What is ‘Specialty Foods’?

Text/photo: Stephanie Yuen

They don’t mind going all the way to Richmond or Burnaby to shop for specialty foods.  “They” refers to foodies who pay attention to what they put in their food and home chefs who are serious about what they cook with. In case you are not too sure what ‘specialty foods’ is, follow them to Alderbridge Way in Richmond or Marine Way in South Burnaby, to where Galloway Specialty Foods – the well-established food store who is the maestro of ‘specialty foods’  – are located.







Some say ‘Specialty Foods’ can be any food items that you, your culture and culinary background are not familiar with, some say they simply are not your everyday ingredients, others referring them to ingredients with a special purpose.  Himalaya peppers are common to Nepalese but unheard of in North America, Edamame (green soy beans) are staples for Chinese and Japanese but not in Europe; Asian and aboriginal herbs with medicinal properties; even quinoa, pine nuts, wild rice and wood ears are good examples of ‘specialty foods’. What about a frozen package of real coconut meat?

At Galloway’s Burnaby store, over 9000 grocery, organic, home and personal care products are offered. Hence the best place to come face to face to some of the more common and in-demand items. Come take a look and find out for yourselves what they may be.  There are dried goods such as herbs, spices, beans, fruits and flours; canned food, juice and rose water; familiar grocery items such as curry powder, nuts and grains, gourmet items such as goji berries and calimyrna figs; and sweets such as candies and chocolates. Some are must-haves for any kitchen; some alien-like specialty items and perhaps unheard of names, such as Harissa from Morocco, Piquillo peppers from Northen Spain, Carnaroli rice from the Andes.  Many shoppers agree and enjoy the fact that they often learn new things when they visit Galloway’s. Your first visit will definitely be an eye opener and a good inspiration for a new chapter in culinary creations. Like me, you’ll likely pick up a package each of Ccocolate gojiberry and chocolate ginger – they are meant to accompany TV-watching, book-reading and sharing with your chocolate-loving friends! 


Galloway’s first opened in downtown Vancouver in 1936 when Vancouver was still a town rather than a city.  Their passion and vision on food led them to their iconic achievement in the specialty food category decades later. Besides herbs, ‘s spices, grains and flours, Galoway’s was first known to be the place to go for ethnic foods, gourmet ingredient and baking needs.  Today, in both the Richmond and the Burnaby locations, they take care not just foodies, home cooks and career chefs, with items like black cocoa to red quinoa (keen-wa), gluten-free and sugar-free goods, fresh herbs from S.E. Asia, fine spices from the sunny West Indies to exotic Africa, rich oils from Portugal to Australia, they also look after the needs of folks with special dietary needs and health concerns.  

According to owner Annie Kara, “We shop the world for you, selecting products of the highest quality from around the world and bringing them right to you! We have knowledgeable staff, some whom are culinary professionals, who are always happy to provide you with recipes and culinary advice. Our goal at Galloway’s is to help expand your culinary horizons!” Galloway’s did such a wonderful job, they outgrew the small store on Seymour Street and moved to Richmond. The south Burnaby location is the second retail store with a large warehouse on Marine Way in south Burnaby in a newly erected industrial complex opened two years ago.