Costco Field Trip: Costco Korea (Yangjae by Seoul)

August 3rd, 2013 · 11 Comments

On our way back to London, we flew through Seoul and used that as the perfect time to stop in Seoul for a few days.  Our time in Seoul bracketed either side of our holiday in Japan.  And of course, we couldn’t be so close to the busiest Costco store anywhere and not go, could we?  That would just be crazy talk.  We picked the Costco by Yangjae because it was closest to our hotel and was pretty easy to get to via public transport (subway and bus).   We were shopping Gangnam style!

Costco bus stop

Costco bus stop

As I said, we took public transport to Costco and it was pretty easy to use the subway because it is well signed, in English, however, the bus is a bit of a different story.  Luckily, our very helpful concierge at the Hyatt was very familiar with Costco and knew right how to get there.  She thought we were a bit strange for wanting to go there, and possibly even more so when I told her that I write a blog all about Costco.  When we were on the bus we were pretty sure we were on the right one, but not super positive which stop to get off at.  But, the Costco gods were looking out for us and a woman with a giant Costco bag got on the bus right after us, so we knew she was most likely going to the same place we were (and she was).  The traffic is nuts right around the Costco because there’s a mall or something directly across the street and there’s all this traffic going every which way.  I was glad I wasn’t driving in it.  It’s probably one of those situations where if you knew where you were going, it wouldn’t seem nearly as bad.

So, us and everyone in Seoul, it seemed, decided that Saturday was the perfect time to go to Costco.  It is easy to see how this store does such phenomenal business, it was super packed.  Of course, we were there right after the latest bunch of coupons started, so I think that just added to the craziness.  The layout is pretty similar to all of the other Costco stores around the world.  However, the big difference is that this Costco is spread out over two floors with an escalator down to the food stuffs, checkout, and food court.  And yeah, there was a big queue to get on the escalator.  I do like the escalators that Costco uses, they are just an incline belt really that the wheels of the carts lock into and you just stand there as you slowly descend with your tons of purchases in your cart.  They use the same escalators at the Costco in Osaka to get to the parking and a few of the others that we have been to that are on two floors, including one in New York.  Far better than the lifts that they have in some of the locations, I think.

Costco drive-in movies

Costco drive-in movies

They had a really great selection of electronics and appliances.  Lots of things from Samsung and LG.  The first thing we noticed was the parking lot for kids in front of one of the big televisions.  We had a little chuckle over that.  It was like a shopping cart drive-in for the small people.  I really thought that the refrigerators they had with four doors and pretty designs on the glossy white doors were great and I’m kind of sad that we can’t get them in either the US or UK (at least I’ve not seen them before).  Costco will even deliver and install the new appliances, so that makes them even better.  There was also a whole section for things like cool locks using fingerprints or codes, as well as a plethora of choices for washlet seats (those are like the built-in fancy bidet things with water jets, fans for drying, and even heated seats).  It was also furniture season at Costco Korea too, so the first floor had a lot of different furniture items, including dining sets, beds, sofas, credenzas, bookcases.  For anyone that has always assumed that Asian homes are really small and couldn’t handle big furniture, that is clearly not the case.  There was even a giant dining room set that had seating for 8, very comfortable seating for 8, I think if you tried you could easily have 10 people around the table and no one would be elbowing anyone else even.  And again, free delivery of your new giant furniture purchase, as long as you are within 15 kms of the warehouse.

The majority of the housewares were similar to things you’d find in the same aisles in the US, UK, Canada, or Australia, but maybe a few additional things like rice cookers.  I did think it was funny that they had Royal Albert Old Country Roses china.  My sister has this same pattern actually, so I had to take a picture for her.  The prices on it were pretty good too, since the 12 piece set was only ₩169,000, which is about $151.00 US or £100.00.

Cooling arm covers for women?

Cooling arm covers for women?

There were also lots of products that I’ve not seen before at any Costco location.  For instance, the spiffy badminton set.  It wasn’t very expensive but looked really nicely made, though I’m definitely not an expert.  I think the last time I played badminton was in gym class in high school probably.  The other thing that I’ve never seen in the US, UK, or Australia were these interesting cooling arm covers for women.  I saw a lot of women wearing these in Seoul and when we were in Japan, as well.  I’m really intrigued by these and want to know how well they work, and why don’t we have these anywhere else?  The other cool thing they had was these little coin sized pucks that when you wet them, they can be used as a wet tissue or disposable dishcloth.  There were 300 of the little towel pucks in this small box.  How cool is that?  We’ve bought things like this before in the camping area, but I’ve never ever seen them in bulk or in any type of mainstream retailer.  They also had packs of 100 sets of disposable wooden chopsticks, as well as nicer ones (as in not disposable) in the housewares section.

