Deli Oriental Meat Style & Food
117-15 Avenue SE
Taking a short break from the usual dine-in experience we like to report on here at foodosophy, I bring to you a quick write up on what I believe is a little known but pleasantly surprising Asian food store…
Visiting the Stampede City recently on business, I remembered this tiny shop along 15th Avenue SE that I used to frequent when I lived for a time in Calgary, which was my go-to spot to buy my supply of delicious homemade kimchi. To be precise, they sell it in $5, $10, and $15 batches, all weighed and packaged by whoever might be working at the time. I recommend you switch it to an airtight container once you are back home and store it in your refrigerator to ensure maximum freshness. It can last for weeks, and when you start to notice the sourness peak up, mix it in a big pot and create your own kimchi chigae.
On most visits, I’d be kindly greeted by a grandmother-like figure, the person who makes the kimchi herself, and by a young man who is probably her grandson. The elderly woman speaks little English (if at all) but she’s pleasantly offered me tasting samples of the kimchi or the other delights she makes herself (to be mentioned later in this post) and offers for sale inside. Its a game of hand gestures and smiles, but hey, if I can get some free treats while I wait for my kimchi to be packaged together, I won’t complain…
Of course, aside from the homemade kimchi that is my sole purpose in visiting this store, they also sell other grocery items like packaged snacks and cooking ingredients of the Asian persuasion. From Korean miso (dengjang), instant curry mixes, and snack foods, the assortment is all over the place.
One of those items that I noted earlier that the grandmother often gave me were portions of the chapssalddeok. Made of glutinous rice (like Japanese mochi), and on the inside is a mixture of sweet red beans, and often they are all coated in white sugar to give it more sweetness. Sizes and shapes vary, you can find them in larger cubes (like the ones pictured on the left of the stand) to more rounder formations that resemble giant gumballs (like those on the right). I forget how much these were, but they are very reasonable in price, and I’d usually pick up a tray to go with my kimchi purchase.
I wish I could see into the vault in the back where the kimchi is preserved and stored. Sometimes I would see the person putting my order together go even further into the back, so not exactly sure where its kept.
And here it is, the cabbage kimchi. A small sample tasting of it revealed that this batch was perhaps still on the “young” side, meaning the flavours hadn’t fully marinated into the vegetable, but still even in this fresh stage, better than those mass produced, pre-packaged varieties found in the Asian grocery stores of the city.
So please Calgarians, if you’re ever in need of some spicy Korean side dish to spruce up your attempts at home-style Korean barbecue, try to remember Deli Oriental and help support another local, mom-and-pop store that is still surviving amid all the intrusions of the Asian supermarket mega stores like T&T in Calgary. You’ll definitely get much more personal service and with a smile.