Driving down West Colonial Drive, a small sign proclaiming "Coming Soon -- Chinatown" may catch the eye. A project financed by Chinese investors, the former Wal-Mart shopping center will eventually house 60 pan-Asian businesses and restaurants.
For now, our first taste of the mall (and why it's called Chinatown remains a puzzle) is the 1st Oriental Supermarket (5132 W Colonial Drive; 407-292-3668), an ex-Publix now filled to the Pacific rim with a bakery, butcher, fish market and every exotic foodstuff known to man. The bakery serves up green-tea-red-bean rolls and taro cakes while a hot-food counter sells whole smoked ducks. Live tilapia swim in tanks looking out over cases of frozen gator and frogs. The produce section has everything from Chinese yu choy to sweet potato leaves and Vietnamese ngo gai. And, finally, there's a place to buy cuttlefish and black chicken.