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Difficult to Find Ingredients

Every week on the Ulsan Online Facebook group, we get requests for help locating specific, non-Korean ingredients or food that are not available in the neighbourhood marts, or even some larger grocery stores. Here is a list of places around Ulsan, or online, to check for those harder-to-find ingredients.

Costco – While they still focus on Korean foods, there are many treasures tucked away in the warehouse style store. Things like sour cream, bacon, and varities of snack foods and candies can be found. You do need a membership card to buy things here (about 35,000won), and the items come in bulk sizes, so sometimes a shopping buddy is a good idea. There’s a whole article on getting to Costco here, and it’s pinned on the Interactive Map under “Shopping”. (Closed the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month, New Year’s Day, Lunar New Year’s (Seolnal) and Chuseok holidays).

jt-costco-map

The full sized map is available in our article

Foreign Town – This shop, located across from the bus terminals in Samsandong, sells a wide range of food from many cultures. Curry pastes, Chinese sauces, lentils and lamb are just a hint at the goodies that can be found here. Chances are, if you’re looking for a non-Korean ingredient in Ulsan, you can find it here. It’s also pinned on the Interactive Map under “Shopping”.

There are two other foreigner-marts out in Donggu, “Asian Food Mart” and “Best Asian Mart” (pinned under “Shopping”, and one of the Vietnamese restaurants (Asia Vietnam Mart – pinned under “Dining”) in Seongnamdong (Shinae) has a mart selling Vietnamese products.

Bakery Supply Store – These guys cater to the baking industry, but the shop also has some general foreign food products. They have New Zealand butter, oatmeal, syrups, tortillas, and a changing array of other supplies. It’s worth taking a nose around to see what goodies can be found. And if you’re into baking, it’s a must-visit place. They have a large supply warehouse out back, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for on the shelves, ask the staff. You may need a phone translator or knowledgable Korean friend to help out, though many ingredients have Konglish names. Being able to read Hangeul will be helpful, too. Pinned on the Interactive Map under “Shopping”.

iherb.com – This website seems to be the answer to most of the “where can I find” an ingredient questions. They also stock some non-food products, such as deodorant, that can be elusive in Korean shops. People often share their discount codes on the UO Facebook group, and shipping is apparently quite quick and efficient. The best part of iherb is that you don’t have to leave your home to find what you’re looking for.

Homeplus, Emart, MegaMart, Lotte Mart – These larger chain grocery stores (all pinned on the Interactive Map under “Shopping”) carry more and more foreign products all the time, especially Homeplus, which is owned by Tesco, a UK-based company. There is usually a section of an aisle dedicated to foreign foods, but some of the foods can be scattered throughout the shop. Sometimes it takes a bit of scouring to find what you’re looking for, but many “basic” foreign ingredients can be found in these big shops. As with Costco, they observe the governments special closing days for big grocery stores, but these days can vary. We try to keep up-to-date information about the twice-per-month closures on the Events Calendar, but we apologize that it’s not always accurate (they change frequently). The general rule is either the 2nd Sunday or Wednesday and the 4th Sunday or Wednesday – so maybe just avoid shopping Sundays and Wednesdays 😉

Hyundai_Department_Store_Bucheon

Department Store Groceries – New Core, Hyundai, Lotte – The grocery stores in the basements of the department stores (all pinned on the Interactive Map under “Shopping”) tend to be pricier than the chain grocery stores, but they also carry some foreign products, and they tend to have the widest selection of cheeses. If you’re not counting your ship-wons, you can find some really nice import products on their shelves, including chocolate and biscuits. The department stores tend to be closed on Mondays.

Checkbook – A tiny used bookstore in Mugeodong that sells British chocolate bars and some snacks on the side. Pinned on the Interactive Map under “Shopping”.

A sample of Checkbook's non-literary goodies

Gringos Korea – Craving a burrito? These guys home-make Mexican food and ship all over Korea, and the burritos are darned good. You have to order 6 things in an order, so if you don’t have a freezer, invite some friends over for a delicious party! Just send them a message through their Facebook page.

gringos

Gringos many burritos

Mediterranean Food in Korea – Another online business where they deliver hard-to-find treats to your home.

Jake Corre, contributing Restaurant Reviewer and member of the UO Facebook group had these places to add:

Gmarket is always worth checking, they have lots of things that aren’t readily available in stores.

