I love going to small businesses that have character, familiarity and coziness. Arirang Oriental Market is no exception. Started by Mr. Woo, a wonderfully humble Korean man, this little community market, located at 7940 Martin Way E, Lacey, Washington, boasts a variety of products that will satisfy any type of Asian recipe outside of Tacoma and Seattle. From fresh garlic, to homemade kimchee, to Thai and Hawaiian products, you can find most ingredients to satisfy your Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai or Chinese homemade dish. For you Hawaiians craving home cooking, you can find crack see, poi (frozen), Aloha Shoyu and other yummies.
I must not neglect that this little market does specialize in a few things besides homemade kimchee (by the way, is good for kimchee fried rice): kim pop and chop chae. Kim pop is a Korean sushi roll that includes watercress, takuan and carrots wrapped in plain (not vinegared) rice with nori (seaweed paper). Great for a quick lunch or to take to parties as an appetizer (or as we Hawai’i people call it—pupu). Chop chae is a stir-fried noodle dish with a bunch of julienned veggies, garlic (of course) and clear noodles. This, too, is a great dish for a lunch or pupu.
Alice Woo and her husband Sung now run the store but the elder Woos are on occasionally to say hello and help out in the back. This is the small enterprise that is being perpetuated through the next generation, while serving those with Asian product needs.
Next time you go in, let Alice know you read about their great establishment on Talking Small Biz!