10 September 2009

Hanaro Club

I've been meaning to blog about Nonghyup's Hanaro Club for some time now because I've never seen a mart quite like it. Resembling a large warehouse, the Hanaro Club in Yangjae-dong is sometimes described as the "Korean Costco." Membership is not required, nor do you have to buy in bulk, but Hanaro Club does sort of have a warehouse feel to it. It's like the food section of E-mart, only five times larger. (If I had to guesstimate, I'd say the store was at least the length of a football field and a half.) What I find most appealing about Hanaro Club is that it's like an outdoor shijang (market), only it's INDOORS, i.e., air conditioned and slightly less dusty. It feels like a colossal farmer's market, only, without the farmers. The produce seems remarkably fresh, as if some farmer just boxed it all up and dropped it off that morning.

The store is milling with people, but at least the warehouse is large enough that you can maintain your personal space, and not get run over by some woman's cart as you're trying to grab something from the sample tray.

Is it just me, or are Korean veggies unnaturally large? Check out the 대파 (large green onions)! Surely, these green onions are meant to garnish the dishes of giants and not my little bowl of ramyun.

I also encountered a number of unfamiliar veggies including this root vegetable 안동마 (andongma). It's similar to a potato, only with a stringier(?) texture. Apparently, when steamed, it makes a good snack.

I also realized that Korean farmers have been getting all mad scientist out in the shigol, and have concocted some amazing new products. Check out this lime-colored cucumber chili pepper. As the name suggests, this mild pepper does indeed taste like a cucumber. Yes, it's as good as it sounds.

Some farmer even invented the root vegetable of my dreams: 밤고구마, the chestnut sweet potato! Unfortunately, I'm the only one in my household who likes goguma, so I didn't feel like purchasing a box. I'll just have to look for it sold by the pound.

I wish that we had a Hanaro Club near my 'hood. I was told that there is a Hanaro Mart in Yongsan, but I'm assuming that it's not as magnificent as the Hanaro Club in Yangjae.

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