This article is part of a series on the hidden (and not so) gems of Vancouver and the surrounding area.
The funny thing about living in a city is that one person’s hidden gem is another’s regular place.
What may seem unexplored and unknown to one person, to another is part of everyday life – a place that they know about and visit for years. This is what makes life in the city so exciting and dynamic: you can always find something new that is, in fact, already deeply woven into the fabric of the community.
The city market is one of those “hidden” places. Sure, Vancouver has plenty of big chain supermarkets to stock up on groceries, but it also has small, family-run markets that cater to ethnic enclaves and stock their shelves with lesser-known and hard-to-find products.
For people living in Mount Pleasant, Kim’s Mart is one example of this kind of place. The Korean grocer has everything from rice vinegar to packs of ramen to dozens of brands of gochujang.
I have been buying 90% of my groceries from this store since I first moved to the area three years ago.
Food choices are wide and varied, and you’ll find Japanese cucumbers alongside giant jackfruit, perilla (a leafy plant in the mint family), tons of mushroom varieties, and generous packets of gailan. The food section at Kim structures most of my food.
In the aisles, you’ll find several types of noodles, dried seaweed, chicken fry dough bags, and other essentials for Korean cuisine.
There’s also a range of snacks with treats like ramen chips, cookies and, of course, Pocky. Kim’s also stocks some Japanese brands, as well as bottled coffee drinks, Chupa Chups sodas, and Ramune drinks.
Kim’s has a freezer stocked with frozen dumplings, seafood, and goodies like mozzarella corn dogs. Always reasonably priced in the meat and fresh seafood section – this is the place to go if you want to buy a whole fish or octopus.
Don’t forget to stock up on things from the refrigeration section before leaving. Kim’s is a great place to get wonton wrappers, tofu, fresh noodles (seriously, don’t fall asleep on fresh noodles), mochi, and homemade banchan.
You can also try Kim’s homemade kimchi, which they make in several different varieties, including vegan (no fish sauce) and white kimchi. This stuff comes in small containers as well as giant jars for those who use kimchi for more than just banchan (a Korean side dish often paired with rice).
One of the best things about this part of the market is that you can dine while shopping – containers of freshly made kimbap (or kimbap, Korean sushi), boiled squid appetizers, and pickled seaweed line the shelves for easy grabbing. and forward options.
A small freezer at the entrance holds Melona bars, taiyaki (fish-shaped ice cream pastries), and other frozen treats.
A favorite tradition is to take one of the market’s paper bags filled with Korean sweet potatoes fried on the spot and eat them on the way home.
For fans of H Mart, Kim’s Mart offers almost the same products, but in the context of the local market. I was able to buy three bags of groceries for about $90 – something that would never happen if I was shopping at one of the other big grocery stores in the area.
It takes a special kind of grocery shopping experience to get “inspired” by cooking, especially considering that over the past two years, most of us have been cooking most of our food at home. But small markets like Kim’s are once again bringing back the excitement of home cooking, like a magic spell in the form of glass noodles and shishito peppers.
The next time you’re looking for specialty items that aren’t available at Buy Low or Safeway, stop by Kim’s Mart and get ready to be inspired to cook new dishes – and don’t sleep on fried sweet potatoes!
The address: 519 East Broadway, Vancouver
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