Snapshots from South Korea: Convenience Stores Galore
Last month I visited Seoul, South Korea, for the first time. Here's a look at something I ate from my one-week trip. For more, check out the rest of my Snapshots from South Korea.
If I had planned my trip to Seoul better I would've tried to document as prolific themes in food-related signage as I could—some major ones being chicken and hof restaurants, and anything advertising waffles (a huge trend at the moment). But the only one I planned to capture from the beginning was the many different convenience stores throughout the city.
What's fascinating about convenience stores? Probably not much if you grow up around them, but for those of us who haven't (such as my Northern New Jersey-bred self*) there's something mildly exciting about being surrounded by all those clean, brightly lit hubs of...convenience. (The bodegas in my current home of New York City play a similar role to the convenience stores in major Asian cities, but it's not quite the same.) And, just as it's fun to browse through a supermarket in a foreign country, it's fun to look at unfamiliar food products in a convenience store.
Here's a gallery of some convenience stores I came across in Seoul and a look at some of their offerings.
Although 7-11 is the largest convenience store chain in the world, it wasn't until I left South Korea that I realized I had completely forgot to take a photo of one, probably because I'm used to seeing it in the U.S. I commonly saw them in subway stations.
Best All. I sense quality behind those doors.
Buy the Way was my favorite convenience store name. Hooray for puns!
Family Mart, a Japanese chain.
Mini Stop, another Japanese chain.
IGA Mart. Can't say this makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.
GS 25. You can't resist: it out-friendly, fresh, and funs the other convenience stores.
A few foodstuffs inside GS 25:
A wall of dried fish snacks.
A wall of non-fish snacks.
Drinks for the morning after a tough night boozing it up. I'm a fan of the name "Morning Care."
And for the sober people, there are also regular drinks. The top row is mostly taken up by banana milk, a popular Korean drink of sweetened, banana-flavored (akin to banana-flavored Runts) milk.
My favorite and most unexpected part was the shelf of meat on sticks and other sorts of single-serving meat products. Vacuum-sealed drumstick, anyone?
You too can be as happy as Dan; just buy lots of stick meats! (Alas, we didn't actually buy any of these.)
* During two of my childhood years I also lived in Taiwan, which has the highest density of convenience stores per person, but it wasn't a long enough period for the novelty of, "Oh man, I live near like five c-stores, sweet!" to wear off.