Gaju Mah-ket (“California Market”) is not as spacious or comprehensive as HK Super a few blocks north. They carry Korean as well as a selection of Japanese, American, Thai and Hispanic products. In addition to food, they also carry kitchen products and notebooks, though at a high markup.
There’s a mit-banchan (Korean side dishes) section that you might miss in the back behind the produce. This is where you’ll find organic bean sprouts and an ajumma (married woman) freshly preparing Korean dishes. Fish, crabs and pre-marinated meats are also in the back.
What you canNOT buy at California Market: single-serving pouches of kimchi (they have kimchi only in huge packages and gigantic jars).
Products whose prices I checked in March 2009
Starbucks Coffee Dark Chocolate Mocha, bottle
$2.09 + 0.05 crv
|Starbucks Doubleshot Cinnamon Dulce, can||$2.49 + 0.05 crv|
|Chino Valley Organic Eggs, 6-Pack||$4.29|
|Dole baby bananas from Ecuador, one hand||$1.39|
|Monster Energy Drink||$2.49|
|Horizon Organic Milk||$4.49|
|bean sprouts, 12 ounces||$0.59|
|various Maeil soy milk drinks in tetra pak||$0.89|
|Pokka oolong tea, 300-mL can||$1.09 + 0.05 crv|
|yellow peaches (not good)||$1.49/lb|
|white nectarines (not good)||$1.49/lb|
The produce is okay most of the time, although the 참외 (Korean melons) they had once were not. You can buy freshly made Korean food like soups, broths and dumplings, and even sit down to eat them there although the space is cramped.
In front, with a separate cash register, there’s a small section of native Korean delicacies and kimbap with a nice lady who patiently answers my questions although I don’t buy anything. Next to her is a section of Western pastries from Bosco Cake Salon — castella, mocha bread… The ladies here are very courteous as well.
Three stars out of five for California Market. Neighborhood: Koreatown
450 S Western Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90020
Update (September 2009): This supermarket just got a B rating from the Health Department.
I only go here now for 50-cent bars of Carlos V chocolate from Mexico.