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What to buy at Korean Plaza Oakland?


Krys Stanley
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I know kim chee about Korean Foods .. that’s it kim chee.

So when jschyun mentioned Korean Plaza market in the ‘Newcomers Essentials’ topic, I probably would not have visited, but she said it had a bakery. Well, bakery crosses all ethnicities for me. I never met a bakery I didn’t like.

The store is amazing. A Berkeley Bowl of Korean Food with lines of cars spilling out to Telegraph Avenue vying for the next open spot.

The small bakery counter had a lot of things that looked like what you see in a Chinese bakery. I selected a pumpkin bun and a pretty piece of sponge cake like a jelly roll. I forgot the name. This was not only pretty, but delicious. It had a light butter cream instead of jelly. In the center were green and melon colored pieces of sponge cake. I would buy this again. I would serve this as dessert to guests. The pumpkin bun had a nice sweet roll exterior, but the pumpkin wasn’t too pumpkiny. More of a bean paste taste. Ok, but I’ll try something else next time.

I hope there is someone out there who shops here and can direct me on what to buy.

There is an outstanding array of all kinds of prepared foods spanning one whole wall of the store. In the front there is a section of hot foods like long beans with shrimp and steamed buns. There are four big bins of little round fish cakes. Do these get eaten as is? Do you eat them cold?

It is a full market with shelves of Korean groceries, freezers full of Korean food, a produce section, plus household items. Kim chee jars, as it happens, are on sale this week. If you want pealed garlic, this is the place to buy it with huge bags in the produce section. I was looking at the ginko nuts. I need to find out how to eat these first. Maybe my next trip.

Anyway, I’d appreciate suggestions on what is good to eat. Probably something along the tamer lines to start. It seems like there was something with ginger and peanuts. I don’t want to start with the octopus.

Speaking of something unusual that caught my eye … I might have copied this name down wrong. I was intrigued by the green, I mean GREEN, little plastic container marked ascidian. All I could find was that this was “minute sedentary marine invertebrate having a saclike body with siphons through which water enters and leaves” It didn’t look fishy. It looked like shredded something, but GREEN. If anything, I would have guessed seaweed.

This was like a free trip to Korea with the advantage that most stuff was marked in English as well as Korean. I’ll definitely be stopping in to try a little of this and that. I hope I can get some hints on where to start.

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Oh wow, glad you liked your trip there. That is the best Korean market I've been to in that area. Actually, compared to some of the huge markets in Los Angeles, that one is average to small. (If you're in Northridge, check out the monstrous Galleria market, for example).

Yes, I am a sucker for any kind of bakery.

I haven't met a pumpkin bun I've liked for a long time. There used to be this place near me that had chunks of kabocha squash in the filling. (Kabocha squash is what they mean by pumpkin here) The firm yet lusciously smooth textured squash was nestled in the creamy pumpking filling, all surrounded by a light yet chewy sweet bun dough. That place has so gone downhill, so I won't mention the name. *sigh* I often try pumpkin buns at different places, but it's usually just orange paste in an indifferent, doughy slab of bread. But I am ever hopeful.

Crap, I have to work, but I or some of the other Korean/Korean-Am folks will answer your other questions later.

Edited by jschyun (log)

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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Thanks so much. I think I have food issues. I will actually visit that market when I'm in LA. In a different ethnicity, I really miss the El Tigre Mexican super market in Escondido. THey have branches, but that one is so excellent ... and there is a great paletteria next door that makes their own fruit popsicles. I wish we had something like that in NoCal.

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Oh wow, glad you liked your trip there.  That is the best Korean market I've been to in that area.  Actually, compared to some of the huge markets in Los Angeles, that one is average to small.  (If you're in Northridge, check out the monstrous Galleria market, for example).

What others are there down in that region? While I am down south in Idyllwild, I will probably take a day and head to LA proper. I am addicted to the Santa Monica farmers market, and I will probably head over on it's best market day, Wednesday. I would love to check out other markets in the region as well.

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--artisan02

Well, there is of course, Koreatown in East L.A. and there's a Galleria mall which has a supermarket in the bottom floor. They're all part of the same Galleria chain.

Idyllwild is about 100 miles east of Orange County, so we might be out of your way but if you ever trek out west, you can always PM me if you want someone to help you out around here. Warning: I mostly only do Asian food places and bakeries. You also might want to get some help with the Palm Springs area, since that is closer to you.

