One of the unspoken myths perpetuated by glossy food magazines (and even glossier chef-driven cookbooks) is that you need to spend a lot of money on your kitchen tools. In a perfect world, we all could shell out $150 for a Shun knife or $200 for a Le Creuset, but for amateur cooks and kitchen hobbyists, that kind of investment isn't always feasible.
The good news: A tight budget shouldn’t keep you from getting the equipment you need to toss together a proper stir-fry or make that bundt cake recipe you’ve been eyeing. Here in L.A., there are several stores offering professional-level kitchen supplies at warehouse prices. The bargain suppliers might not have the polished, upscale veneer of places like Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma, but their prices are much, much lower.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Ta Fong Restaurant Supply
Just east of Chinatown, a block away from Lax-C, there's a bulk grocery market commonly referred to as "Thai Costco." Ta Fong is a massive warehouse filled with crowded shelves that resemble the ones from the end scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark. This is no-frills retail — items are stacked tightly in cubbies or piled in large bins, and you’ll have to dig though on your own — but you can find deals on all types on Asian cookware, like a steel wok for $9 or a heavy-duty Chinese boning knife for $8. 121 W. Elmyra St., Chinatown; (323) 223-1488, tafongusa.com.
Located on the basement level of the Koreatown Galleria, Kitchen Plus is a great resource for items you’d often find in a Korean kitchen. Think steamer baskets, clay pots and metal grates for grilling. That said, you also can find pretty much any item that Alton Brown might require, often at half-price compared with traditional cookware shops. Our advice: Pick up one of the Japanese-import knives for less than $20, plus a sharpener, and you’ll have a reliable go-to knife that will last you for years. 3250 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown; (323) 732-1160.
Need a giant rice cooker? How about a 10-gallon stockpot? ChefsMart in the South Bay is a warehouse supplier for both professional restaurants and those who are looking to take their array of kitchen equipment to the next tier. Prices are a bit higher than the previous two locations, but in general you will spend less than you would at most brick-and-mortar outlets and probably about the same as the cheaper online vendors — with the added bonus of great customer service. 1355 W. 190th St., Gardena; (310) 630-1688.