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My Koreans! My Koreans! Why have you forsaken me?


Fat Guy
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The 24-hour Korean market a block away from my crib has closed. The entire structure is surrounded by plywood boards. There are assorted signs up from every agency from the Department of Buildings to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (only on the Upper East Side is the Korean market a landmark), but I can't make any sense of them. I fear the market is gone forever.

Back in the day -- the day being yesterday -- I could amaze my out-of-town friends with instant procurement of chips, dip and Ibuprofen, all at only 400% of the suburban supermarket price. Now, if I want 24-hour Korean market services I have to walk three blocks.

The thing about the increase from one block to three is that round-trip it's an increase from two blocks to six. This is important. With the place a block away, I could call in a takeout order to any restaurant, then walk over to the Koreans for stuff like beer and chips and ice cream, and be back before the delivery guy arrived -- plus even if the delivery guy beat me to my home I could see him approaching in time to yell to him and make frantic hand signals indicating that, indeed, the delivery was for me. This new geographical arrangement means I have to re-sequence everything and get all my Korean stuff before I can order the meal. It changes a half-hour, ultra-efficient process into an hour-long imposition.

I don't even know the market's name, even though it has been my Korean market since 1991. Surely it was something like Number One Happy Eighty-Eight Deli. I know the names of the other two Korean markets within a block of my home. One is called Patrick Murphy Market, because before the Koreans owned it some guy named Patrick Murphy -- who was not Korean -- did. The other is called the Apple Tree Grocery, though it doesn't specialize in apples or even have a very good selection of them. They both close at 9pm, though. It figures I'd count as my neighbors not only Woody Allen, Paul Newman and Kevin Kline, but also the world's only lazy Koreans.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Steve, I have to tell you...I succumbed to the disgusting humidity this morning and took a cab to the office. As I was zooming (well, not so much, really) down Park Avenue, I passed a building at 57th and Park that has a small one-bedroom for sale. I'd been in to take a look (toying with notions of spending a ludicrous amount of $$ for a ridiculously small space), but decided against the neighborhood. Why?

No little markets anywhere.

Now, of course, a New York neighborhood is more than its bodegas or Korean markets. But, to me, it's not a neighborhood worth living in if there isn't a 24-hour market within a one-block (and I mean short, uptown/downtown blocks) radius. Why would you live in Manhattan and pay exorbitant rents if not, at heart, for the convenience of it all?

My current Korean (at 84th and 2nd, northeast corner) is great...they do a fabulous business in greasy hangover cure sandwiches on weekend mornings, and served me well when I woke up with a mysterious cold/flu thing at 3:00 AM one February morning and needed immediate Kleenex and ginger ale supplies.

I'm not sure what the name of the place is, though. I can see it from my "bedroom (area)" window, though, so I'll have a looksie this evening.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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I sympathize with Steven. When you don't have a car, the closing of your neighborhood market is a huge deal.

When I first moved to my neighborhood, there was a small but pretty decent "natural" market right by the streetcar stop on my way home. It was great; I could stop and pick something up for dinner (they also had a deli) or paper towels or cat food -- whatever I needed. It closed a little early for my taste (9:00, I think), but at least it was open when I got off work.

Then it closed, which completely changed my life -- and not in a good way. Yes, there three other markets within a block or so of that old one -- a butcher, a produce market and a little "convenience" store, so between the three of them, I can get most of what I used to at the one market. But the butcher and produce store close at 7, which means I can't couldn't usually get there after work.

Now I go a different way to work, so I have found a different market. There are actually two within a couple of blocks, but if the one I go to closed, I'd be really upset. The other one doesn't take ATM cards, has a much smaller selection of everything and closes earlier. And it's a block in the wrong direction.

I think people who drive to stores really underestimate the difference a block or two can make -- it's one thing to walk four extra blocks when the weather's nice. When it's pouring, and your hands are full with bags so you can't hold an umbrella, believe me, every block counts.

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I think people who drive to stores really underestimate the difference a block or two can make -- it's one thing to walk four extra blocks when the weather's nice. When it's pouring, and your hands are full with bags so you can't hold an umbrella, believe me, every block counts.

Hey, that's why we have delivery. :raz:

But seriously, I do understand the difficulty. I don't drive. (I literally do not know how to drive.) And I live in midtown NY near 12th Avenue, where, until about a year ago, there was literally NOTHING. (Except my building.) And there's not much now, either. So I understand the difference a block or two can make. But the whole thing just sounded so funny when I read it, the difficulty of walking three whole blocks!! That's all. :unsure:

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It's a momentous event.......you should burn the place down in revolt.........or perhaps let the gas leak like that dude on 62nd st.........KA-BOOM!!

