While most large supermarkets in Seoul (like Homeplus or Emart) carry many of the staples foreigners are used to using in their cooking, there are still many ingredients that are quite hard to come by. Artichokes? Fat chance. Real bacon? Nope. A nice selection of cheese? Not usually, although you can find a few different kinds at Homeplus. If you find yourself really missing a certain food from home, there is a chance you can find what you’re looking for in Seoul – you just have to know where to go! As easy as that sounds, it should be noted that many shops do not have websites and/or clear and easy-to-find addresses. Pay close attention to the directions included below and do not hesitate to ask for directions en route.
The best place in Seoul to find foreign food is called Hannam Market. It is located on the outskirts of Itaewon, where all of the foreigners in Seoul go to shop, eat and hang out. You need to walk a bit out of the way from Itaewon and find the Volvo dealership on Hannam-ro. This store is extremely easy to miss, as it’s located in the basement of a much larger, more imposing building. As they have no website or official address, you really need to follow the directions carefully. Here is the easiest way to get to Hannam Market:
Take the subway to Hangganjin Station on line number six. Walking down the slope, cross the street over the pedestrian bridge. Keep walking down the hill until you see a Harley Davidson and Volvo dealership. Hannam Market is really close to these dealerships. It is located on the left side of the road as you walk down the hill.
Alternately, you can call them and place an order for delivery! They have an abundance of amazing (albeit, overpriced) food that you’ve probably been missing since you left home. Vanilla extract, artichoke hearts, whole wheat pasta, real Canadian bacon, food colouring and an assortment of junk food and sauces. It’s a heavenly place.
Phone Number: 702 3313
Costco carries many foreign brands of food in bulk. You will need a membership card to shop here, however. Also, you can find a large assortment of Western alcohol brands, pre-made Western style food and a large selection of freshly baked muffins, doughnuts and coffee cakes. There are two Costco locations in Seoul: one in Sangbong, Jungnang-gu and the other in Yangjae, Seocho-gu. To get to the Sangbong location, take subway line number seven to Sangbong Station. To get to the Yangjae location, take subway line number three to Yangjae Station. For more information on items in stock or locations in Korea, you can visit the Costco website: http://www.costco.com/
Open from 10 AM to 10 PM every day.
In Itaewon, Chef Meili is a deli featuring homemade Austrian style sausages and other cold cuts and cheese. It’s expensive, but delicious. As with Hannam Market, there is no website or address, so to speak, just take the subway to Itaewon, line number six. Make a U-turn at the top of the stairs and you will see it on your right just passed Geckos.
Chef Meili Telephone: 794 7024
Haddon House is another specialty food shop where foreigners are able to get their fix for foreign foods. With a great selection of cheese, pre-made Western style dishes (especially your Thanksgiving turkey) and other Asian food ingredients (Thai, Vietnamese, etc.), Haddon House is another recommended resource for homesick (or maybe we should say, foodsick) expats. Located in Hannam-dong, the shop is not easily accessed by subway. Your best bet is to take a taxi from Hangganjin or Itaewon Station. It is located close to the UN Village in the basement of Hannam Heights Apartment Complex.
Haddon House Telephone: 794-0511 or 2297-8618
Around the Hannam-dong area there are several other small shops that cater to foreigners. Two shops in Itaewon, and one other shop is located near the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
There is a small shop called Foreign Food Market, in Itewon. To get there, take line 6 to Itaewon and go out exit 3. Walk straight until you get to Dunkin Donuts. Turn right and walk up the hill after passing the Dunkin Donuts and UN Night Club. You will see it after walking up the hill for about 8 minutes. It will be on the left side of the street. This shop sells phone cards, frozen foods, and foreign junk foods, sauces and mixes. They also have a good selection of Indian foods and ingredients, including fresh hummus. You can also get a variety of foods here from all over the world.
The aptly named Red Door shop is located down the street from Chef Meili, on the other side of the road. There are several antiques shops along the way, and it will take about five minutes of walking from Chef Meili. Here, it has been noted, there is a good selection of veggie dogs and burgers.
Jell Deli is walking distance from the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Hannam-dong. To get there, take a taxi or bus to the Hyatt, cross the road from the Hyatt entrance, turn right and then take your first left. Walk down the hill and it will be on the right side of the street. Expats mainly go here for their great wine selection.
Other shops around Seoul:
At the COEX Mall in Gangnam you will find a small specialty shop that sells lots of pasta, sauces, wine and other Western foods (mainly condiments and candy/chocolates). To get to the COEX, take subway line number two to Samseong Station. The mall is quite large, but there are information desks with English speaking clerks to help you if you can’t find the shop. It’s close to the City Air Terminal entrance.
In Sorae Village, the French area of Seocho-gu, there is a wine shop with a variety of international, good quality wines. It’s name is Tour du Vin and it sells wine as well as deli style meats and cheeses. To get there, take subway line number seven to Banpo Station and find Sorae-ro, where the Palace Hotel is located. It is open from 10:30 AM to 1 AM. Tour du Vin Telephone: 533-1846
There is a Philippino Shop in Hyewha-dong, Jung-gu that sells a large variety of products from the Philippines (obviously) as well as other foreign products. You can get there on subway line number four to Hyewha Station. it is located just North of the subway station near a rotary.
Another Philippino shop that sells an abundance of expat favorites including American potato chips (for example, Lay’s Salt and Vinegar) and a variety of other goodies from home. They also take requests and do catering services. They are called Pinoy Mart and are located in Heabongchon in Youngsan-gu. Heabongchon is located next to you Youngsan Garrison Army base accross from the Lexus dealership in Itaewon. To get there take subway line 6 to Noksapyeong station. Go out of exit 2 and walk straight until you come to the end of the side walk. Here you will find a row of kimchi pots next to the brick wall of the army base. Walk straight for around 10 minutes. Pinoy Mart is on the right side of the road, just passed the Family Mart.