Santa Barbara has many hidden gems that the average local may not know about. One of those hidden gems can be found in the shopping center on the corner of Hollister and Patterson called Choi’s Oriental Market, next to South Coast Deli. They sell authentic Korean and other Asian snacks and meals.
“I was so happy to find a place like this in Santa Barbara,” said senior Yuka Perera “The only other stores I know that sell authentic, homemade Korean food are in LA.”
Asian culture, in particular Korean culture, has been taking the United States by storm. The growing popularity of the Korean culture in fashion, Korean BBQ, Kdrama and K-pop, specifically the impressive rise of group BTS, are all surprising and intriguing Americans. The spread of these elements are a part of the Hallyu wave of Korean culture. As so many Americans are scrambling to experience any kind of Korean culture, Choi’s market, which is full of Korean foods and authentic homemade dishes is guaranteed to leave a good impression.
Choi’s market is a great destination for shopping and delicious food. Half of the market is dedicated to various delicious Korean and Asian snacks and drinks.
“I am happy to find this hidden gem that serves homemade Korean food,” said local Santa Barbara resident, Lily Yang. “It is a small market that sells Korean and other Asian snacks and essential ingredients for Asian recipes.”
The market also sells many different types of Asian snacks, candies and ingredients. As ramen is an essential staple in the Korean diet, Choi’s has an impressive assortment of ramen. Also, a popular Asian snack that is a must buy are roasted hazelnuts. Although roasted hazelnuts may seem like an unfamiliar texture at first to Americans, after tasting the nuts there is no way you can deny their deliciousness. An excellent drink to try when eating at the market is banana milk, a specialty in Korea. This is one of my personal favorites at the market. It is a yummy alternative to the cows milk we drink on a daily basis.
The other half of Choi’s market is dedicated to making and serving homemade Korean food. To Bibimbap, Bulgogi, delicious soups, and noodles, Choi’s market has a great representation of the flavors and foods of Korea.
“Essentially, if you are craving Korean food that’s not Korean BBQ, you’ll find it here,” said local Santa Barbara resident, Donna Aragon. “I would put Choi’s right up there with the K-Town spots you would find in LA.”
One of the most popular dishes in Korea is Bibimbap. With its unique Korean flavors and the many toppings it comes with, Bibimbap is always a favorite among Koreans and Americans. As the national food of Korea, Kimchi is a must try for visitors. Kimchi is fermented cabbage and vegetables that have a sour tang with a spicy kick to it. The dish is often given as a side to the main courses or as a topping.
Choi’s Oriental Market is a restaurant that is not very well known but offers great Korean cuisine and Asian snacks. Make sure to stop by Choi’s Oriental market on the corner of Patterson and Hollister to experience a taste of Korea.