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Korean food in Western Mass

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bibimbob Sep 1, 2008 07:58 PM

I am in the Amherst Area. Many Koreans here at UMASS, both as students and faculty. There's got to be some Korean restaurants and or grocery stores nearby. There is a small Korean restaurant & store in Hadley and another 2 or 3, so-called asian markets.

Can anyone give me some recommendations for Korean food and or grocery.

Driving 1/2 an hour or so is not a problem either.

Thanks.

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    nuthatches RE: bibimbob Sep 1, 2008 08:43 PM

    Hi, I'm half Korean and live in the Amherst area, and choose not to go to the restaurant you refer to on Rte 9 in Hadley. In my experience a lot of what they have is reheated and they are stingy in their panchan. I have found Soo Ra in Northampton to be o.k. for noodle soups but certainly not great.

    I'm afraid I do not know of a great Korean restaurant in the area though one might exist outside of the Pioneer Valley perhaps in Worcester or Hartford. For groceries, I used to go to Lotte market in East Hartford for my basic provisions. My last trip there about one month ago was not as good as usual, though -- lots of stuff not in stock, few customers -- made me uneasy and caused me to wonder if there is some new Korean market that was stealing the show in Hartford. I still do not know about that, but given the lack of Korean food in the Pioneer Valley, Lotte might be good to visit (with a cooler and room in the back of your car, to make it worth the trip).

    I once went to a Korean grocery store in Worcester that I liked -- might be the one called "Twins" that is referred to elsewhere -- sorry, can't remember for sure.

    Otherwise, my Korean food comes from my kitchen, supplemented by occasional trips to NYC, Washington DC (Annandale), and my mom's house in Seattle. ;-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: nuthatches
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      bibimbob RE: nuthatches Sep 2, 2008 09:39 PM

      I found a note online while doing a search that also mentioned Twins Oriental - I think it was in Westborough. Thanks for your reply, I will look into the place in East Hartford also.

    2. Bri RE: bibimbob Sep 2, 2008 05:56 AM

      I've never been to the one in Hadley, but it appears to be a place that people either love or hate. There is also a Korean restaurant in Greenfield, but I don't know the name, because I never see it posted. Search "Korean Greenfield" and something should come up.

      There's also a Korean restaurant in Brattleboro, VT called Shin-La. Since I'm such a nut for the kim chi chigae, that's really all I ever order there and its my favorite kim chi chigae of any other Korean restaurant that I've been to.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Bri
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        nuthatches RE: Bri Sep 2, 2008 06:14 AM

        Ah, yes, that place in Greenfield is called Manna. It's very very small -- maybe 4 or 5 tables tops -- very casual -- you sit and wait for the food virtually in the proprietor's kitchen! I've had mandu and bibimbap there -- both were unremarkable but OK in a pinch to address such a craving.

        In re: OP's note about grocery stores in the area, I think that both of the stores in Hadley that would be called Asian (there is Tran's, and then the other one I think is something like International Market?) try to address the grocery needs of a wide variety of Asian ethnicities, which fits considering the population size and diversity. They address these needs, I think, to differing degrees -- more successfully for Southeast Asian palates, less so for Korean or Japanese. But they are not "so-called" Asian markets IMO -- they are for real -- just not comprehensive.

        On another note, you might see ads (in the Valley Advocate and elsewhere) for a little store in Springfield called Omi -- purportedly also pan-Asian but with an emphasis on Korean provisions. I wouldn't recommend going there -- very little selection, a very drab place -- crowded, unclean looking -- just not worth the trip.

        Mom's (primarily Chinese, in Amherst) sells absolutely wretched kimchi, and certainly doesn't seem to make an effort to stock a wide variety of Korean goods. Their produce, however, CAN be excellent. They sometimes carry beautiful, inexpensive baby bok choy, I think from that nearby Chinese farm connected to Amherst Chinese restaurant (Chang's?). Other times their Thai chillies are growing fur and their garlic is moldy, so it's hit or miss for them.

        1. re: nuthatches
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          hollerhither RE: nuthatches Sep 2, 2008 07:03 PM

          Yeah, I'm afraid Go Hyang edges out Manna bit in the bibimbap category so if you don't like Go Hyang it may not be worth your while. People have recommended Soo Ra in Northampton, I got take-out there a couple of years ago but wasn't too impressed, at some point maybe I'll give it another shot. Have heard decent reports about Shin-La.

          1. re: hollerhither
            fame da lupo RE: hollerhither Sep 4, 2008 04:36 PM

            Soo Ra is hit and miss, although the hits I do like quite a bit. Go Hyang didn't really do much for us.

            1. re: fame da lupo
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              corinnerose RE: fame da lupo Feb 1, 2010 06:27 AM

              What are the hits at Soo Ra?

              I've only been to Go Hyang, but I'd like to give Soo Ra a try. Seems suspicious that they also serve sushi?

              1. re: corinnerose
                fame da lupo RE: corinnerose Feb 1, 2010 08:04 AM

                I've only tried the standards, e.g. bulgogi and the baps. Tasty. But what I really think they do best is fry stuff :-p Get the Soo Ra combo appetizer, fried, delicious.

                1. re: fame da lupo
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                  corinnerose RE: fame da lupo Feb 1, 2010 09:16 AM

                  hmmm, good to know. the app w/ gyoza, shumai, and eggroll?

                  Any idea how the bulgogi and bap compare to Go Hyang's?

                  1. re: corinnerose
                    fame da lupo RE: corinnerose Feb 1, 2010 10:17 AM

                    Yeah. I typically am not an eggroll guy, but these converted me. As to the rest, I thought they were better, but beware that I am no Korean food expert. I do live around the corner from Soo Ra, so I might be biased just b/c it's comfort food at a very short walking distance, which scores points during the winter.

        2. re: Bri
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          bibimbob RE: Bri Sep 2, 2008 09:40 PM

          Thanks for the info on Shin-La, I will do a search and try to get there.

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          donl149 RE: bibimbob Oct 13, 2008 02:18 PM

          Have you tried the House of Teriyaki in North Amherst (1 mile north of UMass)? I'm not Korean, but everything I've had there I've liked. Mom's is more Chinese with Asian groceries. Good Chinese food for lunch takeout--better than a lot of the restaurants in the area.

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            chapagetti RE: bibimbob Nov 19, 2008 01:18 PM

            Lotte Market has moved to 1140 Burnside Ave in east hartford. The store is twice as large now, cleaner and stocks A LOT more groceries! Also, there is a Korean take out in the back of the restaurant where they sell hot and fresh dishes. I found their website here: lottemartct.com

            This is THE place for korean groceries in CT so give it a try. Everyone in CT goes to Lotte mart

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