In the mood for superior food

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In the mood for superior food

A top-tier supermarket with an international selection of fresh and store-made foods can be as much of a draw as a new designer store.

Ask Hong Kong shoppers where the Citysuper markets are anchoring some of the city's trendiest malls so fashionistas can get Versace and vegetables in one swoop. Tokyo shoppers say the same of Kinokuniya,

Here, in Seoul, the venerable Shinsegae Department Store has opened the city's first deluxe supermarket, Star Super, in the new Samsung Tower Palace, south of the Han River. The store spreads across 3,200 sleek square meters; 100 parking spots await customers underground.

Samsung Tower Palace is an apartment-and-office complex populated by locals and expatriates. Star Super caters to both -- and the lifestyles of the rich and harried.

In addition to high-quality Korean foods and imported wines, cheeses, spices, pastas and condiments, the store features a variety of gourmet foods for take-out.

The French bakery Dalloyau and the deli In the Kitchen open at 7:30 a.m. The Fruit Bar sells fresh fruits, washed and packed to go. A small box of grapes cost 3,500 won ($2); assorted fruits -- pineapple, strawberry, grapes and melon -- are 9,500 won.

Star Super offers wholesome, ready-made meals for people too busy to cook. Its Korean, Japanese and European delis offer a wide selection of foods sold by the gram.

Among Star Super's offerings: grilled mero steaks marinated in miso sauce, grilled salmon heads and coquilles St. Jacques (baked scallops, mushrooms and cream sauce.)

The selection of take-out sushi (9,000 won to 27,000 won) is quite impressive, though not entirely surprising since Star Super specializes in live fish; gigantic snow crabs, abalone and black grouper swim in tanks.

Star Super's meat section stocks Korean beef from two exclusive farms in Gangwon province. All beef is from young cows. Pork loin for roasts comes from wild Korean black sows.

The produce section includes organically grown vegetables and herbs sold in portions small enough for one or two people. Some vegetables are peeled, sliced or chopped, and individually vacuum-packed, for making fried rice, soup or stew.

by Ines Cho

Star Super is located in the basement of Building F of the Samsung Tower Palace at Dogok Station, subway line No. 3. The market is open from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Dalloyau bakery and In the Kitchen deli open at 7:30 a.m. and close at 10 p.m.
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