The quest for bargain Le Creuset brought me to the TJMaxx at Fresh Pond, which was fruitless, but it DID bring me to one of my favorite places, New York Oriental Market, on Fresh Pond Parkway....
You know that tired little strip next to Fresh Pond Seafood, with a closed Knapp ShoeStore and a tired little grocery store that looks like it might be closed too?? Go in.
Whenever I have Korean food, I sit and say, "Wow, I could make a meal of thse little side dishes!" (I think they're called panchang, or namul..) But you only get them with a meal..Well, imagine all the different, delicious, rare treats you've only been served in tiny dishes, and the chance to buy them, and more, by the pound..And they're fresh enough that you can see Mama in back cooking them..And her husband offering you tastes!
New York Oriental Food isn't much of a food market, definitely a hole-in-the-wall..Their card brags, "Japchae, Bulgogi, Galbi & Lottery".. But walk past the several shelves of Asian packaged groceries to the deli counter at the back...Chowhound paydirt!!
There are usually around a dozen selections, always fresh, sometimes still cooling from the skillet. Their seaweed salad is the best I've ever had, combining 3 or 4 different types to produce a taste that differentiates it from the generic and syrupy version found everywhere in town..And $3.99 or $4.99 a lb.
My favorite is their squid salad; big hunks of barely cooked squid, carrot and onion, in a a red-pepper heavy version of the basic kimchee paste. $5.99. Garlicky marinated bean-sprouts, those fried baby anchovies, cucumber kimchee, home-made radish pickles, yam root, burdock, something I just tried today that was chewy and garlicy, and the guy said was "cotton"..I dunno, but I bought 1/2 pound...
Sometimes they have little baby crabs in hot sauce..Today the surprise, and budget-blower (the only one at $12.95) was cuttlefish. I saw it listed on the wall, but not in the case.."Any cuttlefish today?" he pointed to something I just thought was a slivered veggie kimchi..But no!! Slivers of dried cuttlefish, just reconstituted by their bath in spicey, slightly sweet, red pepper and sesame oil, topped with sesame seeds..
There's always a bunch of different versions of marinated vegetables..And actually, their freezer case is pretty good; good selection of dumplings and frozen cut-up octopus, which I would have bought, but I wasn't going straight home...And big bags of rice..(One of the chefs from Summer Shack was in there trying to get a deal on Jasmine Rice cuz she was in a pinch, but it sounds like they weren't her regular supplier, and they knew it!)
As I was chatting, (well, using that term loosely, due to my non-Korean) the owner said that they do japchae, all veg, on the weekend, and other weekend cooked treats you can call and order..617-868-9850. Call and go! Or just go! Fire up the rice-cooker, and chow.