The Waeguk-Saram’s Guide to Korean Products

 

The Asian Market Chronicles Presents:

A Waeguk-Saram’s Guide to Korean Products at your local Korean Market

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Minute Curry

You want great food quick? Impossible, there is no such thing as this you indolent person (that means lazy for those too lazy to pick up a dictionary). But Minute Curry is a decent option on a late work night. Experience two servings of Korean Culture for under $2.00. Add some steamed rice, maybe an egg or some tater tots , and you have some proper bachelor/bachelorette chow. Mmm simple single life…

 Hongcho

Pomegranate Vinegar

Ah yes, Pomegranate Vinegar, the staple beverage served at any sampling station in a Korean Market. The nice lady selling the vinegar approached me claiming, “it will make you more handsome, it is healthy, and it tastes good”.

Will it make me more handsome? Probably not, I have seen no studies quantifying the effects of drinking vinegar to increasing handsomeness.  Besides that, you can’t mess with success. hehe

Is it healthy? Sure, multiple reports have shown the health benefits of vinegar. It has anti-ahterosclerotic properties which could lower blood pressure, its rich in flavonoids to boost memory and mood

Does it taste good? No.  Unless, of course you are a flavor sensory masochist, to which I say “drink up”.

The lesson here, not everything that is good for you tastes good. Suck it up, take a drink, and be healthy.

 Hyuna

The KPop CD

Listen to music “performed” by pretty young people with styled hair, BB Cream porcelain skin, and either toned abs or shaved legs, all for a stunning deal of $24.00 for six songs (two of which were hits, and four of which are “meh”, so you’re effectively  paying $12.00 per song).

If you buy a KPop CD, you will be able to go to sleep knowing you supported an artist, a card with an invitation to join a fanclub, get an ornate CD case, a book with lyrics, and most likely get a poster of a pretty young person with styled hair. But when those two songs you like come on, pump up the volume  and scream those few English lyrics.

Plum Juice

Plum Juice

I had my doubts before purchasing this product. The dark swampy green color, the bottle shaped like a household drain cleaner, and be it plum juice, it would most likely be drain cleaner for my digestive system. Nevertheless, a few elderly Korean folk advised me to try a bottle and placed one in my basket, so as a respectful gentleman, I obliged and bought a bottle. Much to my surprise, the Plum Juice was actually pretty good.  A light sweetness, undertones of grape flavor with none of the tartness, a rich fragrance, an overall delightful experience.

The lesson here,  take a swig of some Plum Juice, don’t judge a book by its cover, and listen to Korean elderly folk.

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Oh wait don’t forget…

Gangnam Style Toothbrush

The Gangnam Style Singing Toothbrush

Tired of brushing your teeth to the sound of birds chirping or even more boring, blissful silence.  Tired of being teased in class for having a regular toothbrush and not one with a Korean animated character like all the popular kids?  Tired of the persistent pain of lugging your enormous MP3 player every time you go to the bathroom? Behold, the revolutionary Gangnam Style Toothbrush!  The party only ends when the batteries die! No more

In all seriousness, thank you  PSY for giving all adults the opportunity to ride the imaginary horse they forgot about in Preschool, and those without rhythm a  new move in their repertoire after “YMCA” and “The Macarena.

Asian Market Chronicles (2)

The Scandalous Secret of Paris Baguette

Paris Baguette

The Scandalous Secret of Paris Baguette

Last Saturday afternoon, I took a visit to the Carrot Market *coughs* I mean, Zion Market. (Sorry, I get confused by the orange and green colors.) I noticed a rather long line of people in front of Paris Baguette, inside people snapping their metal tongs to procure large amounts of croquettes, croissants, gallettes, pain au chocolates and other very fancy sounding non-English bakery items. I was almost reminded of the H-Mart of Irvine with its “Tous Le Jours” store. (Can someone say Francophilia?)

I picked up a delicious Cake Donut Twist (also known as lunch for lazy people) and waited in line. Typically, I would make conversation with the people in line like a normal person, but after buying my new Samsung Galaxy tablet, I can now access the internet and ignore the life around me. Nevertheless, I decided to do a little research on Paris Baguette in my ten minutes of waiting.

