The Han Ah Reum Korean market on the 32nd Street Koreatown stretch is, as far as I have found, the best Korean grocery in Manhattan. (There’s a bigger, better Han Ah Reum in Flushing, the neighborhood with the most delicious things per square mile.)
The Manhattan Han Ah Reum branch manages to squeeze all the components of a proper supermarket—produce, fresh meat, fish, prepared foods, grocery items, frozen foods—into a relatively small space, so it gets a little cramped. But it’s a great place to wander the aisles, looking for new things to try, or just stop by and grab a kimchi pancake for a snack.
Plus, it’s open until midnight, so if you’re having a drink at the Me Bar on the roof of the nearby La Quita Inn (a bizaare but lovable spot and my favorite rooftop bar in the city), you can stop by here for a snack.
Holland red chiles: Sometimes it’s hard to find the fresh, long, ripe red chiles that add both sweetness and heat to Korean dishes. Find them here in plastic-wrapped styrofoam trays, very fresh.
$7 per pound
Pork bulgogi: Fatty strips of raw pork, marinated in plenty of garlic, soybean paste, chiles and soy sauce. Take it home, sizzle it up over medium-high heat and wrap it in lettuce to eat. Instant Korean barbecue.
Ssam Jang: Grab a container of this sauce to go with your bulgogi. The thick, reddish-brown paste is made of fermented soybeans, chiles and plenty of garlic. It’s salty, spicy and deeply savory. Smear it on your meat before you wrap it up in lettuce.
Sunchang Brand $4.99
Soy eggs: Find these in the refrigerated banchan (Korean side dish) section. The eggs are cooked in soy sauce, water and sugar, so they’re like boiled eggs but much better.
$3.99 per pack
Frozen mandoo: Grab a big bag of frozen kimchi mandoo (dumplings) and microwave or steam them at home.
Bobu Food Co. 8.99 per approx 2.5 pound bag
Unagi: Also in the refrigerated section, you can find vacuum-packed bags of whole filets of grilled, seasoned eel, similar to the kind that you get at a sushi bar, sticky with a dark, sweet-salty sauce. All you have to do is bake it and serve.
$7.99 per pack
Han Ah Reum
25 W 32nd St # 1