Bangsan Market

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

You can find this article with pictures in the new issue of Eloquence Magazine.

Dan

Just flour, sugar, butter, an egg, a dash of salt, a bit of baking powder can turn your entire house into a time capsule. Baking cookies in the kitchen is almost every child’s first foray into cooking because of height and prior knowledge. Play-dough had trained us in the technical skills of mixing and forming cookie shapes and our height was perfect for peering into television like oven to see our creations transform.

Baking is problematic in Korea. Most households lack ovens- and if you do have an oven, you might not know where to get all the proper tools such as pans, spatulas, pastry bags, measuring cups, mixers, etc. Then the price of the ingredients is astronomical and subpar, so baking requires a true investment of your time and money. I posed this dilemma to my friend Elinza Pretorius, who has her own baking company; she pointed me towards Bangsan Market in Dongdaemun.

Go to Jongno 5-ga exit 7 and walk straight. You’ll cross a brick bridge that crosses over Cheonggyecheon river and you’ll see a sign that reads, “방산종 한시장.” As you pass through the gate, don’t be disappointed. It’s not the bakery wonderland that you may have expected. Walk about 50 meters and you’ll see a little bakery shop called “Seoil Total Bakery System (설토탈베이커리시스템).” They have a reasonable array of baking supplies-but don’t be deterred. Walk a little farther and you’ll see a red sign that reads “박스.” Turn into this alley and you’ll find a cluster of 10 or twelve bakery shops that sell everything from ovens and KitchenAid mixers to 1-kilogram containers of cream cheese, non-dairy whipping cream, and sprinkles.

Under a yellow canopy you’ll find “의신상회.” This was the bakery ingredients store that was featured in the Korean drama, “My Lovely Sam-Soon.” This store is well laid out and there is a vast array of flour, nuts, dried fruit, sprinkles, Dutch process cocoa, and canned fruit for pies such as cherries, blueberries, pears. The prices on bulk items are reasonable. A 1-kilogram bag of chocolate chips costs a mere 5,500 won and a block of Anchor butter will cost 4,000 won. This is also the place to get chocolate; they have a large variety of milk, bitter, and dark all of which are perfect for baking.

So you have your ingredients, but that’s not enough. You will also need pans and trays to transform your ingredients into edible works of art. I recommend, “d & b” and “경훈공업.” They both have friendly personnel and a willingness to discount their products for big ticket items. “d & b” is well laid out with different pastry tips, spring form pans, cake pans, spatulas, cookie cutters and mixers. They also have silpat and silicone heat resistant oven mitts. The KitchenAid mixer prices at “경훈공업” seemed to be the lowest out of all the places I checked out. Their mixers range from 450,000 won to 550,000 won.

If you just want ingredients delivered to you can contact Happy Baking at www.happybaking.com; however, the site is in Korean only. Their shop is located across the street from where you entered into the alley.

All the prices in the shops are competitive. I found it was easier to haggle if you buy in bulk or if you buy an expensive item. Most of the merchants aren’t willing to go down too much because most of the items are imported. All in all, Bangsan is convenient because everything is in one place. If you can’t find it the baking item you seek in Bangsan, it probably doesn’t exist in Korea.

Seoil Total Bakery System
2267-0871
suhilco@naver.com

d & b
2267-4000
www.bakingmall.com

Happy Baking
2268-6009
www.happybaking.com

Kyoung Hoon
2275-5902
www.kyounghoon.com

의신상회
2265-1398

Elinza Pretorius
elinzaza@yahoo.com

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