After a quick Google search, I found out something rather scandalous. Did you know that there is no Paris Baguette in Paris, France?

The berets, horizontal striped shirts, fancy cursive writing, black-and-white pictures of the Eiffel Tower are all a ruse. “Le Patbingsoo” is not French for “shaved ice cream”. It is not French custom to put curry in a croquette. I guess I also had my suspicions when I noticed all of the staff working were Korean and didn’t respond positively to my authentic French accent.

Taken aback, shocked, dazed and other phrases Microsoft Word says are synonyms with “stunned”, I took a seat at the very modern and trendy chairs and tables and decided to do some more research on the company. It’s time someone spoke the truth about Paris Baguette, and here is what 10 minutes of research has taught me:

  • There are about 2,900 Paris Baguette stores in Korea, 50 stores in China, and more than 20 stores in the United States.
  • Paris Baguette is a popular place for Korean drama heroes and damsels to share mushy moments with each other with come-hither looks, comedic synchronized laughs and to express “saranghae” in whispers. (Okay, this one isn’t fact. This one is my observation).
  • They sell gift cards, so smack a bow on a card and make that special someone mildly happy.
  • Paris Baguette is part of the SPC Group, developing franchises through affiliates such as Paris Croissant, Paris Baguette, Dunkin Donuts Korea, and even Baskin Robbins Korea.
  • And holy cow, this Cake Donut is awesome! The crispy fried exterior, the sweet powdered sugar, the soft cake donut inside. Here’s hoping that Korean damsel doesn’t get too angry that I ate her share of the donut. Whatever, I’ll wait on an unusually rainy day to rush towards her with a half of a donut, asking for forgiveness. Pfft, Korean damsels…

I forgive you, Paris Baguette. You’re alright with me…

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The Gangnam Style Singing Toothbrush

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The Gangnam Style Singing Toothbrush

Tired of brushing your teeth to the sound of birds chirping or even more boring, blissful silence…blah!  Tired of being teased in class for having a regular toothbrush and not one with a Korean animated character like all the popular kids? Tired of dragging your heavy MP3 player to the bathroom risking acute backpain just to listen to your favorite song in the bathroom? Ugh, I know I am…

Gangnam Style Toothbrush

Behold, the revolutionary Gangnam Style Toothbrush!  We’ve all heard Gangnam Style on the radio or internet, but the experience is totally different with the state-of-the-art speakers on the toothbrush and the acoustics of a bathroom. Also, the party only ends when the batteries die.

Have a foamy mouthed horse galloping party in the convenience of your bathroom with:

  • Parents
  • Exes
  • Colleagues
  • Pets
  • Girlfriends
  • Boyfriends
  • Preppies
  • Jocks
  • Nerds
  • Goths
  • And Etc?!?

**WARNING: KKonnect does not promote the “Gangnam Style Singing Toothbrush” or any “Foamy mouthed horse galloping bathroom parties”, please use caution when engaging in such activities**

-Fateh K.

Asian Market Chronicles (2)

 

Zion Market Grows Up: A New Chapter in the Asian Market Chronicles Series

Amazing, the Korean Shopping Scene in San Diego has evolved quite a bit since the Asian Market Chronicles Series started. We got a new Korean Market in H-Mart, and Zion Market has now expanded to one of the largest Korean Markets in America. More amazingly, this series is still alive and kicking!

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Zion Market in San Diego moved to its new location in Clairemont Mesa, and I had the opportunity to visit the grocery store on its opening day. Below are some of my capricious observations:

The Not-so-good:

No Grand Opening? • Although they have had their Grand opening ceremony on the 29th of June, there wasn’t any clear advertisement about the store expanding to a new location, no solid date for when the new store would open, and no immediate weekend celebration (not even a single balloon?!) It left lots of people uninformed for a long time.

No Zion Bakery? • Yes, Zion Market now has a Paris Baguette. However, H-Mart already has one. Sure, Paris Baguette is sexier with its steel grey and blue sign, beret-wearing employees, and stylish banners with nonsense writing, but Zion Bakery was humble and unassuming. And it had some items which were either better than or not even served by Paris Baguette, such as almond cookies, Korean scones, carrot cake, etc.

