The newly expanded Dragon Star Oriental Foods in St. Paul is a wonder to behold. Upon entering, you’re struck by the size of the place — fruits, vegetables, deli offerings, dry goods, and cold beverages sprawl in every direction. And then you realize that there’s a back room. And then you realize that the back room is about twice as big as the (already respectably sized) market. This place sprawls, and within its chaotic hurly-burly an eagle-eyed shopper can find staples and oddities from not just Asian cultures, but from Latin and African cuisines as well.
You can also buy a pot large enough to cook an entire suckling pig, or several dozen whole chickens, for about $100.
And then, while checking out, you’re struck by another surprising minor detail: Pearson’s, the St. Paul-based maker of chocolate-enrobed mints and Nut Goodies, has two newish mini varieties of candy for sale ($1.50 for 3.25 ounces) The candies themselves are Pearson’s mint and coconut patties shrunk to the size of a quarter.
In terms of flavor, they hold up. The mint variety (made with real peppermint oil, they boast) has a serious mint kick, and while the dark chocolate doesn’t necessarily deliver at the level promised by the box’s “66% cacao” tagline, it’s really not too bad — certainly not that 50 / 50 mix of candle wax and sugar that passes for chocolate on most commercial-grade mint patties.
The coconut variety is even better. The real coconut that the patties are stuffed with lacks any of the grainy, gritty quality that sometimes brings down candy of this sort, and the balance between fruit and chocolate is good.
How they gained prominent placement at Dragon Star isn’t readily apparent, but who cares? When mini mints present themselves, it’s best not to ask questions.
Dragon Star Oriental Foods, 633 W Minnehaha Ave, St. Paul; 651.488.2567