LA Times farmers market list if you're interestd

--Krys

That long span of foodstuffs is basically the deli and you can pick up whatever you want. Most everything is ready to eat, but there may be exceptions, but can't think of any right now. I don't know what to tell you to buy, to be honest. PM me next time you're thinking about going to Oakland on a weekend if you are interested in a more long-winded explanation.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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--artisan02

Well, there is of course, Koreatown in East L.A. and there's a Galleria mall which has a supermarket in the bottom floor.  They're all part of the same Galleria chain.

Idyllwild is about 100 miles east of Orange County, so we might be out of your way but if you ever trek out west, you can always PM me if you want someone to help you out around here. Warning: I mostly only do Asian food places and bakeries.  You also might want to get some help with the Palm Springs area, since that is closer to you.

Yes, I would love some help with the entire area. I am one of those that is willing to drive to find good products. I have a few things on my list already, for when I am in the area, some of which are in Orange County. I have decided to take a day or so here and there, while I am on vacation down there, to check out various places I have read about.

I have gradually been checking out the farmers markets down in that area. I have heard that the Irvine one is a good one. And I am hoping to find some closer to Idyllwild while I am there. The one in Idyllwild is "closed" for the winter, but there must be some decent ones that are open year round near enough to Idyllwild.

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Krys-

I've never been to the Korean Market that you're referring to. But I have been to plenty

in Los Angeles (also in Korea). As a non-Korean initially I was a bit overwhelmed. The smell was quite strong to me and the first time I tried kimchi I thought my tongue was burning off. But now I eat more kimchi than my wife does. Actually that doesn't say much, because she doesn't really eat kimchi.

I'm not sure what to suggest since I don't know what your tastes are. As for the prepared foods I find that they will let you have a taste of something before you buy it.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Krys, is this Pusang Market, right? They also have an extensive meat counter, as you no doubt noticed. They also have some of favorite Korean snacks: sweet millet crackers and roasted seaweed (laver).

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Thanks all. It seems I have myself a new little food interest to explore and I'm not even done with my search for Portuguese (post to come sometime next week).

I am so curious about the Korean Markets with delis and bakeries because I just had no clue. I was going to post on the general food topics board on eGullet for other parts of the country that have these, but there were mentions in a couple of threads, so I'll read through those first before posting in the general food board here. There was even a mention of Korean markets in Paris like Hana by La Motte-Picquet. Who knew?

Anyway, back to the Bay Area, do little Mom and Pop markets iaround here have takeout food?

That long span of foodstuffs is basically the deli and you can pick up whatever you want. Most everything is ready to eat, but there may be exceptions, but can't think of any right now. I don't know what to tell you to buy, to be honest. PM me next time you're thinking about going to Oakland on a weekend if you are interested in a more long-winded explanation.

Good to know. Those little garlic cloves in the red sauce. you don't just eat those as is, do you? Are they hot? My scedule is such that I was just going to throw a print out of this post in the back of the car for when I am in the area. I tend to go off hours to places to avoice the crowds. THe weekends seemed pretty crazy. Next time I go, I'l jot down some names to ask about. What about Korean beverages? I only glanced quickly in the dairy section so to speak.

I haven't met a pumpkin bun I've liked for a long time. There used to be this place near me that had chunks of kabocha squash in the filling. (Kabocha squash is what they mean by pumpkin here) The firm yet lusciously smooth textured squash was nestled in the creamy pumpking filling, all surrounded by a light yet chewy sweet bun dough.

Ohhhh, squash not pumpkin. That explains it. Your description of that but has me salivating. I'm sorry it is no longer there.

If the pumpkin is average, any other fillings to look for? I really liked the sweet roll part and it would be a good alternative to a Danish. That really was a nice little bakery. The stuff was really fresh.

Krys, is this Pusang Market, right? They also have an extensive meat counter, as you no doubt noticed. They also have some of favorite Korean snacks: sweet millet crackers and roasted seaweed (laver).

Hest88,

Thanks for the tip about the crackers and roasted seaweed. Would those be found in the cracker section or the bakery? I thought I saw some cookies in the bakery.

Hmmm, it just says Korean Plaza outside. I hadn't considered that the interior could be owned by different people and thus the word "Plaza". It is on Telegraph just off of Grand.

At any rate, as I stop by I'll be posting back on my hits or misses. I'm psyching myself up on that green stuff.

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Hest is right, I think this used to be known as Pusan Market, but my memory is bad so i'm not certain. FYI Pusan is a city in Korea (city in southern part of S. Korea)

Yes you eat the garlic cloves just like that. PM me and i'll tell you a joke about Koreans and garlic.

