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.
14551 Red Hill Ave
Tustin, CA 92780