When Kimchi Just Isn’t Enough: The Yeti’s Guide to the Western Markets in Seoul

Seoul has always had a fair few things to offer expats: bars that stay open until you leave, liberal liquor laws, hiking, noraebangs on every corner, 24hr coffee shops, streetfood, and $5 t-shirts. However, Seoul has (up until recently) been relatively lacking in good western groceries and booze.

Since Ahi and I first came to Seoul (early 2009- jeepers!) the number of foreign markets in Seoul has more than quadrupled (perhaps less impressive when you take into account the initial number- one.) and microbrews are increasingly available (though, for now, remain stubbornly expensive).

We expats no longer have to rely on care packages to get our twizzler/vege-meat/fresh bread/hummus/oatmeal/deli meat/fancy cheese/pesto/cadbury black forest chocolate/reese’s pieces/IPA fix.

As our time here grows, so does our desire for, well, non-Korean stuff. Here are a few places we like to get it:

Foreign Food Mart

Foreign Food Mart

In a nutshell: The original. ‘Nuff said.

Deodorant galore!

Sweet finds: The cheapest chickpeas in town ($3.50/kg), a wall full of deodorant, cadbury chocolate, vegan ramen, fresh naan, cumin…

Getting there: Itaewon Stn, Exit 3. Walk straight for a bit. Turn right at the first real road. Wander up the hill. FFM is a little way up, across the road on your left.

National Food Mart

National Food Mart

In a nutshell: A shiny new version of the Foreign Food Mart, with slightly cheaper tempeh.

Ahi browsing the ramen aisle.

Sweet finds: Quakers oats, $1.50 tempeh, frozen vegetables, rooibos tea, vege samosas, weird soy curl things…

Getting there: Go to the FFM. Look across the street. Tada! 

High Street Deli

High Street Deli

In a nutshell: The most western atmosphere, the highest prices.

Forking out almost $40 for a six pack is a scary thought for us, but an inevitable reality…

Sweet finds: Reese’s pieces, peanut butter pretzels, fresh ciabatta, hummus, a decent (or so I’ve heard) selection of deli cheese* and meat, weetbix, corn tortillas, 6 packs of microbrew, organic hibiscus ginger ale…

Getting there: Itaewon Stn, Exit 2. Walk straight for about 500m. HSD is above the first 7-11 on your left. 

Pinoy Mart

Pinoy Mart

In a nutshell: Teeny shop, a few rare, rad items, a super friendly owner.

Aga-ve! Aga-ve!

Sweet finds: Wholemeal sliced bread, soy lunch meat, twizzler, diet mountain dew, agave, root beer…

Getting there: Noksapyeong Stn, Exit 2. Walk for about 300m, until the road forks. Veer left at the kimchi pots. Meander past a bunch of (for want of a better word) funky bars and cafes for a few minutes. PM is across the road, on your right.

*Word on the street is that High St Deli also carries vegan cheese and almond milk. F yeah.  Click through the below slide show to see all the goodies available.

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