Wrinkle filler mask

Wrinkle filler mask

When we got to the beauty section, I was a bit freaked out to see this wrinkle filler stuff because I thought at first it was something you actually injected.  You can see how I could be confused because of the image of the syringe on the front of the package.  But on closer inspection, I was relieved to see that it is actually just a mask.  No crazy at home injectable filler stuff.  Phew!  They had me worried there for a minute.  I thought it seemed like they had quite a selection of clothing and there were a lot of people shopping for clothes.  They also had the outstanding Kirkland Signature Men’s Dress Shirts.  So, naturally we had to pick one up for Dave.  It was the end of our holiday and he kind of was running out of shirt options to wear on the flight home.  Most of them were in “Asian Sizes” but we were able to find Dave one and it was even long enough.   They had a very handy size chart that was really useful.



After we finished our browsing around upstairs we took the escalator down to the food section.  There was so much to see!  But of course, I honed right in on the delicious glazed donuts!  They were big, soft, delicious and freshly made….OMG they were awesome.  You can probably tell from that response, that we did indeed buy some.  They come in a flat box of a dozen donuts and were wonderful and I am fully hoping that they start making the donuts at all the Costco locations.  Yum!  In addition to the donuts, they had these interesting fried bun looking things that they call “fresh cream soboro bread” and I’m dying to know what these are actually.  We were really tempted to get them just to try them out.  Another sweet that they had, that I’m pretty sure won’t be coming to your US, UK, Canada, or Australian Costco bakery anytime soon is the Green Tea Chiffon Cake. It looked absolutely beautiful but green tea isn’t something you see so much in North America or Europe.

Super fresh fish

Super fresh fish

Then we turned our attention to the fish and sushi area.  They had quite a good selection of sushi platters, that looked really nice.  They had a 48 piece platter that was ₩29,990 (£17.60 or $26.66 US); which seems like a great deal for such nice looking sushi.  They also had a couple of different platters that were just 20 pieces with prices ranging from ₩9,990 – ₩13,990 ($8.88 – $12.44 US or £5.86 – £8.21).  Their options were almost as good as what we had seen at Costco Japan.  What we weren’t expecting though was the tank of live fish!

They also had fairly pricey watermelons here.   Each watermelon was ₩14,490 ($12.88 or £8.50).  I just can’t imagine paying that kind of price for a watermelon!  I’ll have to be sure to tell my mom the last time she talks about how overpriced she feels the $4.00 watermelons are by her.  I did like that Costco provided a cool little watermelon carrying net.  And there were plenty of shoppers buying watermelons too.  They were really working their way through the big crate of them.

Johnsonville Beddar Cheddar sausages

Johnsonville Beddar Cheddar sausages

They had nice looking steaks, but their beef seemed to be Australian grain fed, and not the US beef that they had in Japan, which did surprise me a bit.  They all looked really nice.  I was surprised to see Johnsonville Beddar Cheddar sausages though.  That just seemed really strange.  Especially since I am pretty positive they never had the Johnsonville sausages in Australia and they definitely don’t have them here.  Dave and I love the Beddar Cheddars though.  If I could have brought some back with me, I would have, but I’m quite positive that the customs people here in the UK would be opposed to that kind of souvenir.  And I am totally jealous of the variety flatbread three pack that they had.  These were actually little pizzas and I would love that here in the UK, because they might actually fit in my oven.

Just like every Costco location around the globe, they have the delicious rotisserie chickens too; from domestic chickens.  Each chicken is ₩7,490 ($6.66 US or £4.40).  That’s a little bit more than you’d pay in the US, UK or Australia, however, they seemed to be popular with shoppers.  They also had rotisserie chicken legs for ₩9,990 ($8.88 US or £5.86) from US chickens.  I would prefer just the breast instead of the legs, personally.

In the food court, they have mostly the same things as in the US or Australia, but there are a few differences.  The hot dog and soda deal is ₩2,000 ($1.78 US or £1.17).  I think they have pricing that is most like the US price out of any of the foreign Costco locations that I’ve visited.  They have the chicken bake, as well as the bulgogi bake, pizzas, and the hot turkey and provolone sandwich that is in the US too.  But things I haven’t seen anywhere else are the chicken apple salad and the mushroom soup.  Though, I’d love for my Costco to have mushroom soup.  Yum!  The salad looked really delicious too.

