South Korea’s Emart24 opened on Friday at Jurong Point and opens on Saturday at nex, Latest Makan News - The New Paper

South Korea’s Emart24 opened on Friday at Jurong Point and opens on Saturday at nex

K-food alert: Emart24, South Korea’s famous convenience store chain, has made its debut in Singapore.

Its first Singapore outlet opened on Friday at Jurong Point, to be followed by the second at Nex at 12pm on Saturday. Both outlets feature a wide range of snacks and beverages, as well as ready-to-eat meals and street food.

The only difference is that the nex outlet has a small dine-in area of 20 seats, while customers at the Jurong Point outlet can stand and eat at counter tables.

Shoppers swarmed the store upon opening for street food highlights such as tteokbokki ($3.90), corn dog ($4.20) and Korean fried chicken (from $5.50).

A convenient takeaway option is Cupbap rice bowl ($5.50), essentially bibimbap in a cup. It comes with rice layered with seaweed and shredded egg, followed by a topping of choice. Options include boneless fried chicken, tuna mayo, and Korean spam with egg mayo.

Pick up banchan (Korean side dishes, from $3.90) and gimbap (from $6.80) to complete the meals.

For drinks, try the chilled sikhye sweet rice drink ($2) or handy pouch drinks (from $1.50), with flavours such as plum hibiscus and peach ade. Or load up on snacks from Emart24’s labels I’m E and No Brand.

The chain is under South Korea’s retail giant and listed company Shinsegae, and has more than 6,500 outlets at home.

Outside of South Korea, Emart24 opened in Malaysia in 2020 and has 15 outlets there.

Emart24 Singapore’s chief executive Andy Choi, 54, has had plans to open in Singapore since 2018.

He holds the master franchise to operate in Singapore and his goal is to expand to 300 stores here in five years.

While the Jurong Point outlet carries the DNA of the brand - a hybrid of retail and quick food options - others may operate in different formats.

Store sizes will vary and some may be delivery-only to better reach consumers, he adds.

Mr Choi, who lived in Singapore for three years in the 1990s when he was in banking, says it was a no brainer to start with smaller stores in the heartlands versus a mega store in the Orchard Road area.

He says: “I wanted to present Korea in a more authentic and approachable way. The price point has to be right, along with the quality and location so that we can be part of a Singaporean’s life on an everyday basis.”

The outlets here currently do not operate 24-hours - unlike some in South Korea - due to the lack of manpower.

Emart24’s debut comes hot on the heels of recently opened Korean grocer and restaurant concept Market Blue at Tanglin Mall.

Other Korean marts in Singapore include Shine Korea, Lee Mart and premium online grocer SoGoodK.

Emart24’s presence at Jurong Point also comes shortly after the mall welcomed popular Japanese discount store chain Don Don Donki in November.

Mr Choi adds: “I think Singaporeans have understood Korea for a long time. Korean businesses are now evolving to introduce more authentic and different sides of Korean culture, and we hope to be at the frontier of the evolution.”

Emart24 opens from 10am to 10pm daily at 01-16G/H/J Jurong Point, 1 Jurong West Central 2. The outlet at B2-50/51 Nex, 23 Serangoon Central opens on Saturday at 12pm. It opens from 10.30am to 10.30pm daily.