One of my favorite memories of going to the Philippines was going to the food courts they have in shopping centers. These aren't like American food courts with McDonald's and Sbarro. These are similar to ones you find throughout Asia where individual vendors have small stands selling their specialty. There's a grandma over here making rice cakes and over there is an auntie who has special skewers. The next stall over is a girl making halo halo or selling pastries. Each one is independent and as close to homemade as you can get in a shopping center.
When I read last week in the Bee that Allen Pierleoni had gone to Koreana Plaza for the International food court, I had to check it out too. I really hoped it might be similar to the kind I remembered. It wasn't, but it was still pretty good.
To find Koreana Plaza you need to get off at Zinfandel and onto Olson Drive. If you are familiar with the Target at Zinfandel, then KP is behind the Target. The next thing to note is the size of the place. This picture above, it's only a third of it. Basically it takes up the space that three supermarkets or large stores would occupy!
Ready made sushi above, sushi grade slabs of tuna and hamachi below.
Need rice? You'll find every possible variety here in BIG bags.
The idea of Koreana Plaza is to have all ethnicities located in one space. You can find Korean, Russian, Persian, Mexican, Greek, Chinese, French, Iranian, Indian, etc. If you have a hard time finding an ethnic ingredient for a recipe, you'll probably find it here. Better yet, if you are a worldly person who cooks worldly food, then this is a one-stop shopping experience.
The first section of the store supposedly has all the Asian products. It also has the produce section, frozen foods, and dairy aisles. I honestly came across an entire aisle of Hawaiian only products.
There's plenty of gallon sized containers of kimchi to choose from.
In the second half of the shopping area you'll find the seafood area, a tortilla making section, and all the products supposedly for the Americas and Europe. Near the catfish above was a tank of lobsters and another with big bullfrogs.
This second side is also where there are a bunch of hawkers screaming out "Samples". Honestly, they have to be hoarse at the end of the day.
The food court, which is the panoramic picture at the top, starts with a bakery area with everything from Afghani naan and Persian sweets to Russian pastries and French eclairs. Like the Persian stand in this picture, there are stands for Russian and Indian, etc.
Then you get to the food court. Although not filled with the individual grannies and aunties liked I had hoped, it still covered the global gamut of what you might want to eat. Down the line there was Mexican, Persian, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, etc. I think they were missing Indian, but that probably will be along soon. After all, the food court just opened.
I ordered Szechuan Spicy Seafood Noodles and was given a buzzer while it was put together for me. The menu signs actually give warnings of "10 min wait" or "20 min wait". There are even a few tables in the seating area that had the center heating elements reserved for hot pot dining. When my buzzer rang and I gathered my food, I was happy to find it well supplied with chopped up octopus, small sea scallops, shrimp, and more.
If you are into international cuisine and cooking it, this is your dream supermarket. And after all the time it will take you to go through the miles of aisles, you'll be hungry for a bite to eat too.