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The Good:

More Parking Spaces! • No more shaking fists, cold stares, getting a free lesson on Korean street obscenities, and the frustration of making the same loop over and over again.

More Aisle Space! • Zion Market in San Diego could perhaps be the largest Korean Grocery Store in America! No more lady folks poking my lower back and sides to make me move…

A Separate Seafood Section! • The most jarring experience of going to the old Zion Market was enduring the fishy odor from the seafood aisle across from the Korean Snack Section. But not anymore, the fish section is far away from all the regular food. Yay!

More Check-out Counters! o No more having to stand awkwardly for 10 minutes while doing slight rhythmic knee bends to the songs playing on the speakers and pretending to check my cellphone. Double yay!

Empty department stores! o What will occupy the remaining area of the store? A boba shop? Noraebang? A clothing store? It appears we will find out as the days pass.

Orange & Green Colored Shopping Carts! • How charming is it to think you are pushing a carrot cart around the store.

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Ultimately, I would say this was a neat change for the good and a nice rejuvenation to the tired, chaotic and cramped Korean grocery scene. Here’s to hoping more KMART and SEARS stores turn into Korean Markets.

About the Author: Fateh is an engineer by day, dreamer by night and cultural sojourner on weekends. He will be providing his unique commentary on all things Korean.

 

Zion Market Grows Up: The Asian Market Saga Continues

Zion Market Grows Up: The Asian Market Saga Continues

Zion Market

Amazing, the Korean Shopping Scene in San Diego has evolved  quite a bit since the Asian Market Chronicles Series started.  We got a new Korean Market in H-Mart, and Zion Market has now expanded to one of the largest Korean Markets in America.  More amazingly, this series is still alive and kicking!

Zion Market in San Diego moved to its new location in Clairemont Mesa, and I had the opportunity to visit the grocery store this weekend. Overall I believe it was a change for the good.  Below are some of my thoughts:

The Good:

Bigger Shopping Area:

Zion Market in San Diego could perhaps be the largest Korean Grocery Store in America!

More Parking Spaces!

    •  No more shaking fists, cold stares, getting a free lesson on Korean street obscenities, and the frustration of making the same loop over and over again.

More Aisle Space!

  •  No more lady folks poking my lower back and sides to make me move… Now to figure out what it means when this happens and I hear “saranghae” whispered at me .

A Separate Seafood Section!

  • The most jarring experiences of going to the old Zion Market was enduring the fishy odor from the seafood aisle across from the Korean Snack Section (I have to pinch my nose when I walk near Pepero Sticks now). Then the process of adding a little bit of cologne after wards to make an unholy mélange of smells….ugh. Not anymore, the fish section is far away from all the regular food. Double Yay!

More Check-out Counters!

      • No more having to stand awkwardly for 10 minutes while doing slight rhythmic knee bends to the songs playing on the speakers and pretending to check my cellphone. Yay!

Empty department stores!

      • What will occupy the remaining area of the store? A boba tea shop? A Norebang Lounge? A clothing store? Another Paris Baguette?  It appears we might see a food court by July 4th

Orange & Green  Colored Shopping Carts!

  • So charming to think you are pushing a carrot cart around the store.

The Not-so-good:

No Grand Opening?

  • Zion Market is a San Diego store, it is the heart of the franchise, and there was absolutely no advertisement about the store expanding , no one had a solid date for when the new store would open, and there was no weekend celebration (not even a single  balloon) to commemorate such a big moment in the company’s history. Very unusual. Rumor has it there will be a Grand Opening in the end of June.

No Zion Bakery?

  • Yes, there will be a Paris Baguette arriving soon… However, H-Mart already has one. I’ve been to both establishments, and Zion Bakery had some items which were either better than or not even served by Paris Baguette (Almond Cookies, Korean Scones, Vegetable and Egg Koroke, Carrot Cake, etc).

Here’s hoping more KMART and  SEARS turn into Korean Markets 🙂

-Fateh K.

 

Holy Hotteok! It’s Honey Hotcakes at H-Mart!!!

