Back in China, we mostly use light soy saucewhich has a lighter color than regular soy sauce and tastes saltier. Sometimes, I need to go to a few markets before getting fresh rice noodles and I go early before they sell out. We use Amazon most of the time, but you can head to our ingredients pages under the How-To section for links to most of our go-to pantry items. Cooking Wine Lots of Chinese recipes uses alcohol to enhance flavor.
You can buy dark soy sauce here. It creates very authentically tasting Chinese food. Hi DB, I know the place you are talking about on Mott street!
Navigating a Chinese Grocery Store
You can find star anise pod in most grocery stores or on Amazon. They have a very concentrated flavor and most of the time cannot be replaced by fresh shiitake mushrooms. Whole star anise pods are widely used in braised dishes, such as braised spareribsbeef stewand braised duck. No problem for me but it is hard for others.