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Oct 7, 2010 04:04 PM

Best store-bought kim chi and where to find it in LA

I love kim chi and am trying to eat more fermented foods. While I'm happy to eat it in restaurants, I'd like to have some on hand at home and have neither the time nor the inclination to make it myself right now. Any suggestions on your favorites and where to get them? Thanks!

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  1. Han Kook Market on Western in K-town.

    They've got more kimchi and other fermented panchan goodies than, well, than just about anywhere I can think of. And it's good, authentic stuff.

    If my cousin's wife didn't make this for us, I'd buy some stock in Han Kook Market ...

    2 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Perfect! This is exactly what I wanted. I'll head over there tomorrow.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        Gosh, you have me in the mood :) My personal favorite is the Pickle Kimchi, especially when it fresh and crispy. In Korea they bury it underground to ferment. Perhaps I will let my winemakers know this fact. We may have a new wine..

      2. I like Joe's and Kohala brand Kim Chee. Both from Hawaii can be found at MaruKai.

        6 Replies
        1. re: flylice2x

          How long can store bought bottled kim chee be kept in the fridge before it goes bad?

          1. re: Galen

            It doesn't go bad... just gets better.

              1. re: Galen

                Kim chee can last a loooooong time because the fermentation prevents it from actually "rotting" or "spoiling." In fact, if stored properly, it can probably last over a year. Keep the container (preferably glass) tightly sealed. Only use clean utensils to extract kimchi. Try not to disturb kimchi too much when taking out. After taking kimchi out, slightly squish remaining kimchi under liquid so it's covered.

                Of course, the cabbage will change and become more sour or "sshyu." Kimchi in this stage is eaten primarily (and much preferred) in jjigae, or kimchi based soups/stews. I prefer kimchi when it's fresher but that's personal preference.

                That said, there is a point when kimchi is even too far gone for stews, but that takes a hell of a long time. Hard to describe but the cabbage will start to take on a floppy translucence and there will be an overwhelming carbonation upon first bite.

                1. re: sparkyk

                  It also adds an interesting funk to fried rice.

                  1. re: sparkyk

                    Well, left around too long, the cabbage also loses its crunch and becomes very much a "denture-friendly" foodstuff.

              2. After trying most of the brands at the Galleria Supermarket in K-Town, we decided our favorite is the one in the upper right-hand side of this photo. Unfortunately I don't know the brand name, but it has an oval label. There's more than one brand with an oval label, but it's the one with a horizontal red bar on it. The ingredients are really good, and they don't use MSG. (Many brands use MSG to make up for inferior ingredients.) Next time we buy some I'll post a better photo and the brand name.

                In addition, there are two other places I've been meaning to try:

                Seoul Tosoonyi -- Lau gave them a great write up a few months ago:


                Surfas -- reportedly they carry "Mother-in-Law's Kimchi", an artisinal
                brand created by the daughter of the founder of Jang Mo Gip in Garden


                12 Replies
                1. re: Peripatetic

                  I COMPLETELY AGREE! I am Korean and was completely spoiled by my mom making our own kimchi at home. The kimchi with the oval label is GREAT. It's the only one I will buy bc it's one of the only ones that does not use MSG. Also, it's always on the fresh side, so you can eat it more fresh or leave it to be more fermented. I've bought numerous kinds of this kimchi - cabbage, radish, oyster, etc - and I've never been disappointed. Stacks of empty kimchi jars in my kitchen a testament to this.

                    1. re: sparkyk

                      So I bought some of the kimchi with the oval label at the Galleria Supermarket on Saturday. The brand name is: Kae Sung (개성).

                      They actually have their own store at 102 S Oxford Ave:


                      Here's a photo of some of their kimchis:

                      1. re: Peripatetic

                        BTW Kae Sung was mentioned in this earlier thread about kimchi:


                        The poster referenced this 1993 (!) LA Times article about them:


                        1. re: Peripatetic

                          The link for Kae Sung has changed:

                          Also, the correct address is:

                          1010 S St Andrews Pl
                          Los Angeles, CA 90019

                          I've been to the store a few times since I posted this, and all of the kimchis I've tried were great. Note that many of their kimchis are available only in 1/2 gallon jars, which is a bit of a commitment.