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Holy Hotteok! It’s Honey Hotcakes at H-Mart!!!

Let’s start this post off with something controversial, I am not keen on Korean Sweets. Colorful Jellys or glutinous rice cakes do not seem appetizing for a person raised on glazed doughnuts, a plethora of pies, and 31 flavors of Ice-Cream.  Perhaps I do not have a “sophisticated palette”, but the phrase glutinous gives me gastro-emisis .

Today I went to a grocery store called H-Mart and after a making a food sample circuit around the store (asking questions like “so you call these dumplings? Never heard of it…nom nom) I took a stroll to the hot foods section and saw a peculiar piece of paper taped on the wall, with a drawn on message “Honey Pancakes 2 for $3.  Honey Pancakes aka  Honey Hotcakes aka “Hotteok” is a Korean Street Food typically filled with honey, chopped nuts, brown sugar and cinnamon, cooked on a griddle.

I demanded a double-stack from the employee behind the register and waited.  Looking to the other side of the store I saw Paris Baguette and was a bit concerned that I was going to get some wannabe European-Style dessert. The employee came back and I was presented not with two pieces of fancy pants crepes, but with two pieces of thick glorious American-Style flapjacks.  After a few blinks of astonishment and an exhale of surprise, I sauntered to the cafeteria and sat down to admire the Honey Pancakes.

The warmth radiating from the flapjacks titillated my senses, the fragrance of sweet batter so comforting, I cut a triangular piece and saw a thin layer of honey, and crushed nuts nestled between two  buttery stacks of soft pancakes.  A quick bite and I began to whimper at how delicious and enjoyable the Honey Pancakes were.  I then called them “Ohm” Pancakes, as in “Oh My Gosh These Pancakes are Flippin’ Awesome!”. Afterwards, I aptly rushed to compliment the chef in his efforts.

Apparently, Honey Pancakes are the first in what will be a series of “Korean Street Food” that will be served at the H-Mart in Mira Mesa. This KKonnect Writer is excited to see what is coming next.   Next in line will be a Hazelnut Chocolate Hotteok, so give up on losing weight for the next few months.

-Fateh K.

(above image from supkorea.blogspot.com)

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The Power of the KKonnect Effect

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The Power of the Press: Enter the KKonnect Effect [The Asian Market Chronicles

I had the opportunity of visiting H-Mart today, bought some soy milk, did a little grooving to Korean Music in between the isles, mooched on some samples of Curry, Calpico Drink, Chilean Sea Bass, and Dumplings; a lazy-man’s dinner.

Can you point out what is unusual about the above sentence?

If you recall, earlier this year I gave my priceless (literally free) opinions on the five reasons “Why I Love and Despise H-Mart” as part of the surprisingly surviving “Asian Market Chronicles” series in the Korea Daily Magazine.

In it I mention how I deplored the use of  Ryan Seacrest’s Top 40 Pop Music to be used on the public in Grocery Stores, let alone in a Korean Supermarket. How songs about glamorizing getting money, drugs, sex, and more money or how Bruno Mars is “Locked out of Heaven” were not the most appropriate music for families to purchase food to.  In addition to pointing out that the other H-Mart locations played Korean Music for a Korean-owned Grocery Store.

Guess What?

H-Mart-Mira Mesa has started to play Korean Music in their stores.

Are these series of events random? Perhaps… However because this is my article I’ll make my own claim. This is an example of the power of the KKonnect Effect!

So shoppers, you will now be immersed in Korean Culture through Food, Products and Music at H-Mart-Mira Mesa. Finally, the quasi-cultural experience is now complete!

You’re welcome 🙂

Now we wait until the Korean Pop songs “Bubble Pop” or “ Pandora” play and I become vexed once again.

Cheers

[MangezAvecFateh] Moby Dick Fish Market and Grill (ENG Version)

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THE HUNT FOR PROPER SEAFOOD- Moby Dick Fish Market and Grill:

A KKonnect Restaurant Review

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Moby Dick has been found! And it is nowhere near New England, in fact it is a little closer to 4805 Convoy St in San Diego.

