Get to Know Umamicart, a Must-Shop Online Grocery Store for Asian Ingredients
There's a new online grocery store in town, and they're aiming to be a one-stop shop for all your Asian cooking needs: Umamicart, which launched in March, is a direct-to-consumer Asian grocer that was co-founded by Andrea Xu, an Asian American woman with Chinese parents who grew up in Spain. She came to the United States for college, where she attended New York University, and later got a job in finance. "That's what my parents wanted me to do; they sacrificed a lot so that I could get this really nice, high-paying job but it wasn't really what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing," Xu says. "I wanted to build something, so I went to business school (MIT Sloan) and then I started working on Umamicart."
On the Umamicart website, you can browse through a curated selection of more than 500 different products spanning a variety of categories including fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, noodles, snacks, drinks, and pantry goods. There are even meal kits that bundle together all the ingredients you need to make a specific dish, including braised pork belly, Taiwanese sausage fried rice, and pork and shrimp dumplings.
As for the name of the company, Xu notes that she wanted something that was instantly recognizable and that made it clear that this business is about groceries. "I cook with Asian ingredients and products often, and when I shop in mainstream grocers it can be really hard to find the ingredients that give dishes that umami flavor," she says. "We're going to carry all of these ingredients that bring that umami to your cart." Umamicart carries a mix of established and emerging brands, with an emphasis on Asian American-led businesses, immigrant-led businesses, and mom-and-pop suppliers and producers behind favorite heritage brands.
Xu saw a gap in the market for third culture Asian Americans like herself. "I'm Chinese Spanish and I've spent over 10 years––most of my adult life––in America and I feel very much Asian American or third culture," she says. In the United States, Xu met Asian Americans like herself and found that they had shared experiences like craving specific dishes or flavors they grew up with but not knowing exactly how to make them. Umamicart helps to solve this problem with curated meal kits and detailed product descriptions with notes on flavor and how to cook with them.
Some of the products Xu is particularly excited about include their sashimi, fresh produce, and oatmeal by Crave Natural. "We source our sashimi from a Japanese fish vendor that also supplies some of the popular sushi restaurants in New York City," she says. "It's so high quality, and since starting Umamicart I eat it a lot more because it's been so much easier to access and more affordable."
Fresh produce, which is delivered daily from an Asian supplier specializing in vegetables and tropical fruit, was something Xu knew Umamicart needed to offer from the beginning; this was based on her own personal experience and the experiences of potential customers who have trouble finding the fresh fruits and vegetables they needed to make Asian dishes at mainstream grocery stores.
"In terms of brands, I love Crave Natural," Xu says. "It's also a female founded company, and they're making oatmeals with Asian flavors like black sesame and taro." Crave Natural oatmeals feature a base of good-for-you ingredients like organic gluten-free oats, almonds, hemp seeds, and flax seeds.
Umamicart offers next day delivery to New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Delaware. They offer same day delivery in New York City for orders placed before noon.