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by Janet Ross
A few months ago, on the way to a Moana Lane appointment, I noticed at large display sign at the site of a former furniture store near the Northeast corner with S. Virginia Street. Asian Mart it declared in bright red letters. Worth investigating, I thought. It took a few weeks before my daughter and I returned to the 115 E. Moana Reno location. What we discovered was a huge new business devoted not only to Asian food, but a fascinating mix of other Asian imports as well. After browsing the entire Mart we indulged in Chinese melon and coconut candies and frozen shrimpstuffed dumplings to cook at home.
Weeks later the Asian Mart had another sign, this one announcing their Grand Opening with an adjoining restaurant (more on that later). On the second visit the Chinese melon candy had disappeared, but dozens of new sweet treats had been added in its place. This time I came prepared to take notes. Three pages and an hour later, I gave up my inventory of Asian Mart contents overwhelmed by the variety of products on offer.
What follows is a list that barely begins to note what you can find at Asian Mart. As you enter, on your right, there's a small selection of decorative fans in a small display case. The fans are followed by an area devoted to clothing, what appears to be mostly jackets and scarves for women. Past the clothing there are oriental vases that range from small to gigantic, decorative swords, embroidered silk pictures, garden fountains and fancy tea sets. Moving on you'll find an area featuring kitchen utensils, pots, pans, rice cookers and chopsticks (bamboo and metal styles). There are steamer baskets, porcelain bowls (some with adorable kitty decorations), and cleaning supplies.
Now we move to food with bulk bags of rice (many varieties) at the entrance followed by snacks of all types, beverages by the case, cookies and candy. Next there are cases filled with frozen foods; birds (with feet still attached), whole fish, cubes of goat meat, green onion pancakes, dumplings, sweet and savory steamed buns, and so much more. Fresh produce displayed in the area includes Chinese celery, Lemon Grass, young Coconuts, Bok Choy, etc.
Long rows of shelves are stocked full of Asia Mart, at 115 E. Moana Lane, is open daily with hours MondaySaturday from 9 a.m. To 7:30 p.m., Sundays from 10:30 to 7 p.m. The restaurant inside the store wasn't functioning on either visit, despite that big sign outside; that may have changed by the time you read this. Asian Mart is an adventure in the unfamiliar, well worth a leisurely browse.
An old favorite, also on Moana Lane, is the Moana Lane Garden Center with its florist, greenhouse and gift shop. It had been a few years since my last visit, so it was a pleasure to get reacquainted with this family business that's been serving Reno and Sparks for 50 years.
The weather wasn't ready for planting in March when I stopped in, so I concentrated on what's indoors at Moana Nursery. The florist and gift shop combination is a delight and the perfect place to find a unique present. I was intrigued by decorative strings of cotton bolls – be someone from the Deep South would love to have them. There's an attractive selection of botanical soaps and lotions in pretty packaging. If you're in the mood for a summery hat, check out what's on offer here.
The Greenhouse is just that, filled with magnificent tropical green plants and elegant orchids, all begging for a new home. Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop has a spot inside; check out their bird feeders and bird seed varieties. (Our birds love their “no mess” mix ... a little too much.)
Moana Nursery has always been staffed with “plant doctors” eager to answer your questions or offer practical advice. Many of the plants come from Moana's 280+ acre growing nursery in Oregon. There are monthly seminars and events on Saturdays at 10 a.m. (Admission is free, but limited to the first 60 participants.) Check the website for details at www.moananursery.com. Over the years the original business has expanded to a pair of other locations, one in Spanish Springs and the other on S. Virginia Street. The Moana location includes a Landscape & Design Center featuring Waterwise Irrigation, Hardscapes and Field Turf.
Moana Lane Garden Center, at 1100 W. Moana Lane, Reno, is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. To 6 p.m., Sunday from 9 a.m. To 5 p.m. Telephone 8250600. When the weather is good, weekends can be very busy, for good reason. If you have never been, try an early weekday morning for your first visit. Forget about the bigbox garden vendors and shop local!