It’s kind of like the middle child — people forget it’s there.
Li Ming’s Global Mart in Greensboro on West Gate City Boulevard has been around since fall of 2012, but it’s continuously overshadowed by its popular older sibling, Super G Mart, despite the fact that it’s existed for almost a decade. Sure, Super G has become known as the go-to, one-stop-shop for global foods in Greensboro and it’s a bit more conveniently located than Li Ming’s, but those who visit Li Ming’s will find that the offerings and the prices for products are about the same. Plus, the food is better.
That’s right, Li Ming’s has its own restaurant and bakery — which Super G Mart doesn’t have — and some (me) might argue that it’s better than whatever new, probably short-lived restaurant takes up residence inside Super G.
At Li Ming’s, the food stall is located just past the entrance on the right-hand side. An Asian buffet with more than a dozen offerings is available to customers as a “two items plus rice” combo for fast-food prices or they can order a complete entrée from the menu board with options ranging from General Tso’s chicken to spicy salted prawns or a whole steamed fish. And it’s open every day the grocery operates, which is seven days a week.
At the buffet, plenty of meat, seafood and vegetable choices create hundreds of possibilities for a two-item plate. On a recent Sunday afternoon, customers line up at the counter to fill up before shopping and ticking items off their lists. The food counter only takes cash, so customers should make sure to bring some or they can take their ticket to the grocery registers to pay with a card and bring back the receipt to the counter to collect their food.
The ladies behind the counter don’t speak much English so customers will have to be patient as they order or ask questions about the food, but it will be worth it.
As mounds of short grain rice, savory meats and spicy vegetables are loaded onto a Styrofoam plate, the heft of the food weighs heavy in customers’ hands. It’s enough to share between two people or spread across multiple meals.
The sautéed Chinese eggplant comes sweet, with just a hint of spice, and is cooked in a golden brown sauce. The soy-based gravy coats the chunks of tender eggplant — a different variety than its popular Italian cousin — and almost melts in the mouth. The lightly sautéed green beans with garlic act as a palate cleanser to saltier choices like the honey chicken or sweet and spicy pork. Crisp onions and slices of winter melon add texture to the shrimp stir fry which comes tossed in a Moo Goo Gai Pan-style sauce with a subtler flavor. Lightly curried chicken with potatoes adds a different depth of flavor to the mix. The buffet also offers simple yet satisfying dishes like its smoky roasted potatoes or stir-fried Chinese greens to round out a meal. The variety and affordability of the buffet gives customers the chance to keep coming back to try a new plate every time.
Li Ming’s also boasts a beautifully crafted pastry and cake section that’s right next to the buffet, a perfect complement for after lunch or dinner. Savory buns with sausages and green onions sit individually wrapped in plastic next to sweet red bean buns and cream puffs. In a nearby refrigerated display case, meticulously decorated sponge cakes topped with slices of bright green kiwi and glistening strawberries beckon customers to make room in already full stomachs.
Customers can order whole cakes for birthdays or other celebrations from this section. Cute, Hello Kitty-esque characters are drawn or sculpted out of frosting and stare out from behind the glass.
Besides the hefty amount of food customers get from the restaurant, the other appeal of eating at Li Ming’s is the fact that customers can attempt to make what they’ve had at home by buying the ingredients in the grocery store just a few yards away.
Like Super G, Li Ming’s has a varied produce section with vegetables like Chinese chives, that are at times fresher than those found at Super G. The store also has a seafood and meat section as well as a home-goods area to stock up on items like cutlery or cushions.
After almost a decade, it’s time that Li Ming’s gets the recognition it deserves. Plus, they say you shouldn’t shop while hungry — Li Ming’s has that problem solved.
Li Ming’s is located at 3703 W. Gate City Blvd. in Greensboro and is open everyday starting at 9 a.m.