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While the unique Esentai Gourmet's raison d'etre is not simply to copy western supermarkets, its commitment to stocking only the very best in global brands results in it emulating its highest quality contemporaries west of the erstwhile iron curtain. And twenty plus years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, this presence of this superior retailer in Almaty proves that standards of living here are a match for those almost anywhere in the countries where most of its products are sourced from.
A brief walk around Esentai Gourmet, located on the ground floor of the new high quality Esentai Mall - one of many good Shopping Centers locally - in the south of the city, already says a lot about what this place offers. The tastefully designed and arranged supermarket has several sections each dedicated to stocking various food groups and selling the best in locally and internationally sourced products.
The vegetable section is well-stocked daily with fresh fruit and vegetables of the highest quality, some grown in the area with other things flown in regularly from Europe. There are also some items not available anywhere else in town, and for those hailing from other lands, there are likely to be some of the things you miss about back home. Ex-pats, especially seasoned travellers, are able to adapt well to a new environment but may still appreciate a glass of wine or bite of chocolate that reminds them of where they come from. Esentai has as wide a range of such temptations as you could imagine, right from Italian rice to English crisps (Tyrrell's - for those Brits disappointed by local alternatives).
Among the other 5,000 kind of goods, and 2,000 items available only here, are for example Belgian chocolates, balsamic vinegar from Modena in Italy, English cheese, and ham from Parma. These are not imitations, the Esentai team have spared no expense or effort in bringing the finest foods over, and while en route to your dinner table they stock them hygienically and neatly in the store.
Why not take advantage of the extras? A gift from Esentai would be fit for any birthday, wedding or leaving party, if that is anybody is thinking of moving away from Almaty. There are options available for corporate gifts with the staff fully receptive to individual preferences. Gift wrapping is taken care of by people actually trained in the art, so for that upcoming anniversary or corporate party, order from the range of tempting options including food gift sets, teas and coffees, baskets with meat and cheese, gourmet jams or exclusive hand-made sweets. There are even flowers and plants. With so many choices get in touch with the store and discuss your requirements, in English if necessary, staff are competent multi-lingual communicators and fully courteous at all times.
As the world moves towards a more conscientious way of shopping, top retailers are responding by making eco-friendly items available. Esentai has a whole range of organic, non-GMO, vegetarian and gluten-free options, most of which can be difficult to find in this country. For baby, there are a selection of natural products and even toys popular in Europe but yet to take root in Kazakhstan. Quality control is also strict and the on-site laboratory applies testing standards permitting only the safest and freshest edibles to be stocked and sold. This especially applies to items prepared and sold in the Esentai Delicatessen, one of the most unique restaurants in Almaty.
For those of you who know the famous British stores Harrods, and Fortnum and Mason, Esentai Gourmet is very much in the same category, only with the added feature of selling Central Asian delicacies into the bargain. So although there is a definite focus on bringing the best of the best from abroad, the culinary traditions of Kazakhstan and its neighbouring countries are fully respected, with a range of Kazakh and Russian (among others) food on sale. There are certainly no other supermarkets offering quite the depth of quality. It's an experience in itself to walk round this store, and for those visitors with any lingering doubts that Almaty is a world class city, this supermarket is quite the last piece of evidence to the contrary.