In response to my praise of Koreatown Galleria (Olympic and Western) in comparison to Koreatown Plaza (a couple blocks north) a while back, one person had harsh words of disagreement (see the attached link). He found the food court at the Galleria to be more expensive and lower in quality. What's worse, he claimed to find "several different types of rotting fruit at the galleria and didn't find one that was close to being edible". Them's fightin' words! So what's the deal? Chowhound truth or jealous slander? I went back to both places to investigate in more detail.
First, as to the fruit. I carefully compared several types of fruit at the two markets. Because the market at the Galleria is about three times as large as the one at the Plaza, you'd expect to find about three times as many bad items. And that's what I found: one piece of slightly moldy fruit at the Plaza and three pieces of slightly moldy fruit (out of thousands), plus one piece of fruit that, while not rotten, had a hunk unappetizingly taken out of it, at the Galleria. On the whole, I found that both places had standard average supermarket fruit. The Galleria had better apples, the Plaza much better nectarines, the Galleria better plums, and the peaches were identical to where I assume they have the same supplier. By no stretch was the fruit inedible at the Galleria market. Neither place could compare to the farmer's market (no supermarket does), but there was no significant difference between them. Where the difference in size between the two stores makes a real difference in shopping is in the vegetables; the Galleria has a wider variety and more of everything.
Next, as to the food courts. I could find no evidence of higher prices overall at the Galleria. For example, bibimbap is $5.99 at the Galleria and $6.47 at the Plaza. I didn't have room in my system to try the bibimbap at the Plaza for comparison with the real-good-but-not-top-notch bibimbap that I had at the Galleria, so instead I tried to find vegetable dumplings to compare. I ended up with Big Dumplings (that was the English translation) from the vendor at the Plaza that calls itself (in English anyway) Plaza, and they were not that great. The wrappers were fragile and the filling was crumbly and not very interesting.
There are other differences between the two food courts. The Galleria has naengmyon, but I couldn't find any naengmyon at the Plaza. The Plaza has carrot juice and the Galleria doesn't, but the Galleria has a coffee house (expensive but high quality). The eating area at the Galleria is vastly more pleasant, with natural light, vaulted ceiling, and an opening onto the atrium, as opposed to the fluorescent cellar at the Plaza. I'd be interested to hear of others' experiences with either of them.
In short, then, my research, while hardly exhaustive, casts doubt on the harsh words of our colleague. Although I'll certainly be conducting more research in the future, for now my conclusion is the same: the Koreatown Plaza is okay, but the Koreatown Galleria rocks.
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