Photo by Simi Claire
A Koreana Plaza International Market fishmonger gives junior Sahej Claire advice on which ones to buy. He discussed the value of each type of fish displayed in the market, and what one can use each type for. Before buying the fish, it’s standard for the salesperson to cut the fish open and take all of the insides out for the customer.

In the “Shop Till You Drop” series, staffers visited grocery stores and markets that offer goods from around the world. Check back tomorrow to see freshman Héloïse Schep’s review of Cost Plus World Market. 

The whir and click of the rolling metal belt at the heart of Koreana Plaza International Market (10971 Olson Drive, Rancho Cordova) punctuates the dozens of tortillas churning out every minute. Nearby crackling, fresh tortilla chips in 18-inch bags beg to be dipped in guacamole.

Originally a Korean market, KP International Market now boasts the widest selection of foods and products I’ve ever seen; it includes Asian, European, Hispanic and American goods all under one enormous roof.

With fresh vegetables at one end, a mini fish-and-meat market in the middle and a mall-worthy cafeteria at the other, the market is an all-purpose, Costco-sized warehouse in which shoppers can easily spend hours. (I can attest to this – I almost got lost a few years ago.)

Some of my favorite products include the fresh tortilla chips, Japanese ramune (marble soda) and Hawaiian yams (otherwise known as Okinawan sweet potatoes) that are brilliantly purple inside.

Ramune is sealed with a marble that is pushed inward to drink and comes in distinctively shaped bottles. It’s a refreshing drink in a variety of flavors like bubble gum, green apple and lychee.

Because Koreana offers food from so many cultures, staples like rice, spices and noodles are reasonably priced and have whole aisles dedicated to them.

Customers can also find a smorgasbord of European meats, cheeses and butters near the live lobster, crab, catfish and halibut.

One drawback of the wide selection is that finding a specific product can be difficult.

I wandered around for nearly 15 minutes looking for ramune before asking an employee for help. However, it was almost worth it; I saw more foods I’d never heard of in those 15 minutes than I had in all my 16 years, including alligator feet, peeled sugar cane, halal meats and a live frog.

Food aside, a trip to Koreana is worth it just to experience the lively atmosphere. Crowds of shoppers of all ethnicities and backgrounds flock to the market to find foods popular in their native countries and can be heard speaking in all different languages to each other and the staff.

By Sahej Claire

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