Dong Yang (Hilltop, MN)

When we first moved to Minnesota in 2007 we did all our Korean food shopping at the venerable United Noodles in Minneapolis. Then we happened on Kim’s in St. Paul and that became our go-to store. (United Noodles’s pan-Asian selection goes wider than it does deep.) At some point after that we heard tell of a larger and better store up north on Central Avenue in Minneapolis. And that is how we happened on both Pooja Grocers and Dong Yang. Back then, they were both located in the same unattractive large strip mall in Hilltop. Pooja Grocers eventually moved out to their own digs but Dong Yang is still where they were. And they’re still the largest Korean grocery in the Twin Cities. We don’t shop there very much any more—Hana Market is smaller but is much closer to us—but there’s something comforting about knowing that they’re still there and still thriving. Here now is a very belated look at the store, via pictures taken on a shopping excursion after our second meal at NY Gyro in December.

Indeed, Dong Yang has barely changed in the last decade and change. The space is essentially divided into three sections. The largest section, which is where you enter, contains the majority of the dry stock, along with a small fresh vegetable section and at the end a frozen seafood and meat counter. This section opens into a small restaurant that serves the greatest hits of Korean restaurant cuisine in the US. Some people make large claims for the food here but we’ve never found it remarkable in any way (full disclosure: it’s been many years since we’ve eaten there). The restaurant has a “window” that opens into the third section, which is located behind the first. This section houses a lot of refrigerated and frozen foods and is where you go to find their banchan and kimchi selection. It also contains a lot of cookware etc. I still have a stone pot I purchased from there more than a decade ago.

Given the not-very high Korean population of the Twin Cities metro, it is not surprising that our largest Korean store cannot compare in size to stores like Ha Tien and Dragon Star (or even Shuang Hur or Double Dragon). It is, nonetheless, more than adequate for most Korean cooking needs. And now that NY Gyro calls out to us from a bit further up Central Avenue, it’s possible we’ll shop there again sometime soon. Maybe in the spring—there was a time when they sold seedlings of Korean peppers in the front of the store and I’d love to plant them again.

In the meantime, here is a look at the store. If you have not been, it will hopefully give you a sense of the lay of the land. Click on a picture below to launch the larger slideshow. Scroll down to see what’s coming next.

Up next on the food front: another restaurant report from Delhi. That’ll be on Thursday—again, my usual Thursday recipe posts are going to be on hold for a bit. If you’re starved for Twin Cities restaurant content, however, don’t worry: I’ll have a local restaurant report next Tuesday.



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