I recently had the opportunity to visit one of the hidden foodie spots in San Diego. Moby Dick Fish Market and Grill as the name alludes to is a Fish Market and restaurant. The market sells an impressive array of fresh premium seafood from as close as Southern California to as far as New Zealand, Hawaii, Chile, and Japan. The restaurant takes the fresh seafood and makes classic poorboy sandwiches, tacos, and salads to complex pastas, miso zuke dishes, intricate sushi and Korean mixed rice dishes.

One of the great advantages of eating at Moby Dick Fish Market and Grill is that the seafood is as fresh as can be. Fresh seafood means a more colorful, vibrant and delicious seafood.

Entering the restaurant I was immediately greeted by a very attentive and sociable staff. The restaurant grounds were spacious, clean, and well maintained. However beyond the amicable staff and aesthetics, more importantly the restaurant had a true mark of a fine seafood establishment… No fishy smell!

After sharing a few capricious anecdotes with the staff, I then had the wonderful pleasure of meeting the owner of Moby Dick Fish Market and Grill, Mr. Chris Park.

ABOUT THE OWNER:

Saying Moby Dick Fish Market & Grill owner Chris Park has a passion for seafood is an egregious understatement. Not only does Mr. Park have a keen sense of the flavors and preparation of seafood with his culinary acumen, he owns his own fish market, and he also did his undergraduate studies at the University of California San Diego studying Oceanography and Marine Biology. His knowledge and appreciation for seafood would easily show when I and my colleagues were presented with his signature dishes.

DUNGENESS CRAB:

The Dungeness Crab from Washington State was quite succulent, moist and juicy. Not much needs to be said here, the crab was prepared excellently and only needed to be complimented with a lemon butter sauce.

CHERRYSTONE CLAMS:

The Cherrystone Clams came from Connecticut. The clam shells were colorful, easily showing their freshness. The clams were meaty and tender to the bite. A small squirt of lemon added a nice tartness to the savory clam meat. Simplicity and elegance all in one shell.

ROCKFISH:

Seafood is generally presented in a bourgeoisie filet in most seafood establishments. In Moby Dick, when you order fish, you literally get a whole fish presented to you. The Rockfish from Boston, Massachusetts I was presented with was fried perfectly, my fork pierced through the crispy exterior, into the soft and flaky fish meat. My colleagues and I had quite an easy time sharing the Rockfish as the meat separated from the bones so stress-free. The fish was buttery and was presented with a unique tart coleslaw.

JUMBO PRAWNS:

The next dish I was presented with was an array of fried prawns with a spicy ponzu sauce. The bold taste of the giant prawns was complimented with a unique spice seasoning which provided just enough heat to pucker your lips and crave more. The ponzu sauce added a wonderful layer of tartness to the already flavorful prawn. And the portions were quite satisfying.

CONCLUSION:

Moby Dick Fish Market and Grill excels in offering a veritable bevy of fresh fish and seafood including but not limited to ; Yellowtail, Shark, Calamari Steak, Red Snapper, Salmon, Hawaiian Ono, Albacore, Mahi Mahi, Seared Ahi Tuna, Halibut, Swordfish, Chilean Sea Bass and Alaskan Halibut. In addition to the restaurant, a Sushi Academy is offered where one can learn the fine art of Sushi making from a classically trained Master Chef from Japan.

Ultimately, the freshness, variety and owner’s appreciation of seafood sets this establishment apart from others. I look forward to revisiting the restaurant, chatting with the attentive and amicable staff, trying another regional delicacy, discovering new flavors, textures and aromas and learning my way around cutting a piece of Japanese Tuna.

-Fateh K.

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[MangezAvecFateh] Loving HUE Na Eotteokhae What Should I Do?

Cafe Hue Gelato

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[MangezAvecFateh] Loving HUE Na Eotteokhae What Should I Do?

Good Golly Miss Molly, this is not an Asian Market article! *hyperventilates a little*. Surely I have nothing more to contribute, Na Eotteokhae? But wait…

My trips to Asian Markets seldom are just to the markets alone, often times I will visit the peripheral stores around a market complex to examine, ethnic music stores, stationary stores, restaurants, and other interesting places to part ways with the remaining money you had after grocery shopping (plus finding parking in a lot of these complexes typically takes 15 minutes so why not stay a bit longer?).

