I visited a Korean grocery store the other day, and had a wonderful time perusing the goods, taking pictures, and picking out some goodies to try. While some of the products were the same ones I’d find at my usual grocery store, the majority of them were not, and I loved this little journey away from my day-to-day routine. I firmly believe it’s good to shake things up and see and do something new – even if it just involves a new shopping experience.
This particular Korean market is one-stop shopping at its best: a grocery store, a deli, a bakery, a video store, a cosmetics counter, a pharmacy, and an assorted dry goods area are all housed under one roof. It’s undoubtedly convenient for the Korean customers, and was a treat for me.
First stop? Produce
There is some great produce to be had at Zion Market, and most of it is delightfully inexpensive. In addition to selling fruits and veggies singly, they also sell some things by the box: grapes, apples, persimmons, melons, etc. Some of my produce purchases included blueberries, blackberries, mandarins, plums, grapefruits, twist chilies, a pear, chestnuts, and lily root. I find it funny that I had to go to a Korean market to see my first chestnut - as in “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…”.
I bought the lily root to try stamping with. Back home I sliced it, pressed it onto a black ink pad, and made some quick prints to share with you, dear readers. This is proof that cool art supplies are virtually everywhere – you just have to keep your eyes open! Package of lily root: $1.18. New tool in my art arsenal? Priceless!
Top to bottom: A pear I tucked in among some pomegranates, sesame leaves & chives, and the lovely lily root. Very top: hachiyas (Japanese persimmons)
Cookies, crackers – these items definitely translate into the Korean food experience. They had some “standard U.S.” brands, and many imported brands. I selected a few snack items to try, and enjoyed looking at the packages of some things I decided to pass on. For example, I delighted in seeing the Shrimp-Flavored Chips but had no desire to eat them. The Sesame Peanut Crackers did make it into my cart though. I also bought some almond cookies. Yum!
Top to bottom: Shrimp-Flavored Chips, and some assorted purchases (including the snack-tastic Sesame Peanut Crackers, Almond Crush Pocky)
I love the Zion Market seafood department. Sure, they have meat and poultry too, but the fish really got my attention. Some of the fresh fish was packaged, and some was out in open tubs filled with ice. Some of the seafood was still alive, too – swimming in water-filled tanks. It was fishy and lobster death row, to be sure, but it’s a great way to ensure the main ingredient of your meal is fresh!
I also saw lots of dried seafood in neighboring aisles, including shiny dried anchovies. Another interesting find included fish dogs (like a corn dog but with fish inside) and fried peppers on a stick. Different strokes for different folks? Apparently the appeal of fried food on a stick crosses cultural boundaries!
Top to bottom: Fish in open tubs, bags of dried anchovies, Fish Dogs & Peppers on a Stick
The Deli & Bakery are FAB
The deli had quite an assortment of pre-made food to choose from, and there wasn’t a cold cut to be found. Instead I saw dishes like crab cakes and seaweed salad. I think my favorite packaged items in the deli were trays of ingredients to make a stew or another fresh dish. For example, the tray in the photo below contained the makings for a stew: veggies, shrimp, meat – almost everything you’d need to make a fresh, yummy meal with the quick convenience associated with life here in the states. Sure, you still have to cook it, but a customer wouldn’t have to dash around the store assembling multiple ingredients.
The Paris Baguette bakery nearly made this carb lover swoon – there were so many tasty things to choose from! In the end, I chose some of their bread, a sweet pumpkin roll for a friend, and a piece of almond French toast for me. Dee-lish!
Top to bottom: The stew tray I saw in the deli section, and the bread purchased from the bakery (with the almond cookies mentioned above in the Snack Attack section)
Wow, that’s a lot of seaweed!
As I wrapped up my exploration of Zion Market, it was clear which pre-packaged items are very important in Korean cuisine. For example, certain types of items filled an entire half of an aisle (one side). Things like rice, noodles, soy sauce, pickled radish, seaweed, spices, and kimchi occupied a lot of real estate. Bread? Not so much!
Top to bottom: Rice, lots of soy sauce, and jars of Kimchi
If you’ve got an unexplored Korean market in your area I encourage you to pay a visit. Countless wonders, and some really good food, await you!
*Zion Market is located at 4800 Irvine Boulevard in Irvine, California.Tweet