A very Korean beverage you can get in cans at korean markets is this malted rice beverage known as shikhye. Tastes better than what one would think from the description. I think a cold can of shikhye is a good introduction to korean drinks. Swirl the can before drinking so you get some rice grains in every sip. The manufacturers kind of skimp on the rice though so you may only get a couple of grains. However, homemade, as in melonpan's post in the Korea section, is better of course.

Palace BBQ in Sunnyvale, on El Camino Real, used to do a good shikhye, as well as a decent sujongkwa (spiced persimmon punch), but I have not been there in a while.

I'm not sure what green stuff you're talking about. I'd have to see it. Maybe someone else smarter than me can answer that one.

I love cold Dinty Moore beef stew. It is like dog food! And I am like a dog.

--NeroW

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RE: Fillings for Korean Buns.

The most common is a sweet bean filling. Adzuki beans, I recall.

The rice cakes that have a filling have the same. Or a sweet sesame filling (reminds me a little bit honey is a way), or sweet mung bean (?) filling (delicate yellow). As for the rice cakes that aren't filled but are topped with something, the ones just topped with adzuki beans are not sweet. The ones topped with squash (sometimes nuts as well) are a little sweet.

As for Korean beverages. Soju! It's a grain alcohol. Also malkulee, it's another alcoholic beverage. Creamy appearance, strong fermented taste.

Also, all of the prepared (well maybe I shouldn't say all) but in every Korean market I've been too (which is a lot) the prepared foods in the deli are ready to as is.

I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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Thanks for the tip about the crackers and roasted seaweed. Would those be found in the cracker section or the bakery?

Krys, the crackers are in the snack section and the seaweed is where they usually have the large variety of dried seaweed.

Oh, I Googled a reference to Pusan Market now being called "Koreana Plaza"!

There's also a newer Korean Market, but I haven't been able to come up with the name. My mother prefers it to Pusan, because she says it's cleaner, and it's easier to park. It's in that shopping complex at approximately 7th and Market, across the freeway from downtown Oakland.

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I think the new one is called Eugene's Market. It' next to a McDonalds right?

It took over the space that was Gateway Market. So they still have that sign there.

I agree with your mom, I prefer Pusan (or Koreana Plaza as it;s called now) to the new one. They have more stufff and it's cleaner...

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  • 2 months later...

It's an entirely slow reply but I'm a huge (non-Korean) fan of Koreana Plaza so what hey.

To my mind, the things to get there are:

White Fish for soup, damn is it cheap.

Kim Chi, of course

Rice Cakes. I eat them relatively unseasoned, they're a great carb.

Alcohols. Good deals on sojus (which will be enormously trendy by 2007, you heard it here first). Good deals on high-quality plum wine, I enjoy a spritzer. $23 for Johnny Walker Black, $10 cheaper than Bev&More or a Grocery Store.

Japanese & Korean Candy, Aloe drinks - I don't have much a sweet tooth but they are still very good.

Sashimi-quality fish: What little I've had has been high quality.

There's a lot of other stuff there, but they can be found at downtown Chinese stores for a cheaper price. Getting the best foods and the best deals in Oakland involves going to 5 or 6 stores, and Koreana Plaza is one of them.

But if anybody has any other recommendations there, I'd love to hear them.

There's also a small Korean store called Eugene Market on 14th & Webster. They recently became less Korean (bad) but more clean (good). Their kim chi is a little bland to my mind, but cheaper. Anyway they're worth checking out for a good Korean-style alcohol selection. Including a plum wine that comes with gold flakes, it's beautiful. $15 for 375 mL though, so I haven't tried it yet.

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There's also a small Korean store called Eugene Market on 14th & Webster.  They recently became less Korean (bad) but more clean (good).  Their kim chi is a little bland to my mind, but cheaper.  Anyway they're worth checking out for a good Korean-style alcohol selection.  Including a plum wine that comes with gold flakes, it's beautiful.  $15 for 375 mL though, so I haven't tried it yet.

I like that place, and agree that it's nice that it's cleaner, but the selection seems less exciting than it used to be. I'll swear that the Do Ha Na cooks duck out to buy ingredients from there during lunch (it's just two doors down). They have little wrapped lunches of various spicy veggies and fish that can make a great, cheap lunch, if a bit monotonous by the end: best to get one of these and maybe some banh mi elsewhere, and split with someone.

Their seaweed selection seems pretty limited, in my mind, but that's easily remedied by the Chinese market on 7th between, I think, Franklin and Webster? No idea what it's called, though.

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