Saturday, April 5, 2014

One stop for Korean haircut, manicure and noodles

At Closter Commons shopping center, Korean merchants offer good grooming, good food and more.

Editor's note: Today, I discuss Closter, a small town with a large number of Korean businesses; 100% grass-fed, antibiotic-free lamb at ShopRite; and how Costco Wholesale's prices are said to be lower than Walmart's.


You could be in Palisade Park's Koreatown, where restaurants, nail and hair salons, and cafes are within steps of each other.

But the Korean merchants in Closter Commons are actually about a half-mile away from other Korean businesses in downtown Closter.

And they compete with merchants in an adjoining shopping center that has been renamed Closter Marketplace and, after several years of controversy, is getting a Whole Foods Market.

Trim and vacuum

This morning, I had my hair cut for $20 at Dong Yang Barber Shop, where the barber, Mr. Park, literally vacuumed and massaged my head to pick up stray hairs.

He had cut my hair with a scissor, used a straight razor and cream on my neck and trimmed the hair that grows on my ears, more quickly, it seems, then on my head. 

Then, I strolled over to Perfect 20 Nails & Spa several doors away, where my terrific manicure included a treatment to remove dead skin from the back of my hands ($10). 

A recent addition to Closter Commons is The Barn, which offers fruit, vegetables and baked goods. Other businesses have come and gone, including a full-fledged Korean spa and a sword-dancing academy. 

If you're hungry

I walked out of the nail salon, turned right and went over to Homung Nangmyun to check out the menu.

This small restaurant, with indoor and outdoor tables, specializes in traditional Korean sweet-potato-flour noodles that are served in a cold beef broth with boiled beef or marinated skate ($12.95 and up).

I've had the restaurant's delicious mandoo, dumplings stuffed with kimchi, vegetables, vermicelli noodles or other ingredients (10 for $8.95); and the family style pajun, a grilled seafood-and-vegetable pancake ($18.95). 

The soft-tofu stew with rice and complimentary side dishes is $12.95.

A few steps away is a renovated Gateaux Bakery and Cafe, where I stop for coffee and use all the willpower I have to avoid the Korean pastries, cakes and sandwiches.

Around the corner is a Korean-Chinese restaurant I have never tried.

Last summer, Closter Commons hosted one of the best farmers' markets in Bergen County. 

Closter, a borough of less than 9,000, calls itself the "Historic Hub of the Northern Valley."

The shopping center's address is 570 Piermont Road, Closter.

Closter Dongyang Barber Shop is closed on Wednesdays, 201-767-4541; Perfect 20 Nails & Spa is closed on Sundays, 201-750-7370.

The number for Homung Nangmyun is 201-750-1010

At the ShopRite in Rochelle Park, I saw Nature's Reserve 100% grass-fed lamb, which is raised without antibiotics in Australia, above and below.
The Semi-Boneless Lamb Leg Roast, above, was $4.49 a pound, and the Rack of Lamb was $9.99 a pound. Both have a lot of fat. Fatty Australian lamb chops also were available in store packaging that had no information on how the sheep were raised.

Australian lamb

On the way home from Closter, I stopped at the Rochelle Park ShopRite to get a refund for a 3-pound bag of Macoun Apples ($2.99) my wife purchased instead of the crisper Red Delicious Apples I wanted.

I found a 3-pound bag of organic Red Delicious Apples for the same price, but the two I tried today were soft and one was partially brown inside.

I went to the meat department to see if Nature's Reserve grass-fed beef from Australia was on sale, and for the first time saw 100% grass-fed, antibiotic-free Australian lamb with the Nature's Reserve label.

The whole beef tenderloin for filet mignon wasn't on sale, and was $9.99 a pound ($8.99 a pound at the Paramus ShopRite).

A Nature's Reserve Rack of Lamb was $9.99 a pound and a Semi-Boneless Leg of Lamb was $4.49 a pound. 

The Rochelle Park ShopRite has added four express checkout stands for shoppers with 15 items or less.

In the parking lot of the Rochelle Park ShopRite, a limo driver with New York plates and a handicapped tag hanging from the rear-view mirror sat in the car and relaxed with his seat back reclined, above and below.

Costco v. Walmart

The May 2014 Consumer Reports magazine includes a report, "Getting more from your store," with ratings of 55 supermarket chains.

The magazine also compared prices for a dozen items, including such staples as flour, coffee, cereal and juice; laundry detergent, toilet paper, diapers and ibuprofen, and other items.

"Store brands and Costco [Wholesale] vied for cheapest. came in third" ... and "Walgreens ... was by far the priciest overall."

The magazine noted Walmart's online and in-store prices "were largely the same."

Consumer Reports mentioned Costco's annual $55 membership fee.

But it didn't mention the free True Earnings credit card from Costco and American Express that gives cash rebates on gasoline (3% back); restaurant meals and travel (2%), and other purchases inside and outside of the warehouse store (1%).

Costco's Executive Members pay $110 a year, but receive a total of 3% back on purchases at the warehouse store.

Many Costco shoppers get rebates that easily exceed their membership fee. 

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