California Marketplace: Push Your Epicurean Envelope

California Marketplace
The California Marketplace on Western at Fifth provides inspiring new ingredients to try in your own kitchen.

Tired of shopping for food at the same old supermarkets, cooking the same old meals, finding the same old ingredients in your cupboards? We all need some inspiration at times – and I found it on the corner of Western and 5th at the California Marketplace.

Stepping into this giant Korean supermarket that opened late 2015 feels a bit like you’ve been transported into the heart of Korea. Formerly the home of the iconic, but well-worn Gaju Market, this new facility with free parking (entrance off Oxford Ave.) also offers some Filipino and standard American products. Included in the market is a Tous Les Jours Bake shop, a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, a fresh fish market, a kimbap (korean sushi roll) counter, and, my personal favorite, a kimchi bar.

The fresh vegetable and fruit section alone can make one swoon with all the possibilities of new greens to use in your dishes, and the snacks, rice cakes, tofu, fresh fish and condiments you’ve never seen before are almost overwhelming, but thrilling. Many times of the day salespeople will be cooking a product on site for public taste-testing. After trying the spicy ramen noodles I made certain to find the beer and wine aisle to pick up a six pack to take home to counteract the heat of the ramen I’d be cooking.

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The fresh vegetable and fruit section is vast and varied.

“A visit to the California Marketplace is like a mini vacation to a foreign land,” a regular Marketplace shopper and neighbor told me. “There is always excellent produce and often there will be wonderful delicacies cooking for shoppers to taste.”

California Marketplace
Greens like “Nira” and “Sesame Leaf” offer new ways to get your vitamins at really great prices.
California Marketplace
This spring Napa Cabbage is 18″ in diameter and flat as a pancake.
California Marketplace
There are tanks swimming with live shellfish and whole fish laid out on ice.
California Marketplace
The beef is pre-cut for Korean-style grilling. Two of many options: Washyugu Beef Tongue and Top Blade Shabushabu.
California Marketplace
Kimchi, in many forms and flavors is produced on site, as well as sold packaged on refrigerated shelves. It would help to speak Korean to better know what you’re getting – but some of it you can taste-test.
California Marketplace
Snacks with a twist: try the Pizza-flavored Korean Burrito.
The rice cakes and snack foods offered are foreign to many of us; the market also sells Cheerios and cookies you'll recognize.
The rice cakes and snack foods offered are foreign to many of us but the market also sells Cheerios and cookies you’ll recognize.
The bakery sells beautiful cakes and pastries as well as breads and buns.
The bakery sells beautiful cakes and pastries as well as breads and buns.

Plan to spend a bit of time if you are energized to find new ingredients to experiment with in the kitchen. Or just stop in for some quick prepared food at the bento counter.  Take the family along: kids will love exploring the piles of vegetable or the fish swimming in the tanks with the promise of a sweet treat when you’re finished.

California Marketplace
450 South Western Ave (at 5th)
Open daily 7 am-10pm

 

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About Julie Grist

Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.

One thought on “California Marketplace: Push Your Epicurean Envelope

  1. I love, love, love California Marketplace!!! My family is from Hawaii, so it is just like home – like the old Ooka Market in Maui. The prices and quality are excellent! The staff is so nice and helpful. They do run a freebie item each week. Last week they offered a free watermelon to each customer. Thank you so much for spreading the word about this great business. Also, the marinated meats are great to pick up and broil or barbecue for a delicious, quick meal. Many, many gastronomic delights await you!!!

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