Market Blue, a Korean food hall for fans of K-culture
This Korean food hall, which is in its soft launch phase, is one for fans of K-culture.
Market Blue’s chief operating officer Lee Ju-hak calls it a “grocerant” – a grocery and restaurant in one – inspired by traditional wet markets in Seoul.
It houses three food stalls which are currently open only for lunch. They offer baekban (Korean homestyle meals with rice, soup and sides), fried snacks and Korean-style pancakes.
There is also Donas 8 bakery, which is currently selling Jeju tangerines, but will offer desserts and doughnuts later.
Menus will be refreshed every quarter, adds Mr Lee, who will soon roll out a Korean barbecue menu. A butchery is also in the pipeline.
Do not miss the makgeolli ($10.90 a glass), freshly brewed at the on-site brewery.
When Market Blue opens fully, its opening hours will be adjusted – from 10.30am to 10pm.
The retail section offers an interesting mix of products such as golf balls in egg cartons, clothing, potato chip-shaped clips, Korean ramyun and snacks.
The in-store range is mostly different from that on the online platform BlueBasket (https://bluebasket.com).
The brands are by food and beverage company Gusto X, which also runs the B For Bagel cafe, originally from Seoul, next to Market Blue in the same mall.
Mr Lee is looking to open another two Market Blue stores by next year.
Which stalls to try:
A hearty baekban meal (from $24.90) is the star dish here. It comes in a large platter with rice and soup, surrounded by seven banchan (side dishes). Choose beef, pork, chicken or fish for the main.
I go for the beef. The sides, which include steamed egg, kimchi and crunchy burdock, are delicious.
The platter is good for two people.
Pair the housemade makgeolli with a variety of snacks from this stall. Highlights include crispy chicken ($15.90), cheese balls ($8.90) and fish cake soup ($8.90).
Other dishes include sweet and spicy chewy noodles ($15.90) and bibim mandoo ($15.90), which is served with Korean potstickers instead of rice.
3. BlueBasket grocer section
A staggering array of neatly stacked Korean ramyun (from $2) leaves me spoilt for choice.
I like that you can buy individual packets – you get to try more flavours without having to worry about what to do with those you are not fond of.
After asking for recommendations, I end up in a very intense discussion on my ramyun preferences with the friendly staff.
I leave with five packets – a mix of spicy and seafood flavours, as well as a dry and non-fried option.
For snacks, I try the vegan soft popcorn ($3.50), as well as a honey and apple snack ($3.50).
The latter is my top pick. The shape of the snack reminds me of fusilli pasta, with the spiral pattern adding to its crunch and each ridge glistening with honey. It is not too sweet and highly addictive.
Where: B1-122/123/124 Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Road; open: 10am to 5pm daily, closed on Dec 5
Info: @marketblue_official on Instagram