Like most of my culinary adventures in Sofia, they come about randomly. I was at Cru last week and noticed that one of the items on the menu contained dashi, which is an ingredient that I have been searching for for quite some time. The people at Cru were kind enough to tell me that dashi is available in Bulgaria, but they didn’t know the name of the shop or the exact location, so they told me it was on Iskar St. near Halite, which was vague, but I tucked it into my mental to find list.
Then at the French Cooking Demo, I met Yuko one of the Japanese ladies in Sofia. I figured she would have heard of this place for sure, I was right. She drew me a map indicating that the street was Ekzarh Youseff, near the place where people fill up bottles with mineral water and Costa Coffee, but she didn’t know the exact address or the name of the place, but a map is better than a general vicinity, so I was off.
It was tricky to find parking because of Halite and the fact that I was foggy on the cross street. I began walking down Ekzarh Youseff, I managed to find both of my markers: the place where Sofians fill up bottles with mineral water and the Costa Coffee across the street, but I didn’t find anything on Ekzarh Youseff. I decided to back track and ask people if they had heard of such a shop, but I got no information. Dedicated as I was, I walked around the surrounding streets thinking I was reading the map wrong, when I came to the restaurant L’Etranger. I went in. My rational was this, maybe someone inside would have heard of this shop. Inside I found the IWC President Stephanie having lunch with a friends. Her friend had heard of the place and told me to go back onto Ekzarh Youseff. It was a very small shop that sold fish.
In the end, I managed to find this place. I walked passed it at least 5 times. It took about an hour of pounding the pavement, but I succeeded. The shop is really small, but I found some things on their shelves that I hadn’t been able to find before, palm sugar (for pad Thai), bonito flakes (for dashi) and tons of frozen fish. The walls are adorned with diagrams about various fish species. I will be returning to this shop soon as I now have new items I am searching for.