Janet (left) and Roselynn Lau check customers out at Oriental Food Value, an Asian grocery store just off Southeast 82nd Avenue. Photo by Samantha Bakall/The Oregonian
Daryl Lau sank a large cleaver through a glistening side of crispy-skinned pork with rhythmic thunks as a diverse crowd of shoppers at Oriental Food Value gathered around a brightly lit case of roasted meats.
His uncle shuffled in and out of the roasting room behind the L-shaped meat counter, checking on four whole roasted pigs finishing in the oven. Lau’s dad stamped price tags on packets of noodles a few aisles over while his mom and aunt checked customers out by the front of the store.
Tommy, Paul and Jimmy Lau — Daryl’s father and two uncles — pooled their resources in 1992 and took over a former Tom Peterson furniture store on Southeast 82nd Avenue to open Oriental Food Value, a Chinese grocery store. Twenty-five years later, family members still run the store, and by next summer will open a second location near Happy Valley.
Asian grocery stores have served their communities across Portland for more than 100 years. Today, there are at least 50 stores across the area offering foods and ingredients from Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Thai and other Asian cuisines to the region’s 2 million residents. As local Asian-American populations have grown, both major grocery chains and locally owned stores have targeted the Portland area as an ideal place to grow their business. Some are big-box superstores, like 99 Ranch, a California-based Taiwanese chain, and H-Mart, an American-owned Korean supermarket chain. Others, such as Oriental Food Value and its upcoming second location, are family run.