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.
“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.”
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