Other websites:

http://www.france-gourmet.co.kr/ is a French store out of Seoul that makes a variety of sausages, pates, and currently just one cheese but they want to expand I believe. Online orders only.

http://waegfarm.com/wp/ is the only place selling homemade goat cheese that I’m aware of. You can order online or head up to the farm in Gyeongju and pet a goat then eat its cheese.

This place sells duck eggs: http://map.daum.net/?panoid=1022426372&pan=255.3…

Chinese stuff! There are a number of Chinese groceries around town. They all have the basics but vary on additional things. They don’t have consistent stocks so I can’t really point you to specifics for the most part, but at Hakseong Park there are two more or less right next to each other so that’s a good place to start. The two near City Hall aren’t far apart either. These pins are approximate, the signs are in Chinese so just look for that.
City Hall: 643-1 Sinjeong 1(il)-dong, Nam-gu, Ulsan, South Korea This one is pretty friendly, on the main road. Left side if you’re going from City Hall toward the river. Big selection.
455-29 Sinjeong 3(sam)-dong, Nam-gu, Ulsan, South Korea This one is close to Gu Gu Gu and run by the same people, also a good selection of sauces and stuff. Right side of the main road if walking toward the river.
Hakseong Park: South Korea, Ulsan, Jung-gu, Hakseong-dong, 35-14 학성가사원 This one is called Asia Mart in English and is directly across from the big Hakseong bus stop. They usually have looseleaf green tea, and tofu skins in the freezer. Sometimes you get the stink eye here and sometimes they sit you down and insist you have lunch with them, it’s a good one.
291-5 Hakseong-dong, Jung-gu, Ulsan, South Korea This one is brand new. They have a huge selection of different varieties of lao gan ma (Angry Lady sauce).
Hogye: 730-6 Hogye-dong, Buk-gu, Ulsan, South Korea I’m not as familiar with Hogye so I hope that’s the right location, it’s on the small dry stream that runs through the central area, near the market. Generic Chinese grocery, there’s no reason to go to it specially but if you’re in Hogye it’s more convenient.

Vietnamese stuff! Every (true) Vietnamese restaurant (not the chain Pho restaurants owned by Koreans) has a store attached. The biggest one is Thao Uyen’s, you can find the location in the restaurant guide. The second floor is the restaurant, but go up the stairs and there’s a Vietnamese grocery. They also have some non-Vietnamese stuff, like dates from the UAE.

Nobody at these Chinese/Vietnamese stores speaks English. They usually speak Korean, or if you know Chinese or Vietnamese that is best. You can get by with miming.

Of the street markets I find Ujeong and Sinjeong markets the most likely to have exotic (for Korea) vegetables. I’ve found turnips, beets, jalapenos, and cilantro in those on occasion. The big permanent street market in Seongnamdong near the E-Mart tends to have a good selection of the basics and is cheap. Never buy seafood at a street market in summer because there’s not much ice being used most of the time.

As an addition to the big shops note, every store’s inventory is different. The Jung-gu Homeplus typically has the largest variety of exotic stuff, even moreso now that it’s being remodeled and turned into like a Trader Joe’s or whatever the hell is going on in there. Find the sales shelf too, sometimes there’ll be relatively nonperishable stuff put out on ridiculous sale. I’m still using a kilo tub of gochujang I got like eight months ago for 500 won on the sale shelf.

There is also a small Asian Mart in Mohwa, the northern end of Ulsan, past Hogye and Cheongok (end of the line for the 402 bus) that carries goat meat.

(Thanks, Jake! Lots of great places to explore!)

Jason Teale, long time Editor and resident Photographer here at UlsanOnline.com also added these:

If you’re in Busan, check out the Shinsegae Food Market in Marine City (between Haeundae and Gwanganli Beaches). It’s pricey, but has a lot of hard to find ingredients.

Or try ordering from High Street Market, which carries a lot of premium, hard to find foods, from aged English cheddars to Bob’s Mill flours and gluten free brownie mix. Some of the prices might seem high, but remember, this is the only place to find many of these things in Korea, and they’ll ship it to your house.

If you know of any other places that I’ve either forgotten to list, or don’t know about, please share them with us! Add a comment, post on UlsanOnline.com, and/or add it to the Where to Find section of the UlsanOnline.com Survival Guide. Happy eating!

 

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