Thursday, June 14, 2007

Freshia Market - Tustin

Behold, the Freshia Market banchan selection: acres upon acres of ready-to-eat Korean side dishes, priced by weight and pre-packed for convenience. It's faster than fast-food; healthier and tastier too.

Kimchi is, of course, a main staple, as are cubed radish steeped in scorching kochujang (Korean chili paste). But that's not all. In this cool case, you'll find a veritable smorgasbord of vegetarian-friendly eats of every color and crunch, intended to accompany some sort of protein, preferably Korean bulgogi or kalbi. But you can serve it as is, with plenty of rice, and be satisfied that you spared an animal its life.

I plucked a few beauties for a recent dinner in front of the boob tube. A tub of crisp baby bok choy ($2.07) sauteed with scallions, garlic, and peppers was refreshingly simple, and not unlike the kind I can stir fry myself. Soy-stewed eggplant and carrots ($1.78) seethed with a tangy, vinegary nuttiness bold enough to be called a pickle.

For protein I also bought some fried tofu ($2.80), cut into steaks and soaked in a spicy/sweet marinade. However, this wasn't enough for the carnivore in me, who demands some bloodlust with dinner. But today wasn't a day I wanted to grill up the pre-marinated selection of butchered meats myself. No, today, my prey would already have to be pre-cooked.

So I gravitated to the prepared hot foods corner, which pulsed with glowing red heat lamps. Here I found deep-fried chicken wings, grilled fish, and others delectables. I settled for a happy assortment of butterflied pieces of fried mackerel ($6.29) that were great crisped up in my toaster oven. I relished the way the supple white flesh and salty skin balanced each other in yin-yang fashion.

Previously, when Freshia was known as HK Market, this protein-rich counter did not exist. But now, redubbed with that oh-so-cute moniker, the owners upped the ante on its ready-made food offerings. The rest of the store remains unchanged.

Regardless, Freshia, HK Market, or by any other name, the banchan tastes just as sweet.

Freshia Market
(714) 731-6801
14551 Red Hill Ave
Tustin, CA 92780

20 Comments:

At 12:39 AM, Blogger Dancing Munchkin said...

Elmo,

How do you find all these great places? Can you hear the cry of great food places being born or does a little bird tell you?

Another wonderful post with yummy pictures that make me so hungry, I want to throw the "don't eat within 3 hours of going to sleep" rule out the window and then run outside and stomp on it.

Thank you so much for all your wonderful posts, I wish I could try them all, but alas.. 3 weeks fly will fly by quickly, and I can't afford to eat out every single day.

 
At 12:52 AM, Blogger Christine D. said...

I am so ignorant when it comes to Korean food that whenever I walk by the deli cases in these markets, I have no clue what I'm looking at. Some stuff looks good but I'm always afraid that there's something funky in there, so I've never bought any of them.

After your post, I feel a little more comfortable. Next time I go to Freshia, I won't just go there for pocky, nori, or nong shim stuff, haha. Hey, I think I'll do some korean bbq for one of my graduation parties! Zot!

 
At 1:14 AM, Blogger Pop Tart said...

I totally drove by Freshia the other day and pondered stopping by to check it out. I had no idea it was Korean! I figured it would have been Japanese since it was in that area.

Thanks for the heads up!

 
At 11:56 AM, Blogger Wandering Chopsticks said...

I loooove panchan. I can make a meal of that alone. Although the grilled meats are good too. :P

Hmm. This gives me ideas on posting about a little Korean store near my aunt's nail salon...

 
At 1:51 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

thanks elmo, looks like I have new foods to try; I always get the spicy cucumbers they have, and the tofu is delicious and addicting. I have a question and sorry if you've answered it already, what kind of camera do you use for pictures? I really want to know the megapixels needed to take such high quality pictures, thanks.

 
At 6:16 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Dancing Munchkin,

How do I find these places? Well, Freshia, in particular, I've been going to for years since I drive by it on my way home. As far as other places, I have a network of spies that work for me. ;-) No really, I just read other blogs, newspapers, and food bulletin boards.