Seriously, I wonder how many people base their residence on food supply proximity. I know it was huge for me. I have a large 24/7 Korean supermarket-deli on my corner (triple the size of most). They carry everything from produce to kimchi to Ben & Jerry's (whata deal at $5 a pint.....right!). Also, the Westerly (healthfood) Supermarket, 2 blocks away and open till 12 everynight..........g-bless those sob's for keeping my fridge stocked with healthy snacks! :biggrin:

That wasn't chicken

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g-bless those sob's for keeping my fridge stocked with healthy snacks!  :biggrin:

Especially after all that 'spensive Ben and Jerry's! :laugh:

Actually, this makes me think...the only thing I regularly buy at the Korean, food-wise, is ice cream or sorbet. They have an awesome selection...otherwise, I tend to use them as a catch-all for one-off stuff. Hangover-cure Diet Coke here, emergency beer and chip supply there...

Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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I feel your pain. I think of my Korean deli as my pantry - it's always there for anything at any time.

I haven't lost any Korean delis, but I've sure gained restaurants. As wonderful as that is, I'm not so keen on having lost my laundromat to yet another dining spot. Try dragging a massive bag of laundry an extra three blocks!

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The thing about the increase from one block to three is that round-trip it's an increase from two blocks to six. This is important.

With all due respect....is it possible that for someone named "Fat Guy" the imposition of a couple of blocks might not if anything be a benefit?!?!?

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The thing about the increase from one block to three is that round-trip it's an increase from two blocks to six. This is important.

With all due respect....is it possible that for someone named "Fat Guy" the imposition of a couple of blocks might not if anything be a benefit?!?!?

He's already physically exhausted. He has an infant and a 70lb bulldog.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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While I can understand that this closing is like a grenade thrown into the Shaw/Shapiro household, (and those of its fancy-dancy neighbors,) it makes me feel pretty damn smug about being a suburbanite. Manhattanites, I can get in my car and drive a tenth of a mile to a 24 hour convenience store --Mexican, with a great butcher counter. And I can park.

Yeah, yeah you have all that culture and stuff. It doesn't count as much when you need a Dove Bar and cat food at 2:00 am.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

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1912-2008

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While I can understand that this  closing is like a grenade thrown into the Shaw/Shapiro household, (and those of its fancy-dancy neighbors,) it makes me feel pretty damn smug about being a suburbanite.  Manhattanites, I can get in my car and drive a tenth of a mile to a 24 hour convenience store --Mexican, with a great butcher counter. And I can park.

Yeah, yeah you have all that culture and stuff.  It doesn't count as much when you need  a Dove Bar and cat food at 2:00 am.

yeah but I can get:

jamaican beef patties haagen daaz, roast beef tomato mayo salt pepper cheddar sandwhiches on a hero, condoms, tylenol cold oh and don't for get poland spring with bubbles oh and and and and at 4 am. I've had the buzzer wake me from a almost stone cold drunken stupor, and then there was sandwich...who ordered this? ME! no car nessesary...

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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Funny as a Korean-American I never go to those Korean marts because they're painfully overpriced and the produce sucks. I'm so picky I used to take the subway/bus 20 blocks south to Citarella to get my groceries, until Gourmet Garage finally opened up at 96th and Park. Go figure...

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The only business I have ever walked to in my neighborhood is the Mechanic, not even Gas station just mechanic, not even a soda machine(1 mile).

The nearest pizza 2miles, all you can eat crab leggs bar/restaurant almost 3 miles, deli/liquor store 3 miles.

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Funny as a Korean-American I never go to those Korean marts because they're painfully overpriced and the produce sucks. I'm so picky I used to take the subway/bus 20 blocks south to Citarella to get my groceries, until Gourmet Garage finally opened up at 96th and Park. Go figure...

Well, certainly one doesn't go to these places for produce, and definitely not for Korean products (although one of my locals does sell really nice homemade kimchi). They're no substitute for Fairway, they're stores of convenience. They're where you go for a six-pack of beer and a pint of Haagen Daaz while the Chinese delivery is on the way.

--

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Funny as a Korean-American I never go to those Korean marts because they're painfully overpriced and the produce sucks. I'm so picky I used to take the subway/bus 20 blocks south to Citarella to get my groceries, until Gourmet Garage finally opened up at 96th and Park. Go figure...

