The tiny Korean grocery store, Hong's Market, has been around for 40 years. Yet somehow, I'd never stepped inside despite having eaten a few times at the Korean restaurant in the same strip. And actually, I still haven't been inside, as during Covid-19, customers are not allowed in. On Saturday, I lined up outside to wait my turn to request grocery items. Others had called in their orders that were ready and waiting for payment and pick-up. Some photos are pasted on the door to aid ordering.
Hong's is know for its kimchi and panchan (aka banchan), the chilled side dishes that are the hallmark of Korean cuisine. Preserved by salt and fermentation, these will keep in the refrigerator for awhile, making them handy during shelter-in-place. They are all made in-house by the friendly mom who owns and operates the place, assisted by her daughter, the social media whiz. I picked up five kinds, priced between $5.99 to $7.99 per tub: dried radish, bean sprouts, tenpura (mix of different types of fish cakes), garlic shoots, and potatoes. They're all really good, and I would buy them again. Only a bowl of hot steamed rice was needed to make a meal. I'll confess that I had not been that interested in the potato panchan until the daughter suggested adding a little mayonnaise (Kewpie, of course). The firm chunks of marinated potato and the blend of Fresno chilis and braised onions, turned into a spicy potato salad with that addition. Truly delectable on these warm days.
Besides the panchan and kimchi, I also purchased Kewpie mayo and the Korean radish and shimeji mushrooms I needed to make spicy braised black cod with the whole fish I'd picked up at the K-dock in Monterey. When you have a chance to check it out, let them know this is your first visit. Mom came out from the back to greet me. And I earned a little bonus snack as a first-timer.
302 Carmel Ave.
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