The closest thing to a wet market in the US would be a farmer’s market, but a few key differences make the Asian version truly unique. First, there’s far more “livestock” than I’ve ever seen at a farmer’s market in the states. By “livestock” I mean tanks or cages full of eels, crabs, catfish, turtles, and frogs. There’s also some not so “live”stock: giant prawns and fresh fish on ice, as well as stands dedicated to specific types of meat (pork, beef, lamb, and chicken).
The other key difference is the type of fruits and vegetables that you’ll find in their respective sections of the market. In the veggie section, there was a box full of muddy lotus roots, crates full of “young” and “old” ginger, and many other vegetables that I couldn’t even identify. The fruit section was alive with color: bright pink dragon fruit, spiky green and red rambutans, deep purple mangosteens, and yellow Malaysian mangoes.
The name “wet market” comes from the fact that the markets are open air and hosed down throughout the day. The water is used to keep the “livestock” fresh as well as to clean up the meat stands after butchering.
While grocery stores are abundant and can be reasonably priced, the wet market provides a much more personal experience. It appeared that many of the local shoppers were friendly with the sellers, and both shoppers and sellers alike were more than happy to answer any questions I had about what an item was and how best to prepare it.
We arrived right when many of the vendors were closing up, so I didn’t get to take as many pictures as I had hoped. Click here to see the few I took. I promise to post more after our next visit!