Jeanki, I do my major grocery shopping at the Fairway in Harlem (we have a car; they have free parking), and I think people who do a full grocery shopping at the Korean markets (there are plenty of such people in my 'hood) are overpaying and probably not getting very good quality on many items. There are plenty of situations, however, where despite the best laid plans one has to supplement one's weekly grocery shopping. The Korean markets charge a hefty premium percentage-wise, but the convenience supports that premium on a few items once in awhile. If I need a quart of milk or a couple of onions, it's only a dollar more to get those from the local Korean place than it is to get them from a supermarket -- but the supermarket may not be open, or may require an extra half hour of transportation, and supermarkets aren't well designed for people who just want a couple of things. Likewise, if it's 10:30pm (or 1:30am) and I've just ordered Chinese food, I may also want a couple of beers or a Haagen-Dazs dark-chocolate-covered vanilla ice-cream bar or whatever I may want on a whim, and the cost is worth it to me just so I don't have to keep an inventory of all of the 500 things I might want. I'd rather have the Korean place keep the inventory and charge me a dollar each time I take advantage of it.

P.S. Gourmet Garage has been a nice addition to the neighborhood but it's rather overpriced and has limited selection. I use our GG much the same way I use the local Korean markets: if I need last-minute, unexpected bread or a few produce items, and GG is open, I'll walk over there and get what I need. But I never do a full grocery shopping at GG -- Fairway is much better for that. Likewise, I don't get my serious bulk staples at Fairway -- I go to the suburbs every month or so for that stuff. (There's a rumor circulating in the 'hood that Costco is building on 116 and the East River -- with parking. If that's true, it may alter my patterns a bit.)

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'd rather have the Korean place keep the inventory and charge me a dollar each time I take advantage of it.

A whimsy tax. :wink:

is that part of the new york city "$40 walk out the door" tax? or supplemental?

i have to agree with fat guy though. sure, you can get into your car and drive if you live in the burbs...but with gas prices and even public transportation in nyc costing $2 (each way unless you're sneaky and can do the transfer thing), the premium you pay at your local bodega is totally worth it.

would take the m57 down to bed bath and beyond, do my shopping and then take the m15 (i think, on first ave) back home just to get the transfer.

all of this just makes me homesick though. i haven't walked in months! damn california!

Edited by alanamoana (log)
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Steve, you mentioned upthread that you travel to the Harlem Fairway for major shopping. Well, I've got a great alternative - the Red Hook Fairway.

Went there Friday for the first time (I think it's been open six weeks). It's better than either Manhattan Fairway with one exception.

Let me get the exception out of the way. I'm not impressed with their produce section. Sure it's very large, but the selections are limited as they have the same item in several places . In addition, the prices are on the high side. I guess I've been spoiled by Circus Fruits and Three Guys (both in Bay Ridge).

However, the rest of the store is exceptional. Great fish (nice looking soft shells), meat (best short ribs I've seen in a while), cheese (better selection than Manhattan), bakery (yes, they have the mini bagels) and coffee sections (try the Brooklyn Bean - very strong, very good). The store is so large their general grocery section is outstanding and they have extra wide aisles. And yes, free parking (large lot in front similar to supermarkets) and just 10 minutes over the Brooklyn Bridge or Battery Tunnel.

But here's the real payoff. They have a small cafe with outdoor seating that has the best view of New York Harbor and the Statue of Liberty - absolutlely breathtaking. Plus a restored old-time trolley sits in their backyard. It will make you forget Harlem (and it's inconvenient parking across the way and down the road apiece).

Now when are they coming to Staten Island?????

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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The 24-hour Korean market a block away from my crib has closed. The entire structure is surrounded by plywood boards. There are assorted signs up from every agency from the Department of Buildings to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (only on the Upper East Side is the Korean market a landmark), but I can't make any sense of them. I fear the market is gone forever.

Your Koreans have not forsaken you. There was a structural problem with the building and they will be back, however long it takes. The people at Apple Tree are very nice. An elderly Korean couple.

I've had really nasty interactions with Murphy's ever since they changed hands. I saw the owner's car get rammed, wrote down the licence plate and she never even thanked me. No free food no, not even a free pack of cigarettes. When the market changed hands, they had a cat named Murphy. the new owners never took care of him so the corner bookstore took him in.

Sorry for the blank posts but i just became a paying member and could not figure how it works.

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  • 1 month later...

Hallelujah!

(Rich, I live on 93rd Street -- the Harlem Fairway is a very short drive; the Red Hook Fairway is a very long drive. I'm going to check it out one of these days, though.)

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Like the swallows of San Juan Capistrano, my Koreans have returned!

I walked by the location on the way to Citibank, and it was open for business. Construction on the exterior is not quite complete, but there is a brand-new and quite spiffy interior with a completely different floor plan and they're mostly stocked with merchandise.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Hallelujah!

(Rich, I live on 93rd Street -- the Harlem Fairway is a very short drive; the Red Hook Fairway is a very long drive. I'm going to check it out one of these days, though.)

If you're going to Red Hook then I think your time will be better spent at the soccer fields. :)

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