Asian Market Shopper
Developer: Chronicle Books
Runs on: iPhone
It’s hard to believe that this has never happened before, but I began reviewing this week’s app, Asian Market Shopper, and belatedly realized it’s made by the same developer as our last app review, Rick Bayless’s Mexican Essentials. So turning this into a happy coincidence I’ll focus on its similarities and differences. I won’t get into too much detail when it mimics the other one; instead I will focus on the differences. So here’s what we’ve got.
With Chronicle’s Mexican Food app, Rick Bayless is your guide. With Asian Market Shopper, Andrea Nguyen, contributor to the Los Angeles Times and contributing editor to Saveur magazine, walks you through 25 Asian recipe staples and provides information on 100 of the most commonly used ingredients. There are also 25 video steps to help improve your cooking chops.
The first big difference from the Mexican food app is that this one puts a lot of emphasis on the ingredients, which has considerably more than the 32 covered in the Bayless app. In exchange, there are 15 fewer videos and 10 fewer recipes.
And where the Bayless app organizes the recipes by course, this app categorizes them by region: Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Asia (these regions cover the cuisine of China, Korea, Vietnam and India). The ingredients are organized in the same manner.
Recipe tiles can be swiped and flipped. Turning them over reveals a simple description and a link to view the entire recipe. Even when the recipe tile has been turned over, you can continue to swipe it. Once in the recipe, Nguyen provides a pronunciation of the dish in English and in its native language. You can also enlarge the text by one size. Recipes include links to all related videos—these are just steps within recipes. Within recipes are also links to the ingredient information.
Where Bayless provides audio descriptions that include all sorts of background information on the ingredients, Nguyen only offers information on the name. There is great information in the written form, however. Ingredients can be saved as a favorite (like recipes).
The navigation within the ingredients is a little awkward. You can click the “next ingredient” link to go forward and a back arrow to go back, but you can’t swipe; that is, unless you’re in full image mode and then you can swipe between ingredients.
The Asian Shopping Market has a decent shopping list, but it’s a bit clumsy there, too. The ingredients are organized by aisle category (very nice), but checking the items off doesn’t erase the ingredients (not so nice). For that, you must swipe horizontally on the entire recipe name to delete the ingredients within it. You can also click a minus sign in the top right and then it will provide the option to delete the entire ingredient list. This means you can’t delete just one or two items–it’s all or nothing.
This app is slightly older than the Mexican food app, and it shows. While Asian Market Shopper is a very nice app—and I can tell you that I’m looking forward to making many of the dishes and have already learned a ton about the many ingredients detailed—it could use just a bit more polish. It’s got great visuals, terrific information, but needs some of the intuitiveness that the Rick Bayless app has.
Saying that, I do think it’s worth a download, particularly for those who want to take a trip around Asia and are looking for more than fried rice and soy sauce.
Toque Rating: 3.75/5