Where can I buy a jar of kimchi in central London?
March 20, 2011 2:31 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to get some ready-made kimchi in a jar to enjoy at home but haven't been able to find a source - where can I buy a jar of kimchi in (central) London?

My brother-in-law recently introduced me to the wonders of good kimchi, leaving me craving more. The problem is his source is in the US and I'm based in central London.

I've tried Googling, and I had a look in Chinatown (specifically the Nippon & Korea Centre and the Asian Supermarket on Gerrard St) but the best I could find was very expensive packs of frozen kimchi. Shouldn't I be able to find it at a decent price in a jar, like sauerkraut?

If necessary I can head out to one of the big superstores like Wing Yip, but I'm hoping there's a secret central source someone can put me onto!
posted by ChristopherS to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Just up the road at Centre Point Food Store?
posted by holgate at 2:42 PM on March 20, 2011

Oriental Delight in Chinatown. Has it in jars.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:49 PM on March 20, 2011

Best answer: Tip: Look in the refrigerated foods section of the Korean grocery store. Sometimes instead of using jars, they package kimchi in plastic bags or clamshells containers.
posted by brina at 2:50 PM on March 20, 2011

Yeah, I don't know anything about London's Korean or other East Asian shops, but ALL of the kimchi at the Korean stores here in California is refrigerated (in bags, jars, tubs, and rectangular plastic things with lids.). NONE of it is in jars on shelves like sauerkraut.
posted by wintersweet at 2:55 PM on March 20, 2011

Best answer: When I lived in London last year I stopped at Seoul Mate near the British Museum a couple times. They will have Kimchi.

Yes it should be in a jar. . frozen (yeachh!)
posted by patrad at 3:27 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ah sorry I see that linked to my search for the museum. Here is a better one. .
posted by patrad at 3:29 PM on March 20, 2011

You might already know this, but if you're ever in SW London, the highest concentration of Koreans in Europe is in New Malden. I would be astonished to hear that there's any better place to buy 김치 within a couple of thousand miles.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 4:00 PM on March 20, 2011

Depends where you are based, but as for central London, the place is teeming with kimuchi. Have you tried the Japan Store just off Piccadilly? They will deliver to your door.

Go and take a trip to Taro restaurant (on Brewer or Old Compton streets). The guy who owns the place (Mr. Taro) is a lovely Japanese guy from Kumamoto. He'll happily advise you on your food buying needs. In fact, just across the road from the Brewer street Taro there's a wonderful little Japanese food store. They have tubs and bags of kimuchi in stock most of the time.

I live in East London. There's a tiny Chinese food store just across the road and a little north of Dalston Kingsland station. They usually have kimuchi.

If you get really stuck, come round my house. I've got some in my fridge.
posted by 0bvious at 4:22 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Came in here to say what brina and wintersweet said. Look in the refrigerated section, where they usually have homemade kimchi in clear plastic containers (like takeaway containers) and the branded stuff in foil bags. New Malden is where you want to go for a good selection of shops.
posted by Cuppatea at 1:46 AM on March 21, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you for all the helpful suggestions!

I'm based in North London, so will check out Seoul Mate, the Japan Centre and Oriental Delight first. Sounds like with this guidance I shouldn't have any trouble getting some supplies.

Thanks for the refrigeration tip too. I guess a jar needs to go in the fridge once opened so I shouldn't have any preference for jar over fridge-pack. Will bear that in mind.

Since I seem to have found some kimchi afficionados here, any advice on brands/types to go for? Without being able to speak or read Korean I'm not expecting to be able to learn much from the packaging... While staying with my brother-in-law I learned that I prefer stronger tasting (longer-aged?) kimchi. Any tips welcome!

Thanks again - I'll report back on shopping success.
posted by ChristopherS at 2:06 AM on March 21, 2011

Note that there is currently a world-wide kim chi shortage--shops that might have had it in the past might not, now.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:46 AM on March 21, 2011

there is currently a world-wide kim chi shortage

Since the hundreds of headlines in October, there hasn't been any new reporting of this and it's referred to by some as the Kimchi shortage of 2010.

To answer your follow-up questions, Christopher, I don't know much about buying kimchi outside Korea. If you prefer the stonger-tasting stuff, obvious' advice will probably lead to disappointing results. I've never tasted it myself, but I understand that kimuchi, the Japanese version of kimchi, is usually weaker and sweeter than the Korean original. Note also that asking for 'kimuchi' in a Korean shop or restaurant is a fairly good way to generate antipathy!

If you were in Korea, I would suggest you buy whatever has the most shelf space, since strong kimchi is the most popular there. I don't know if that holds in the UK, but suspect it might. If you can find anywhere that sells it from open containers (a shop aimed at ex-pat Koreans, perhaps), you might be able to get small samples of several different kinds to compare on the spot. Koreans are usually very happy to see foreigners with a genuine liking for the stuff.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 7:11 AM on March 21, 2011

For north London, there's Seoul Plaza on Golders Green Road.
posted by holgate at 11:09 AM on March 21, 2011

Response by poster: Quick update: I swung by Seoul Mate today, it's a great little grocery store with a fridge full mostly of kimchi, it seems! They had three sizes of jar, various small packets and a few home-made options. I grabbed a medium size jar (£6/750g), and a small pack of their home-made stuff (~£2.30/300g). Pics:
Medium jar
Home-made kimchi

Tried both of them this evening. The home-made was stronger/spicier tasting than the jar and is definitely more to my taste - but both were great!

Still planning to check out the Japan Centre and Oriental Delight, but I'm delighted to at least have one source of spicy fermented cabbage goodness. Thanks!
posted by ChristopherS at 2:44 PM on March 25, 2011

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