Specialty, Shopping, Ethnic
For decades, Filipino expats flocked to Asian Best, a little grocery store on Middle Country Road in Centereach. Four years ago, Philippines-born Ysa Weller asked a friend of hers to stop by Asian Best to pick up a bottle of Rufina, her preferred brand of fish sauce. "You know the owners have that store up for sale," the friend told her. And that's how Ysa and her husband, Bob, came to be grocers.
The Wellers changed the store's name to Asian One Best, upgraded the equipment, restocked the shelves. In October 2010 they moved into a much larger store about two miles west on Route 25. The new space enabled the Wellers to install a full kitchen and a few tables. Now breakfast, lunch and dinner are served every day except Tuesday.
The kitchen menu at Asian One Best is strictly Filipino, but the store sells groceries from Vietnam (here's where to find rice paper noodles), Thailand (curry paste), China (wonton wrappers) and Japan (sushi fixings). About 80 percent of the wares are Filipino, though, and the aisles bear witness to the strong flavors of the island nation's distinctive cuisine -- the sourness of vinegar, the fermented pungence of fish sauce and shrimp paste. The legacy of the U.S. naval base at Subic Bay can be seen (and tasted) in cans of corned beef and Spam.
The store is a magnet for the local Philippine community, but it attracts a lot of non-Asian customers as well. "They come in for one of two reasons," said the Wellers' daughter Kia. "They are passing by, they see the sign and they're curious. Or, they saw something Asian on Dr. Oz."
"One day it's oolong tea," her mother recalled. "The next day it's shirataki noodles. People figure we have it. And we do."
Photo: Owners Bob and Ysa Weller, with daughter Kia, at Asian One Best Grocery in Ronkonkoma on April 30, 2012.Website Add an event Correct this listing