                          1. re: Peripatetic

                            since '93 Kae Sung has sold enough buckets of kimchi (I find the "regular" better than the katutgi - <sp>) to purchase the apartment compex at 1014 S. St. Andrew Pl (and an S-class, but that's just the car guy in me talking).

                            Linda Burum (LAT's writer) still speaks fondly of the Kae Sung owner.

                            Immigrant entrepreneurship in this country is so inspiring sometimes

                      2. re: Peripatetic

                        doosooni is definitely the best store bought kimchi I've had. My mom will not make kimchi chigae out of this kimchi. But it's all the way in GG. Even koreans just from korea complimented this kimchi

                        1. re: peppermonkey

                          Can you be kind enough to give an address for 'doosooni'? I cannot seem to locate it. Thanks.

                          1. re: curtiskan

                            Yelp has it listed as:

                            SEOUL TOSOONYI KIMCHI
                            9972 Garden Grove Blvd
                            Garden Grove, CA 92844

                            The HCA food inspection database has it listed as:

                            SEOUL DO SUN YI KIM-CHI

                            Their sign has it as:

                            SEOUL DO SOON YI KIMCHI CO

                            There's no accounting for taste or romanization.

                            1. re: Peripatetic

                              I'll give this one a big thumbs-up... it's a tiny place next to Anna's Mondu (since the Romanisation doesn't work so well here). Great kimchi -- and then go to Anna's and get frozen mandu to take home and cook.

                              Anna's Mondu
                              9972 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92844

                            2. re: curtiskan

                              If u time it right and let it ferment to the right time. There will be this bubbly goodness that finds itself in every crevice of leaf and give u this extra textural zing. So good!

                        2. the only other MSG-free brand i was ever able to find is King's Kimchi, and it was actually pretty good. i used to buy it at Whole Paycheck, but since i can no longer in good conscience support their business, i've now discovered that you can also get it at Ranch 99, Ralph's and a number of other stores listed on their website...


                          3 Replies
                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                            Hold on a sec ... when everyone is talking about MSG-free kimchi I presume people mean "no added MSG" right?

                            Because last I checked MSG is a natural byproduct of fermentation, or was I missing in class that day when Alton Brown discussed fermentation?

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              sorry, yes, no *added* MSG. thanks for pointing that out!

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Yes, Ipse, no _added_ MSG. I don't think MSG is evil, and I don't have any adverse reactions to it. But I think many manufacturers (not just kimchi manufacturers) add it to disguise an inferior recipe or inferior ingredients.

                            2. Beverly Soon Tofu Makes their own and sells it in jars for purchase at the restaurant. Second Han Kook and Galleria Markets in K-town. The prepared Galbi and other marinated meets for the grill are very good too..

                              Beverly Soon Tofu Restaurant
                              2717 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90006

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Foodandwine

                                If you want to try doosooni kim chi without driving all the way to Garden Grove store to get some, there's a store in Korea town that they deliver their Kim Chi to. Located on fourth st and Western, the store is called SK Food Mart. It's a small store in a strip mall so it's easy to miss so keep a good look out if you decide to go there. They get their Kim Chi deliveries I believe every Saturday so go then to get the fresh batch. If you head north on on Western towards Hollywood the store is on the left side of the street.

                                1. re: orangepeel85

                                  Thanks for the info! I will definitely try it next time I'm there.

                                2. re: Foodandwine

                                  "Beverly Soon Tofu Makes their own and sells it in jars"

                                  I was at Beverly Soon Tofu recently and asked to buy a jar. They said they don't sell kimchi in jars. Instead, they gave me a Styrofoam container with a generous helping of the house kimchi at no cost. I had hoped to get a good-sized jar, though.