On my pseudo-sojourn to Japan via Nijiya Market I made quick stop- over to examine a restaurant called Café HUE. Titillating images of Belgian Waffles, Japanese Crepes, Home-Made Gelato guided me to the store while the melody of Korean Pop Music (not sure if it was Kara, T-ara or other some other “-ara” variant playing) emanating through the speakers kept me inside.

Walking inside the ambiance was hip and trendy with the option of customers being able to watch sports, and culinary shows, playing games while relaxing on stools, chairs and even a sofa cushion. American and Korean Pop Music entertain the customers inside the store as well as in the restrooms where the party apparently doesn’t stop.

I examined the menu and elected to try a Nutella with Mixed Nuts Crepe with Taro Gelato (~$8). While watching the very charming employee skillfully make the crepe with excellent batter moving wrist technique, I played devil’s advocate and tried to distract her by keeping my head eye-level with the pan as she carefully flipped the crepe.

A few flips later and a drizzling of caramel and mixed nuts, I was presented with an artistically crafted, beautifully decorated, sexy crepe which clearly passed the vision test. Taking my first bite, time slowed and the only noise I could here was the noise of my lips resonating “Mmm” and an exhale of pure joy. The crepe was simple, elegant, and wonderfully decorated with fruit syrups and filled with whipped creamy goodness. The home-made taro ice cream provided a nice temperature contrast to the warm crepe. The home-made whipped cream inside the crepe added a layer of luxury to the crepe’s flavor profile and a nice compliment to the melted chocolate hazelnut spread. I can honestly say without blatant hyperbole, this was the best crepe I have ever had.

The food, ambiance, and service were all on point when I visited and I have seen this as a consistent theme throughout my subsequent visits and sampling of the other permutations of crepes that exist. It is also worth noting that Café Hue also serves, Coffee, Boba Tee in addition to the aforementioned Belgian Waffles and Home-Made Gelato.

Café Hue is in my opinion the premier creperie south of Montreal, and it is located on 3860 Convoy Street, San Diego, CA 92111 This KKonnect writer highly recommends and is highly satisfied with this side quest.

And yes, this place is not a “Korean Restaurant” per se, but sometimes Dduk just doesn’t cut it.

And SISTAR, if you’re not keen on me using your lyrics on my article, let’s discuss over four scoops of gelato. I put dibs on three scoops.

-Fateh K.

Waffle

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HMART OPENS IN SAN DIEGO: A new chapter in the Asian Market Chronicles

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HMART OPENS IN SAN DIEGO: A new chapter in the Asian Market Chronicles

H-Mart made it’s much anticipated Grand Opening in San Diego on November 17, 2012. The atmosphere was electric as a mass of eager shoppers awaited the opening of the doors, stretching across the large parking lot and looping a few times. Pungmul dancers were frolicking through the crowds, beating drums thunderously, playing horns which resonated throughout Mira Mesa. Representatives from HMart came to commemmorate not only their new store opening, but also their 30th anniversary of existence.

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As the store doors opened, a flux of shoppers charged inside with shopping carts and a flurry of baskets. After surviving a pit of excited shoppers poking and bumping me for room (or perhaps flirting), I emerged and got my first glimpse of the market. Inside a very modern market with both Korean and American products, a deli section, fresh meat, organic produce, and fish market. H-Mart San Diego has the distinct feel of an Asian Whole Foods offering rare high-end American products in addition to Asian products. In addition, there is also a small bakerycalled “Paris Baguette”, offering desserts, pastries, fresh bread and croquettes.

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From my many travels across the United States, I’ve noticed that each H-Mart offers a different selection of products, bakeries and food courts making each H-Mart unique and adding a little intrigue with each store opening.

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In other news, Mira Mesa is slowly becoming the new hub of Asian grocery stores in SanDiego with Lucky Seafood, Seafood City, Vinh Hung Supermarket and now H-Mart.

Now we wait to see how Korean markets like Zion Market will respond to this opening… This writer expects more competitve prices and happier customers.

-Fateh K.

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