Christine,

ZOT! Congrats fellow anteater! Actually most of the time, the stuff I see at Freshia, I have no idea how it tastes until I taste it. But I can count on them on tasting good, and having lots of sesame oil in them. Koreans like sesame oil.

Pop Tart,

Yup, it's Korean. But they have sushi (which has been adopted by Koreans) and other Japanese items too.

Wandering Chopsticks,

Panchan + Rice + Fried Egg = Bibimbap

Kevin,

I use a Canon SD450 - a standard, run-of-the-mill 5 Mega Pixel camera. It has great features, but lacks a battery meter which really blows.

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger Rasa Malaysia said...

Even though this store is not far from my house, but I never go there. I went there once when it was HK market, but somehow I would still go back to 99 Ranch.

 
At 7:27 PM, Blogger Deb said...

Great post! I love stopping in these kinds of markets for lunch...you're right, fast food that's not 'fast food'. Can't wait to check it out!

 
At 10:38 AM, Blogger KirkK said...

mmmm panchan! Sometimes the varieties in these Korean Markets can be staggering!

 
At 5:16 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Rasa Malaysia,

99 Ranch still beats it for fresh seafood and general pricing. But admittedly, I like how clean Freshia is. Really odd for an Asian market to be that clean. The produce there seems to be very good quality too.

Deb,

It's the closest Korean market to Irvine. There's a food court next to it, serving all kinds of Korean grub. I've tried some of it and it's pretty decent too. Nothin' beats the panchan for a quick dinner though.

Kirk,

You got that right. It's a dizzying array. Sometimes, I just go by price in choosing. Then it gets easier.

 
At 9:59 PM, Blogger nhbilly said...

Nice find, to bad I don't work around there anymore :-(. So sad I can't stop by Clario's for some Italian slice meat sandwich. :-(

 
At 8:34 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

nhbilly,

Claro's, Freshia, and so many other make Tustin one of my favorite food towns.

 
At 2:34 PM, Blogger Passionate Eater said...

Elmo, just because I haven't been commenting doesn't mean that I haven't been reading every post voraciously. I just want to say thanks for taking the time to post, I get the sense that you have been busy lately. I hope that you take the time to enjoy your summer, and your meals!!

 
At 9:56 AM, Blogger elmomonster said...

PE,

Thanks for dropping a note, and more importantly for reading. You're right. I have been busy. Too busy actually. But I use these posts as a sort of release, so it's still fun for me (so far).

 
At 6:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh boy, kimchi! Reminds me of my Army days in South Korea. The smell made me want to throw up.

 
At 12:00 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

Elmo,

If you want banchans for a good deal, go to Freshia after 7:30pm. They put 50% off selected appetizers. It's a great deal. You can get a large size of bean sprouts for $2 and it's enough to last 4 days. Also, you should try their Kim Bab made on the spot. The next best place would be AR Market in Garden Grove, but it's the best thing we got in Irvine.

 
At 10:24 AM, Blogger jeannie said...

Cool, another place to get banchan! I always go to the Galleria b/c it's closer. It's hard to find really decent Korean food outside of k-town, although I'm sure there are hidden gems throughout so-cal.

 
At 10:54 PM, Blogger elmomonster said...

Anon,

You've got kimchi PTSD!

Andrew,

Great tip! Always good to know when there's a bargain.

jeannie,

I think there are Freshia's all around the southland now...it's kind of a chain. But yeah, k-town must have a lot of these type of places.

 
At 5:22 PM, Blogger momopi said...

This market has an OK hot food section next to the bakery, where you can get some cooked dishes. If you wait until 7pm+ they stick a 50% off sticker on the items under the heat lamp. The fried chicken drumsticks are not as good tasting as the one I had at another Korean place in Northridge, but at 50% off it makes cheap greasy dinner.

The prices at this market is also a bit high, some items like ready made soup packets are $4-5 each, versus Zion Market in Hawaiian Gardens (on Lincoln blvd) is $2.50.

 
At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I noticed when you buy the uncooked marinade beef short ribs. They give you the crappy beef short ribs from the back of the container bin. However, you should ask them to get you the beef short ribs from the front of the container.

 

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