on the menu, and grocery list

Oh—and like I was saying, the sweet pastries! If you leave without getting dessert, you’re doing the lunch break thing wrong. Go for the egg tarts, or the twisty almond bread. And don’t worry about the fact that you don’t know what they’re actually called.

Your new favorite “mom and pop” grocery shop

Ready to say goodbye to your run-of-the-mill, chain-churned superstore? Then head on over to 7580 49th St. North in Pinellas Park and pay MD Oriental Market a visit.

And as you leave, cheeks filled with sushi-grade tuna, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Shoppers planning their MD Oriental Market can visit the store’s Facebook page, or reach them by telephone at (727) 954-8876.

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Kara VanDooijeweert is a current journalism student at Rutgers University. If you can't find her in the Bay's best restaurants, she's probably off exploring the wilderness. Catch her on Instagram, @karanicolev.