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Best store bought kimchi available in Austin?

First of all, I fully realize that I could make my own, but at the end of the day I only have time to make x number of things, and kimchi's never managed to get enough priority.

So anyway, after my holiday binging, I've been eating a lot of probiotics – naturally kimchi came to mind. I bought some of the Restorative Foods brand from Whole Foods, and simply put: it's not kimchi. It's got a strong tartness, ginger and a decent spiciness, but absolutely no funk. I'd put it more in the category of Wildbrine's sauerkrauts that I've found at CM, of which the garlic/dill and madras curry/cauliflower are ridiculously good. I'll continue to enjoy it, but it's not filling the void.

What's your favorite brand of kimchi available in Austin stores? Organic and/or information about quality ingredients would be a plus, but I know that's often hard to tell when buying at an Asian market and the labeling is in Korean. Mainly concerned with flavor!

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  1. The kimchi sold at the korean market in the shopping center at justin and lamar has really good kimchi. I especially enjoy the cucumber kimchi.

    I doubt there is anything organic about it. I assume it is made with the produce they sell there.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ieathereforeiam

      Han Yang! Yep, I was imagining that'd probably be the best place in town to check.

      1. re: popvulture

        they have a pretty good variety and they move enough of it that it doesn't look like it's been sitting in the plastic forever.

        The produce there can be spotty, but the bulk stuff is usually ok.

        1. re: ieathereforeiam

          I really like Han Yang's kim chi, too (they sell more than one brand; it's their store brand that I've tried and liked).

      2. re: ieathereforeiam

        The kimchi at Han Yang is hit and miss. Sometimes the cucumber kimchi hasn't fully aged yet. But when it's sufficiently ripe, it's excellent. The spicy red cabbage kimchi (there is a milder, sweeter one) is kinda inconsistent as well.

        I have only been to Hana World Market once (too far north for me), but when they were at Airport and Lamar as "New Oriental Market" they had much more consistent cucumber and cabbage kimchis. So I would hope the same holds true for Hana World Market.

        -sw

        1. re: sqwertz

          was just at the hana world market last week, and they have little old korean ladies making all sorts of stuff for the refrigerated cases. banchan and kimchi galore. most of it had soy sauce in it so i couldn't try any, but it looked fantastic.

      3. The Korean World Market on Parmer just east of Metric has a really good store brand of not only cabbage kimchee but cucumber kimchee as well.

        1. The Hana World Market on Parmer just east of Metric has a really good store brand of not only cabbage kimchee but cucumber kimchee as well.

          1. I just ate a bag of Trader Joes branded kimchi from Korea. It's pretty good - a solid "very acceptable". And it's probably very consistent. Best of all it's only $2 for an 11oz bag and keeps for 3+ months. Buy several and keep them handy. Going rate is $4/16oz jar of other brands (but I usually buy the 32 or 64oz jars). I made beef kimchi fried rice, bulgogi chunks, and prosciutto wrapped shrimp brushed with bulgogi sauce (with extra kimchi on the side ;-)

             
             
            4 Replies
            1. re: sqwertz

              wholeheartedly agree-- this is some tasty stuff. it had a fair amount of scallions iirc, plus a good leaf-to-rib ratio, which i appreciate for the texture.

              when i made a trip shortly after they opened, i bought several bags and scarfed them up. although the packages are small, i like the flat design (and reasealable bag) for fridge storage.

              when i went back a few weeks later, they were out, so i didn't get my fix. glad to hear it's something they do stock, because i'm gonna get some during my next trip.

              1. re: dinaofdoom

                I didn't notice the bag being resealable. And I used that as an excuse to eat the whole bag in one sitting :-) The rib to leaf ratio is important to me as well. I like the crunchy ribs best, but the leaves hold a lot of luscious brine. I used the ribs for the kimchi fried rice (above), and the leaves I plated.

                -sw

                1. re: sqwertz

                  in defense of eating it all in one sitting, it's a small bag... :-)

                  1. re: dinaofdoom

                    I've finished a half gallon jar of cucumber kimchi from Han Yang in 36 hours with no ill effects. So a piddly little 10.6oz bag of ripe cabbage is a cakewalk for me :-)

            2. Second the shout out to the Wildbrine madras cauliflower. Expensive, but so good.

              1. I would recommend a trip to Mom's Taste on Airport. It's a tiny little shop in a strip mall run by the Lee family.

                They produce a large assortment of banchan in house (including a great house made kimchi) and portion it out into little plastic tubs or even ziplock bags. You might have to be bold and purchase based on looks alone as the package and the staff may or may not provide a description in English.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Alan Sudo

                  haven't heard about this place in a while. how's the rest of the food?

                  1. re: ieathereforeiam

                    I really enjoy the food. I get the marinated meats to cook at home (the bulgogi and the varieties of squid have been very good) and the ziplock bags of house made kimchi dumplings.

                    1. re: Alan Sudo

                      do they do onsite dining as well or is it all to go?

                      1. re: ieathereforeiam

                        There is no dining onsite - it's to go only with many items also being sold raw for home cooking.

                  2. re: Alan Sudo

                    I've only been there once and bought some severely under fermented and bitter cucumber kimchi. I have never been inclined to go back.

                    -sw

                  3. Has anyone tried the Oh Kimchi available at some farmer's markets in town (as well as Wheatsville, Whip In, etc.)? It looks like they make mustard greens kimchi, which is probably my favorite type. But I wonder if the flavor is authentic, or tailored more to, ahem, Austin tastebuds.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Joe MacBu

                      There's an article in the latest Edible Austin (the "wellness issue") about them. I haven't tried it, but the article says the owner uses her grandma's recipe.

                      1. re: kosheri

                        Appears they make several kinds (including the common Napa). Here's their fb page. I go to the markets pretty frequently - will have to keep an eye out.

                        https://www.facebook.com/OhKimchiAustin

                    2. Following up, I picked up jars of both napa cabbage and mustard greens varieties from Oh Kimchi at the downtown farmers' market.

                      It's excellent product (the mustard greens variety being slightly spicier), made from mostly organic ingredients – a rarity among more authentic kimchis in town.

                      Definitely worth it. Give em a try.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: popvulture

                        I should probably elaborate a little bit. So far, I've only had a chance to spend time with the Napa variety. It's very comparable to most of the "classic" Kimchis I've had in the past. Good texture to the cabbage, excellent heat that starts out slow and develops into a fairly roaring burn, and a good bit of fish sauce to add to the funk. It's pretty much everything I was looking for.

                        1. re: popvulture

                          according to their facebook page, they also sell it at the cedar park farmer's market. yay! i am gonna pick some up the next time i'm over there.

                        2. re: popvulture

                          Today I read an article in the most recent edition of Edible Austin. Hadn't heard of them until now.
                          http://www.edibleaustin.com/index.php...

                          -sw

                          1. re: sqwertz

                            saw some at the 183 location of people's pharmacy yesterday but will pick some up at the farmer's market instead, as i'd like to see what else they have.