The "Polish-Korean Store"

Though I usually post pretty frequently, I realized if I'm going to keep posting every day, as the VeganMoFo challenge requires me to do, I need to show you more than lunch and snacks, and I haven't been eating at that many restaurants so there is nowhere to review right now. Thus, for the last day of this breakneck posting schedule (I am so proud I did manage to post every day this September, which is surely worth a brownie point or two), I want to show you one of my favorite places to shop--I call it the "Polish-Korean Store," though that isn't its name.

I don't know if you have a hole-in-the-wall produce market near you, but this place, about a mile from me, has been a life saver more than once. If you do have such a place, go inside and find out what it's like! When I'm disciplined and willing to make the extra trip there before I go to the regular supermarket to finish up, my grocery hauls are super cheap. If I can't bear the thought of navigating a full sized supermarket, sometimes I just go to the produce place. It can't be my only store, though one could live off what they sell for quite a while, because there is more than just produce there. It's the size of the produce section in most supermarkets, with a few other things that line the walls.

Many people say it's expensive to be vegan, but it isn't always. Everything you see here is about a third of the price it would be at my local supermarket. (I live in an area with a very high cost of living.) I do not claim that it is always easy and cheap to be vegan in the United States--I think that ignores the realities of many people's lives, and, among other things, means turning down free food when you may not be able to afford it--but sometimes, as an experienced vegan, I can find ways to eat cheaply. Becoming vegan, in my estimation, is far more expensive than staying vegan, for many reasons. Fortunately my income is such now that I can afford the times when veganism is more expensive for me. And, also fortunately, sometimes it isn't that expensive, and this store is one reason why!
99 cents for strawberries? 99 cents for three heads of romaine? Am I dreaming? Is this 1985?
They sell cut veggies here sometimes, too. Usually, I think this is produce that other stores have rejected due to appearance or excess stock, and cutting it up makes it look more appealing to the shoppers.
Sometimes I buy these Polish juice drinks. They're not all that cheap--a dollar each for these little bottles--but they're not terribly expensive, either. The one on the right is fortified with lots of vitamins, and that's usually what I get, as well as a green one they didn't have this time. They don't really sell juice that isn't Polish here. My neighborhood, so the internet told me before I moved in, has one of the highest concentrations of Polish immigrants in the United States. The owners of this store are Korean, but they know their market. So they have Polish things--a lot of Polish things--and some Korean things--alongside the produce. A lot of what I get here I can't get at other places. When I couldn't find miso anywhere, they had it.
They also sell a lot of different kinds of snacks, not all Polish, like these American green pea crisps. What they have at any given time is completely unpredictable, though.
They have tons of this Croatian vegetable seasoning (Vegeta). I have no idea how to use it but I'd love tips if anyone does. Maybe it's like Mrs. Dash? Their website says, essentially, to put it on everything and "experience taste magic." Maybe I'll buy one of the small jars sometime and see how it goes. But they sell this in pretty gigantic bags, too--are people putting this in their food by the cup or something? The bags on the upper right weigh in at close to 5 pounds!

They also have a lot of other kinds of Polish seasonings (this is part of an entire big section of Polish seasonings and soup mixes). I don't yet know what I would do with them. These all appear to be some sort of seasoned salt and/or pepper grinders.

These grains and beans (again, Polish) are one of the reasons one could live for a long time from the stuff in this store. There are also oils and vinegars and whatnot. But they do tend to cost more, unlike most other things here, than their counterparts at other markets. I usually don't buy the non-perishables here unless I can't get to my regular grocery store.
This pine syrup is also intriguing. I'm not yet brave enough to try it. Some say it's a good cough syrup and might make an interesting thing to mix with some seltzer. I mean, I do like pine nuts, so...?
Poland produces many different kinds of mustard. I find this section of the store as overwhelming as the spice section. I don't know what any of this is like and as much as I might want to find out I'm paralyzed by indecision.
There is apparently no such thing as just plain ketchup in Poland, either. From what I can tell, these are all varying degrees of spicy. This is another thing I've never tried.
This time around, there were a lot more Mexican imports than the usual Asian ones. All of this costs more than at the supermarket, though.
But there were still a lot of Asian noodles, including these Korean veggie noodles. I may need to get some of these soon. Purple potato noodles sound like fun. I thought they might be glass noodles, but it looks like they're plain wheat noodles with added veggies for color. You know we bento bloggers are a sucker for colorful things.
Did you know Nestle made corn flakes? I sometimes buy cereal here. The granola (the Sante Crunchy Classic) is inexpensive compared to the cost of vegan cereal at the supermarket (usually the cereals run about $2.50 here). None of the cereals in this store come in boxes. I'm not sure why--space?--but they're also all imported. It has me wondering if Poland has cereal boxes.
I sometimes go through the cookies to find out which ones are vegan. A surprisingly large number of them are. These Croatian wafer cookies, as well as a few of the Polish ones, are. Gingerbread is usually also promising.

This week's haul was as follows:
  • A small flat of okra (about 1/2 pound)--$1.00
  • 1 pint of strawberries--$0.99
  • 1.5 pounds of mini sweet peppers--$1.49
  • A bag of six medium size tomatoes on the vine--$1.00
  • 1 bunch asparagus--$1.49
  • 1 bunch celery--$1.49
  • 8 oz. white mushrooms--$1.49
  • 1 box of spiced raspberry tea--$1.49
Total: $10.44

Surprisingly, nobody really batted an eye at me taking all these pictures. I guess the internet has made everyone a journalist or something. So I should have shown you all these things ages ago! 

I'm going to try to go here more often, when I can; it definitely makes a difference in the affordability of my food, plus I like to support a local business--ironic that I say that, given how much imported food there is here. But that's also true of a lot of what one can find at the regular grocery store, if you look closely.


  1. This store sounds awesome, and that's a good haul for just over $10! I'd love to try the different Polish items, and that's hilarious about all the ketchups being spicy! The Korean veggie noodles look really fun, too! Nice job posting every day this month for Vegan MoFo; I really enjoyed your posts!

  2. Congrats on posting every single day for MoFo! You did such a great job, I've been really enjoying seeing what you come up with for your adorable bentos and I really enjoyed your reviews as well.

    That store looks amazing! The prices are so low! $.99 for strawberries is pretty much unheard of. The juices sound really yummy and the different pretty veggie noodles sound fun! That's definitely a great haul for $10, this place is definitely a gem.

  3. This place sounds amazing. I love finding shops like this, where they have such a great mix of things and often things you may not find elsewhere.

    I have used Vegeta before. You can use it as a stock powder, or just sprinkle it on like a seasoning salt. Though what you would do with such a large bag is beyond me!

    Congratulations of a successful MoFo. :)

  4. What an awesome shop to have nearby! Those produce prices are crazy amazing...
    too funny I actually have two jars of those mustards in my fridge now! Haha! I bought them at an eastern european grocery in brighton beach- one i got has a great dill flavor, and the other is a very intense dijon style. The korean noodle assortment is so fun- if you see the sweet potato noodles those are delicious with just a little soy sauce and butter


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