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Saturday, March 21, 2009

My Trip to Lotte Korean Market - leave the neuroses at home

Indulge me if you will....
Here is the other title I considered for this post:
"Local Korean Market has a 'Lotte' Seoul"

L and I were running errands the other day near the local Korean chain of grocery stores called Lotte. I have never been in one but heard great things about Asian markets specifically that their produce is much cheaper and they have the freshest fish around at great prices.

I'm trying to get more one-on-one time with the girls and L is always one for an adventure so we popped in...and immediately started taking pictures like the tourists we are. The fact that all the signs are in Korean first, then English, kinda gives you and idea.
Tourist photo

First we strolled through the fresh fruits and vegetables many of which I have no idea existed...or even how to cut, cook and eat. Take, for example, the durian or King Fruit.
Durian "King Fruit" photo credit: Wikipedia

Next we ventured to the prepared meals area where we found a whole batch of sushi (yes, grabbed some to-go of
course), marinating ribs, a variety of seasoned tofu and veggies, a pre-packaged baby squid

Mmm, baby squid

and of course the Asian equivalent of the rotisserie chicken section....roast duck hanging by the crook of it's neck.

L with poultry. Duck on the right.

Finally, we ended our quick trip at the fish department. "Mommy! Look! Those fish have their eyes! Are they still alive?" I hear you just have to ask and the fishmonger will skin and fillet any fish you want to buy. The market was busy that day so I stuck with the pre-cleaned and cut packages of sole and salmon, but not before eyeing the open containers of self-serve shark steaks. Just pick up the tongs, grab a bag, and load up!

Jaws anyone?

I have to say my neurotic self was itching to grab the hand sanitizer and slather it on both of our hands. But I pushed those thoughts back and adopted the 'When in Rome' attitude. Sometimes the best way to know the fish is fresh is to touch it, smell it, hold it - we do it for fruit, why not for fish?

I also have to also note - I haven't been to other Asian markets but this store was Pristine with a capital P...not easy for any grocery store.

My basket quickly started to fill and we had only been down the far right side of the store! I'm definitely heading back there this weekend for produce and just to see what else there is. On the way to check out they had samples of a new grape juice that L seemed to really like. It was tart, almost unsweetened, but tasty all the same.

The BEST part? I got a basket full of fruit, veggies, sauce and fish for under $30.
What should I look for next time?
If anyone has experience shopping at Asian markets I would LOVE some tips on foods to try.

Considering kimchi,


Lisa Mom of 2 Boys said...

Wow, I shop ALL the time at the asian mart and could give you a million tips.
~Try the Korean or Asian Pear - Juicy and Yummy!
~Buy Lotte's SacSac - grape canned drink with grapes in it...YUMMY!
~Buy the Seasoned Spinach in the part where they have stuff made already
~I never go without buying (from same section) the stuff that looks like it is thin red/orange string. It is actually seasoned cuttle or dried fish...sweet and spicy but delicious
~If they have the Chinese Sausage these are yummy if you fry with green onion and garlic and white rice...garnish with fried egg
~Always try haven't eaten koren without this experience (i love it) but I also love the Kimchi diacon (or however that is spelled)

That should get you going for now...check my blog labels under recipes --- I usually put some asian recipes up.


Trish @ Another Piece of the Puzzle said...

Sounds like a great place! At one point, we lived in a primarily Hispanic area and it was funny going to the grocery store and seeing a greeting card section all in Spanish, fruits we couldn't recognize with no English labels, and the smallest pack of tortillas was 50!

Heather @ Not a DIY Life said...

I wouldn't go for the fish eyes either - yuck! But the sushi sounds yummy! Sounds like a fun outing for you two.

Thanks for sharing!

Tara @ Feels like home said...

I've never been to an Asian market, but it sounds like you had a great time. I love your tourist photos! :)

Thanks for taking part in Grace's Kitchen!