Sunday, October 08, 2017

yesterday's trip to No Brand land

No Brand is the house brand of the Korean chain store eMart, which is something of an omnibus store along the lines of Walmart. While eMart has large stores, there are also small, scaled-down branches like the eMart Everyday in my building's basement. A coworker alerted me, a few weeks ago, to the fact that eMart also has a No Brand store over at Express Bus Terminal Station, so I finally went there yesterday to check it out.

The store's layout is very much like that of a Costco big-box store, but smaller, and the prices as are low as my coworker said they would be. I saw, for the first time ever, a reasonably sized rice cooker on sale for under W30,000; most appliance stores sell such cookers for almost double that price, or higher. The same went for certain pots and pans.

As I wandered up and down the aisles, I grabbed at certain items like ricotta cheese, No Brand cola (which my basement grocery no longer sells; No Brand cola has only half the sugar of regular Coke, but it's just as good of a drink, in my opinion), and a Nutella knockoff that I was curious to try. I also found what I had come there to find: No Brand grill franks, my old friends. They were hiding in one of the refrigerator sections, so I grabbed three packs' worth of franks and trotted over to the cashier.

The cashier's area was a bit of a rude awakening: the lady at the register asked me to remove my items from my shopping basket—a task that eMart employees normally do themselves. She also pointed to the area where I could pick out my own bags; from what I could see, only paper bags were available, which was a bit of a disappointment. Ah, well, I reasoned: you have to put your own items onto the conveyor belt and bag/box them yourself at Costco, so how is this any different? So I swallowed my pride and did what I was told.

And just like that, I was out of the store with my goodies. I'll have to go back and buy some other items, but at least the store had the hot dogs.

When I got home, I immediately opened up the faux Nutella: it turned out not to be bad at all, although I wish the store had sold the larger, Costco-sized tubs instead of the half-sized ones. Several months ago, I had seen a video for a decadent grilled Nutella-and-Brie sandwich that I'm now going to have to make. I think the No Brand Fauxtella will work just fine, although the texture isn't quite as smooth.

No Brand products tend to be hit-or-miss for me: sometimes, as with the Fauxtella and the hot dogs, they're a big hit. At other times, as with the No Brand Pringles and cheese-ball knockoffs, the results are fairly shitty (the ricotta turned out to be edible, but to have the gross consistency of elementary-school Elmer's paste). All in all, though, I'm fairly happy with my haul—especially when No Brand cola costs only W330 per can. That's cheap.

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