Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Costco is catering to Korean customers

Shin Ramyun LunchImage by The Toad via Flickr

Costco has always been popular with the growing population of Korean-Americans in North Jersey (the discount merchant has warehouses in their native country). But now, the store in Hackensack is starting to stock kimchi and ramyun -- two staples of the Korean diet.

For a couple of years now, I've watched Korean customers load their carts with enormous packages of beef and farmed salmon (they don't seem to appreciate the benefits of wild fish and naturally raised beef and pork). 

But several weeks ago, there were samples of a new item -- cabbage kimchi -- being given out. I looked at the label and MSG was among the ingredients, so I continue to get my kimchi at Gaboh Inc. in Englewood, where the Arirang kimchi is made without that artificial flavor enhancer. And last week, I saw a woman with a big package of  instant ramyun bowls. I asked her if she thought the noodle soup was cheaper at Costco than at H Mart, the chain of Korean supermarkets in Bergen County, and she said yes.

This afternoon, my wife returned from Costco with 20 packages of Nong Shim-brand spicy instant ramyun that my son has been eating for a couple of years, because of the relatively low sodium content (photo). At $12.99, it works out to about 65 cents per serving, compared with $1 at H Mart for a package of five.

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