20 cities in 20 days: Heart of Peoria is home to hub of international culture

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: Lee Lee International Supermarkets via Facebook) (Source: Lee Lee International Supermarkets via Facebook)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

You wouldn’t expect it, but in the heart of Peoria, you’ll find a hub of international culture.

For more than 25 years, Lee Lee International Supermarket has brought the world to the Valley. It’s a welcome sight for people who are far from home.

"Oh my gosh their eyes just open up and they're like, ‘How did I not know about this?! It feels like home,'" assistant manager Jennifer Truong said.

She said there's no shortage of reaction when people step into the store for the first time, and she doesn’t hesitate to show off all the market has to offer.

"I'll take all of our customers around give them a little tour and show them how to use some of the products," she said.

Located near 75th Avenue and Cactus Road, the Peoria shop is of three Lee Lee markets in the state. The other two are in Chandler and Tucson.

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Business has been booming since the first one opened in the early '90s. Truong says the first store got so busy that people were filling the parking lot and lines were forming outside. That’s when the owners knew it was time to expand.

As the international community continues to grow here in the Valley, so does the demand for diverse foods, some of which many of us have never even heard of. Case in point? Durian. Truong says you need to come smell this fruit for yourself.

"Half of our customers think that durian smells super floral and beautiful and the other half think it smells like stinky feet," she said.

They also have fruits like longan and jackfruit, which can weigh anywhere from 10 to 40 pounds.

Lee Lee's widely diverse produce department is matched by the expansive meat and seafood counter, stocked with things like live crab, lobster, ox tail and pork lung.

If you don’t see what you’re looking for, let them know, and they’ll be happy to track it down for you, whether it’s to bring you a taste of home or to help you eat healthier.

"People are using foods to heal their bodies from the inside out and that's the best way to do it," Truong said.


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