Has watching all those Korean dramas made you crave Korean food? We feel you.
While there are plenty of delicious restaurant options out there, why not recreate your own piping hot bowl of sundubu-jjigae (soft tofu stew), comforting naengmyeon (cold noodles) or even DIY a hearty Korean barbeque at home?
For starters, you’ll need to get your hands on authentic Korean ingredients. To help you out, we’ve listed down seven places where that import ingredients directly from South Korea, from frozen meats to fresh fruits and vegetables. Most are available online too!
1. Shine Korea
Shine Korea is probably the biggest Korean supermarket chain in Singapore, with 11 outlets around the island. They have quite a few outlets downtown and in the CBD area, with a several heartland stores in Tampines, Harbourfront and Woodlands.
Shine Korea claims to sell “authentic Korean products at the best price”, which sounds about right. Their prices are quite competitive, and they do have a huge variety. They sell everything from packet ramyeon, tidbits, condiments and beverages.
The famous samyang fire noodles are $6.90 for a pack of five, and you can find lots of Korean chips and crackers for under $2 per pack.
If you can’t swing by any of the physical outlets, you can also shop online either directly at their website. There’s free delivery for orders above $80, and you will get your groceries within five days.
2. Koryo Mart
There are a lot of people who visit Korean supermarkets just to feel Korean. That’s right – no shopping lists, no agenda. Just there to comb the shelves and soak in the atmosphere.
If that’s the experience you’re looking for, give Koryo Mart a shot. It seems to be targeted at Korean expats living in Singapore – even their website is mostly in Korean. Koryo has eight branches, some of which go by the name “K-Market”.
Here you can stock up on kimchi, ramen noodles, topokki, seaweed, soups, sauces and marinades, as well as a range of frozen meats including pork belly (samgyeobsal) and short rib bone (LA galbi) for your DIY Korean BBQ.
While Koryo Mart is one of the cheaper Korean supermarkets, in general, the prices don’t vary by that much across the chains. If you have one near you, great. If not, don’t bother – you’ll probably save only five to 10 per cent. Delivery is free with a $70 minimum order, though!
SolMart’s website is also in Korean, but unlike Koryo’s, there are no English translations. So if you want to shop on their e-store, be prepared for some (probably inaccurate) translations by Google.
It may be easier to shop on their Qoo10 store instead, or visit one of their three outlets in Novena Square 2, West Mall or The Star Vista.
In addition to the usual snacks and condiments, SolMart also sells fresh meat, fruits and vegetables, such as Shingo pears and oranges from Jeju, all imported from South Korea. The fresh stuff isn’t particularly cheap though – 500g of sliced beef is $13.90 and 500g of pork belly is $11.
For those, you might be better off heading to your nearby NTUC.
Order by 12noon for next-day delivery, with free shipping for orders above $80. For orders below $80, there’s an $8 delivery fee. Delivery is not available on Sundays and public holidays.
4. Lee Mart
There are three Lee Mart outlets, which are at Chinatown Point, Suntec City and Hillion Mall. In addition to Korean groceries, the Suntec City Mall outlet actually has a diner where you can order fresh kimbap (Korean sushi-style rolls), kkochi eomuk (fish cake soup) and even a selection of side dishes or banchan.
Their online store also stocks a variety of ingredients for you to recreate your favourite Korean dishes, such as frozen fish cakes, cheese tteokbokki (rice cakes), and bean paste for stews. Delivery is free for orders over $70.
Lee Mart also has a small selection of snacks and cooking ingredients on Qoo10 and Foodpanda.
HarinMart is an online Korean grocer; they do not have a brick and mortar store. That would explain their prices, which seem the lowest of all.
For instance, a standard 360ml bottle of soju is only $9, compared to $10+ elsewhere. HarinMart sells a huge variety of products, including Korean side dishes (like pickled radish and rice cakes), frozen and dried seafood, ready-to-eat meals and more.
They even have Korean ginseng products ($6.80 to $285).
Delivery is a flat-fee of $3 with minimum order of $50.
6. K-Fresh Zones at selected Fairprice outlets
You can now pick up seasonal fruits and veggies at 18 FairPrice Finest and Fairprice Xtra outlets (see outlet listing here).
These outlets have designated “K-fresh” zones for premium seasonal Korean produce that are freshly imported from Korea, such as perilla leaves, ssam cabbage, incubator pumpkins, chestnut sweet potatoes, muscat grapes and Hallabong mandarins.
As the produce is seasonal, you can consider calling ahead to find out what’s available before heading down.
7. K-fresh on RedMart
Want to buy K-fresh goods online? Go to RedMart and select the brand “K-fresh”, which will show you all the seasonal fruits and vegetables available now, all at fairly reasonable prices.
RedMart also imports a variety of popular traditional Korean frozen foods, such as soy marinated Suhyup Korean Crab ($35.40) and Arumi Korean Japchae ($4.80).
This article was first published in MoneySmart.