Lotte Plaza, a self-defined “High Quality Asian Market” focusing on providing “Good Food, Good Price and Good Services”, remade a former huge “Toys-R-Us” in Catonsville into a huge Asian-focused supermarket about two years ago. (At the time, we were surprised at their daring in opening up a store barely a half mile west of the highly successful and popular “H-Mart” Asian supermarket and only 4 miles east of their Ellicott City store.
What isn’t obvious from the entrance is that Lotte Plaza retail space is a huge wedge which fans out behind the existing strip mall stores to the left and to the right and encompassing a total square footage that appears to be more than double the size of its own Ellicott City location plus nearby competitor, H-Mart. (Surprisingly, despite the success of Lotte Plaza and its often full parkign lot, more often than not, it can be tough to find a parking space in front of H-Mart – obviously, there is enough business to keep both businesses happy! The magnitude of how big Lotte Plaza is doesn’t really hit a first timer until you enter the store and begin to take in the huge produce section.
Like other Asian markets around Baltimore, the variety of veggies and fruits that you’ll never see at Giant (or Harris Teeter or even Wegman’s…) is amazing and eye opening.
It’s the nature of so many more choices to leave a new comer taken aback. Tofu is one example – In most local grocery stores, you’d be lucky to find one brand of tofu with two or three varieties. At Lottle Plaza, there’s a 30 foot long refrigerated section with nothing but Tofu! (The section is divided into two sections – Chinese Tofu and Korean Tofu; Did you know the difference between them? I still don’t! If you do, please educate me and drop me a note!)
The range of varieties and at times overwhelming choices to be made continues throughout Lotte Plaza. Below, one side of a 50 foot long aisle is devoted just to Soy and other Asian Sauces!
On top of a 100 foot aisle of frozen foods, there are arranged dozens and dozens of different types of drinks…
Some people wrongly assume that Lotte Plaza specializes only in Korean foods – while those are very represented, I’m amazed at the types of Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Japanese specialities (Below is part of the frozen food section focused on just Indian foods!)
Here’s another 40+ foot wall of an aisle just filled with different types of beans (there’s an equally long wall of spices!)
There’s a “food court” eatery at the far left end of Lotte Plaza with six large booths (I confess that I had already eaten lunch and had an excuse to not to try picking out something to try!)
One of the interesting things that you won’t much of though at Lotte Plaza is bread or baked goods ! There’s some but nothing compared to what you would find at a typical American style supermarket. I tried some Ginger Crackers (made in Korea!) that proved to be really good and quite delicious!
What else did I purchase? Well I got some Korean Pancakes and some spring rolls – both bargain priced! <WInk>