We definitely enjoyed our trip to Costco Korea and enjoyed our post-shopping snack of glazed donuts too.  There were quite a number of people, but much like in Japan they were really fairly calm and orderly and didn’t do the out of hand pushing and shoving and cart ramming that you get at some busy store locations.  The only place it seemed a bit hectic was around the watermelons and the sushi; seriously, I’m not kidding.  We loved Seoul, in general, and found that everyone was very friendly and helpful.  It seemed like most places we went we were the only Americans, so we stuck out more than a bit.  We were really impressed with how easy it was to get around on the subway and how sparkling clean and nice it is too.  We were also happy to see that a lot of people were able to deal with us in English, because we know like two or three phrases in Korean.  And to be truthful, we’re probably saying those wrong.  LOL  Now I can’t wait to go back to Seoul and be able to see a little more of Korea too.



Tags: Food · General · Locations Share

11 Responses so far ↓

  1. 1 Allison Louise Turner // 2014.01.17 at 3:59 pm

    This is now my closest Costco location and I visit it almost every Saturday. Great place!

    • 2 Neda // 2014.01.30 at 9:28 pm

      Hi Allison, I make homemade Hummus with Tahini. I made 12 samples for a group of people and 11 of them placed an order with me. If you are interested in trying it I would be happy to make you a sample. Not sure what area you are in but I live close to Seoul Foreign School.

  2. 3 Steve J // 2013.12.18 at 6:14 pm

    Allison – has hummus

    • 4 Allison Louise Turner // 2014.01.17 at 3:58 pm

      At outrageous prices. If Costco in Korea carried hummus it would make a world of difference for expats in Korea plus it would be a big seller.

  3. 5 Allison Louise Turner // 2013.09.02 at 7:29 am

    No hummus in any Costco’s in Korea, and we need it badly. The only hummus is homemade stuff taht isn’t very good. There would be a big market for it, too.

  4. 6 Allison Louise Turner // 2013.08.13 at 6:06 am

    BTW, the Costco food courts are also wildly popular in Korea. You can never get a seat. The Yanjae location sells the most pizzas of any location in the world. Other Korean grocers have tried to compete with the food court by offering similar sized pizzas for the same prices.

  5. 7 Allison Louise Turner // 2013.08.13 at 6:02 am

    Wow, you visited Yanjae. That store is the most inconvenient location in Seoul for public transportation. I usually take a taxi to/from the subway station and Costco.
    I can assure you that the prices at Costco are all lower, and in some cases much lower than those in other stores in Seoul., especially for things like rotisserie chicken, which can cost 15,000+ won for whole birds. The fruit prices are also much lower than anywhere else in Seoul. That location has a large following in the wealthier local neighborhoods of Gangnam and Bundang.
    The one item I wish Costco in Korea would stock is Sabra hummus. That would be great. Otherwise, we’re thrilled to have Costco, and any sane person living anywhere in the world would agree.

    • 8 Kimberly // 2013.08.13 at 6:57 am

      @Allison – The getting to Yangjae wasn’t too bad using the public transport. But the getting back was a bit harder as we couldn’t figure out which bus to get on from Costco. Of course, that just meant we did a little walking and it wasn’t that big a deal. I mean, I wouldn’t do it if I had something more than a shirt and a box of donuts. LOL Do they have a different brand of hummus in Seoul at least? They don’t have the Sabra brand in the UK either, but they have some other options at least (though they’re not as good).

      I was amazed as how jam packed the food court was when we were there. But they have it tucked into this little tiny area and so I think that isn’t helping things. It seemed like one of the smallest food court seating areas I’ve seen.

  6. 9 Joyce // 2013.08.12 at 5:26 pm

    I love Costco! Enjoyed your blog, I moved, to be closer to my daughter and I have to drive over 50 miles to Costco.

  7. 10 Bill H. // 2013.08.03 at 7:29 pm

    These are really great pictures! As a Costco geek (and employee) myself, I really find these interesting, especially that there are so many things also labeled in English.

    • 11 Kimberly // 2013.08.05 at 3:41 am

      @Bill H. – I thought it was interesting to see how much English there was too. But really, there’s a lot of signage all over Korea, at least Seoul, in English, which is great for tourists like us. I was also impressed with how well people spoke English, and were willing to do so with us. Their English skills were much better than my Korean skills. 😀

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