[Bay Area] Good kimchee?

I was talking to my wife and the topic of kimchee came up. One of her coworkers, a Korean, a real picky eater, has a mother-in-law who ferments her own kimchee at home in a fridge that is only used for the fermentation and nothing else, set at a specific temperature most optimal for kimchee making. Their comment is that kimchee around the Bay Area isn’t very good, ‘roughly’ made and has MSG. His MIL’s kimchee is almost sweet, he said.

I haven’t been to Korea and obviously haven’t tasted the good stuff in the motherland. My general impression of kimchee around here is that they are like the kimchee equivalent of cheap cheese. Just not very nuanced. But, I haven’t eaten at enough Korean places to know if there are good kimchee somewhere in the Bay Area. And I haven’t tried store-bought stuff.

Where have you encountered good kimchee around here?

Have you tried First Korean Market at 4625 Geary Blvd? Kimchee made in house. As good as it gets. (I’ve not been there for a couple years. No reason to believe it’s going down hill.)

I am not a kimchee expert by any means but I love it. I have tried all the local store bought brands. My favorite is Sinto Gourmet Spicy Radish Kimchi. There is allays some in my fridge and I eat it practically every day for lunch with Straus Greek yogurt.


Kimchee and yoghurt? If your name was Georgia, I’d ask if you were pregnant.

I think one reason supermarkets avoid the good stuff is that it doesn’t have much of a shelf life due to its aggressive fermentation. I recall buying some kimchee from To Hyang and it had very few days before going over the edge.

Kimchee and yogurt sounds weird I know but it’s delicious! The Strauss Greek yogurt is divine. When you combine them, the spiciness and crunch of the Radish Kimchee pairs perfectly with the creaminess of the yogurt- Try it.

Regarding shelf life, the Sinto kimchee is very much alive when you buy it and often has an effervescent zing indicative of active fermentation. I usually finish it too quickly for it to go bad. For ages now I’ve been meaning to try making my own kimchee but have been too busy and distracted

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Still, I dunno. I’d be wary of creating nuclear fusion.

Assuming I haven’t eaten such a thing, how does a fermented enough kimchee taste like?

No- I am not even aware of such a market. I note it down to drop by next time I am in that neighborhood. Do they have a cooked food area where they sell this stuff?

Do you buy them from the website or are they carried elsewhere in the Bay Area?

I’m pretty sure they carry it in Rainbow’s bulk section, either that or something else from Sinto. I can’t recall if I’ve had the Sinto, but I like the Mother-In-Law kimchi there— there’s no shrimp in it, but it’s got a good complexity.

Koreana Plaza in Oakland (2370 Telegraph Ave) has a huge selection – and some they make in house IIRC.

I usually get Sinto at Berkeley Bowl but have seen at at 99 Ranch market in SF (but not Richmond) and Whole Foods in Napa. I like the Radish version better than the Cabbage version.

There is, alas, no 99 Ranch Market in San Francisco.

I meant the one in Daly city

Actually, I knew which one you meant, and sorry if I came off snarky. I was just expressing my chagrin that tbere is no transit-accessible 99 Ranch Market for San Franciscans (I haven’t owned an automobile since 1971).

Rhea’s Deli & Market sells home made kimchee as well

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I haven’t found any kimchee here that I like, though I haven’t tried every type. Can anyone confirm that they have a made in-house kimchee?

First Korean Market makes my favorite kimchi, so I’m not happy that I live so far from it now. I also like there other prepared panchan, and I think the prices are reasonable.

I have not found a good replacement for this shop in the East Bay…Koreana Plaza seems much worse to me.

I’m not a kimchi connoisseur, but I like the house made kimchi from Woori in the Fillmore, SF. They have chunks of sliced daikon in there along with the cabbage and other vegetables. Does kimchi really go bad? I’ve been working on the same jar for months.

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Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, Yuanyang County, Yunnan
Credit: inkelv1122, Flickr