EnJoy Market opened in the basement of 143 N. 11th Street, the former home of Asia Supermarket. New owner Hung Vuong Food Markets's expansion into Philadelphia's Chinatown includes the the market and a toy store on the ground floor. (Heather Chin/Thetelegraphfield)

There’s a recently opened, Instagram-worthy Asian grocery store hidden in the basement of an anime and gashapon toy shop in the heart of Chinatown — and it mixes nostalgia with the latest in pop culture fun.

Located at 143 N. 11th Street, You & Me (the ground floor toy store) and EnJoy Market (the basement grocery/kitchen/beauty goods store) opened in mid-March and revitalizes the old Asia Supermarket space, which closed in 2019, shortly before the pandemic.

There’s also a proven team at the helm, as this is Hung Vuong Food Market’s first store in Center City’s Chinatown, adding to their regional portfolio across South Philly, New Jersey, and Delaware.

You & Me toy store and EnJoy Market opened at 143 N. 11th Street, the former home of Asia Supermarket. (Heather Chin/Thetelegraphfield)

This new venture doesn’t include fresh produce, but does offer a bewildering array of sweet and savory snacks, frozen food, drinks, adorable lunch and kitchen supplies, beauty products, and more. Also on site? Gashapon claw machines, stuffed animals, and jewelry.

The range of items, plus the K-pop and C-pop music piped in on speakers, is tailor-made to appeal to Asian American millennials nostalgic for childhood and Gen Z customers eager for access to the latest flavors both in the U.S. and Asia. 

“I feel like a kid again, but now I can actually buy these things,” said Linda L., a native Philadelphian and millennial who now lives in Delco. “This is so clean. It feels like I’m in another country, like I’m in a Sanrio store, but with food, bags, and stuff like that. And it’s around the corner, close by. I have to explore when I come back.”

You & Me toy store and EnJoy Market opened at 143 N. 11th Street, the former home of Asia Supermarket. (Heather Chin/Thetelegraphfield)

Growing up in Philly’s Cambodian community, Linda loved Yan Yan snacks — a biscuit that you dip in chocolate or strawberry — and so walked away from her first EnJoy shopping trip with those and Hello Kitty items for her friend’s daughter.

“It makes me so happy,” she gushed. “I feel like I’m in high school again.”

A restaurant is planned for a portion of EnJoy Market's cavernous basement space below You & Me toy store at 143 N. 11th Street, the former home of Asia Supermarket. (Heather Chin/Thetelegraphfield)

There will also be a small cafeteria-style restaurant in a corner of the basement that currently has cafeteria tables and a counter space that is slowly being constructed.

A timeline and menu for the eatery has not been determined yet, says store manager Ivy Zhu, but it will be as soon as possible.

You & Me toy store and EnJoy Market opened at 143 N. 11th Street, the former home of Asia Supermarket. (Heather Chin/Thetelegraphfield)

With no fresh produce, the store is not competition for the main Asian supermarkets along North 10th and in South Philly and Northeast Philly, but it has a broader selection of non-perishable items and does offer the same goods at roughly the same prices as Japanese lifestyle shop Ebisu, which sits around the corner on Arch Street in a smaller, split-level space behind the Mochinut storefront.

You & Me and EnJoy’s presence is another sign of vibrancy and economic strength in a Philadelphia Chinatown community that continues to get back on its feet after the successive challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown, anti-Asian hate, and the proposed 76ers sports arena.

You & Me toy store and EnJoy Market opened at 143 N. 11th Street, the former home of Asia Supermarket. (Heather Chin/Thetelegraphfield)

“The local Chinatown businesses are struggling since COVID. One business told me that since COVID, they close early every day because it doesn’t feel safe to stay open,” said Haoyi Shang, commercial corridor manager with the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation.

“There’s a lot of new businesses, but lots are franchised,” Shang said. “They have their first stores in NYC and then choose Philadelphia or New Jersey to expand their market.”

The new You & Me and EnJoy market space is a rare large space that Chinatown doesn’t have a lot of, she notes.

Gashapon claw machines inside You & Me at 143 N. 11th Street in Chinatown. (Heather Chin/Thetelegraphfield)

Between new businesses and the upcoming Chinatown Stitch I-95 cap park, residents and visitors alike are hopeful that the neighborhood will stay vibrant and thrive.

“People do see potential and a strong customer base here. Compared to other commercial corridors, there are not a lot of vacancies,” said Shang. “It has a small, but regularly connected business community and tight network.”

Heather Chin is Thetelegraphfield's deputy editor. She previously was a digital producer at the Inquirer and an editor at outlets both print and digital — from national breaking news service Flipboard to hyperlocal...