Foodstuffs: Concord Corner Market Serves Up Authentic Korean Food

Dec 29, 2016

If you’re in Concord and in the mood for some homemade Korean food, you might be able to find exactly what you’re looking for in the same place you get your late night snacks and drinks.  Go Food Basket is more than a corner store.  It’s also where you can get a jar of kimchi or a warm Korean meal on the go.

The woman behind this kimchi goes by the American name, "Helen." 

"My Korean name is Hye-Sook," she says, "but when I tell my costumers my name is Hye-Sook, they say 'Hye- what?'  So my husband made me an easy, American name: Helen."

 Helen believes in cutting all her vegetables by hand. She says machine cut vegetables just don’t taste the same. "When I use the machine, after that, it’s watery.  It turns watery.  But when I cut by hand it’s not," she says. 

Helen laughs if you call her a chef, but handles the vegetables with chef-like care. Here in her kitchen at Go Food Basket, on little more than a tiny stove top, Helen can whip up some bibimbap, which is a mixture of white rice, beef, fresh vegetables, hot chili paste, and a fried egg. Or, if you’re feeling a bit less adventurous, a Philly Cheese Steak. 

"I make the best steak and cheese. I’m from Philly so I learned from there," she says. 

Helen and her family came to America from Korea about 27 years ago. They moved to Philadelphia originally, then moved to New Hampshire seven years later when Helen’s husband got a job in Massachusetts.  But when he was laid off in early 2000, they needed a new plan.

"I have three children, so what can you do?  So we just started a grocery store."

The store that became Go Food Basket, where you can easily pick up a jar of homemade kimchi and a box of Cheez-Its. Helen admits the store had a rough start. Back then, it was difficult to find Korean foods in New Hampshire. Customers weren't familiar with it. 

Jars of kimchee for sale at Go Food Basket in Concord, N.H.
Credit Shelby El Otmani / NHPR

"When we started here some of the customers came in and said, 'What’s the smell of this store?  It smells terrible!' And just left.  So we were feeling bad for that time."

But now? Customers seem to love it. Her kimchi in particular has become a sought-after item.

"First time everybody comes in and gets the small jar. 'I’ll just taste it, just try it.' But now everybody gets the big jar! So they make me busier!" Helen laughs. And while kimchi could go with a box of Cheez-Its – Helen says it goes well with just about everything – she recommends trying it with white rice, eggs, or even on a hotdog.  

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