It’s supposedly my due date.

My greatest fear is that I’ll have no idea that I’m going into labor arrive at the hospital too late for an epidural.

I’ve been carrying around a handout my medical providers gave for weeks that describes when to go to the hospital and provides the emergency phone number.  Now it’s as soft as fabric from me opening and closing it so many times.

“Consume clear fluids! Avoid fatty foods. . . ” it advises if you feel like labor is starting.

“I think I have enough time to get a Korean corn dog,” I said to Jake as I grabbed my car keys and hobbled to my car.

At first I thought of going to Dragon Star to check out their Korean corn dogs, mochi doughnuts and bubble tea, but changed my mind to Ha Tien.

I just finished Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner – I started it during my last maternity leave thinking I’d have plenty of time to read books.

As I wandered through the grocery store, I wondered if I’d have to call my memoir My Water Broke in Ha Tien.

Ha Tien is located in a former Byerly’s. The carpet seems to be gone now. It’s a very large Asian grocery store with a baked good section, deli complete with roasted pork and duck, and bubble tea shop.

Every time I’ve visited before, I arrived too early for to catch the deli and bubble tea shop in full-swing. This time I arrived at noon on Monday.

J Tea – Bubble Tea
Despite the countless bubble tea flavor combinations and toppings, I return to my favorite: Jasmine green milk tea with boba. If I don’t order it, I usually wish I had.

J Tea’s drinks come in two sizes, medium and large. The medium is quite sizable – the price of my jasmine milk tea with boba totaled over $7 which was more than I expected based on the menu price.

I forgot to ask if they could adjust the sweetness level and they didn’t ask. Usually I order 25%. The tea was sweeter than I prefer, but wasn’t undrinkable. The boba was pleasantly chewy. I saw them pour the milky tea from a pitcher which they confirmed is made with a non-dairy creamer.

I was struck by the high quality take-out cup.

My favorite local boba is Tealicious in Little Canada. Their 25% sweetness level is perfect and they can make the milk tea with coconut milk. 

The Deli
I’ve long been fascinated with Ha Tien’s deli.

Two refrigerated islands a rainbow of cold drinks, to-go containers of curry, laab, and tapioca desserts.

Then, there’s a hot food deli line with meat and noodle dishes, sticky rices, pad thai, fried foods, and roasted pork and duck. This is where you also order made-to-order banh mi.

If you show up early in the morning you can still order cold cut banh mi, but later in the day, you can ones  made with their roasted pork.

Ha Tien’s banh mi are very sizable. I usually bring at least one home. My fav cold cut version is the petite version from Trung Nam. Otherwise I prefer tofu banh mis. 

I ordered the large two-entree platter (about $10) with fried rice, orange chicken and beef with green peppers. I added an eggroll ($2.99) and spring rolls ($4.99).

First, the portion is very generous.

At least on this day, the fried rice was dryer than most fried rices – I still prefer this to oily fried rice. I found it chock full of scrambled egg and what I’m guessing is their own roasted pork.

I really liked the tender, flavorful beef and crisp green pepper dish. The orange chicken isn’t remarkable – but it’s not too sweet and tasty enough for a dish that’s been sitting on a hot table.

The eggroll is larger than average and plump with pork filling, served with a nice not-too-sweet fish saucy dipping sauce. I’m glad I only got one, though.

Three spring rolls with shrimp for $5 is a good value – they are perfectly serviceable spring rolls. The shrimp taste fresh and I liked the dipping sauce (tastes like hoisin). Correction – they also contain slices of roasted pork.

In summary, I do enjoy going out of my way to shop at Ha Tien. The selection is large and the prices seem reasonable enough.

Ha Tien is the only place I’ve ever found Red Hot Riplet potato chips outside of St. Louis, MO! They’re my favorite spicy chip of all time. I’ve never ordered them directly from Old Vienna, though, because the shipping is outrageous.

I wouldn’t go out of my way just to eat at the deli and bubble tea shop (unless you’re looking for the roasted pork and ducks), but if you are here shopping, you might as well grab a meal or, at least a banh mi.