Korean supermarkets, like H Mart in Manhattan, carry not only all manner of foods — like gochujang, three-layered pork belly, and Korean snacks — but also a range of practical (affordable) kitchen and home goods. Perusing the household aisle at these stores is almost as fun as shopping for food — the best way to engineer a makeshift Korean barbecue restaurant, or stock a Korean-mom-approved kitchen, or simply snag a delightful housewarming gift. Below, a list of the best supermarket finds that you’ll find in, oh, 90 percent (an unscientific estimate) of Korean households.
For city dwellers with limited access to outdoor space, this nonstick, electric tabletop grill by Zojirushi is the next best thing to an open charcoal flame. It gets really hot and cooks a mean short rib, pork belly, and, heck, even hot dogs — complete with grill marks. A removable drip pan makes cleanup a breeze. Enjoy an authentic Korean BBQ restaurant experience from the convenience of your apartment.
You’ll find this faux-wood (actually plastic) table in many Korean households, where the older generation prefers to sit cross-legged on the floor for their meals, the traditional way. When you’re done eating, simply fold up the legs and store it away until your next meal. You might have seen them in Hong Sang-soo movies, where characters sit on the floor and get drunk on soju like there’s no tomorrow.
Korean spoons have shallow, wide mouths and long stems, the better to eat a steaming bowl of tofu stew or oxtail-bone soup with. You’ll never go fishing for a lost spoon ever again. You’ll find this at homes and restaurants alike, usually in a little utensil box with chopsticks that lives on the table.
Koreans like to think that using chopsticks makes you smarter, but who knows if that’s true. Instead of dealing with splintery disposable ones, opt for these twisty bamboo ones instead, which, for me, are easier to handle than those weighty, skinny metal ones you find at restaurants.
Start ‘em young: For the budding Asian-food enthusiast, this plastic trainer set helps kids get used to the mechanisms of using chopsticks. As a bonus, you can introduce them to Pororo, Korea’s most popular little penguin.
At most Korean restaurants, rice is presented in these stainless-steel bowls with lids. They’re the perfect serving size and keep the rice warm. But first, use this Japanese rice paddle to fluff fresh rice, then spoon it into the bowl.
I hate mosquitoes, but they unfortunately love me. Call it cruel, but this electric bug zapper electrocutes these pesky insects at the moment of contact. And so, like a baseball bat, the mosquito racket has become my weapon of choice, kept beside my bed during those warm summer nights.
When I first saw this pastel play mat at a friend’s house, I was surprised by how nice it looked in her living room. Thick, cushiony, and smooth to the touch, it’s also foldable — ideal for city apartments. It’ll keep your baby comfortable, from tummy-time to when they’re toddlers, and even their older caretakers. Like those ubiquitous puzzle play mats, but better.
Most Korean households rely on hermetically sealed food containers to prevent garlicky aromas from permeating the refrigerator. Sometimes they’re plastic, and sometimes they’re glass. This glass Snapware set is one of the best.
The Strategist has covered the glove version of these towels before, but the bath-size ones are great because you can sling them over your shoulders and scrub your back in a diagonal motion. Like getting a really satisfying back scratch every time you shower.
I drink this tea like it’s, well, water. I don’t know exactly what it is except that it comes from the root of a flowering plant of the same name and that my parents like it. It has the nutty flavor of barley tea, but imparts a cleaner taste. It’s like the hot-tea equivalent of Gatorade. It quenches your thirst.
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