May 17, 2024 - News

Famous Asian grocery chain opens in Richmond area

A picture showing aisles of fruits, produce and people shopping with a sign above that says "Welcome to Lotte Plaza Market" in black

The produce section at the entrance of the store, which regularly has deals. Photo: Sabrina Moreno/Axios

Richmond, we've got a new Asian grocery store — and it has a food court.

Why it matters: Saying the 45,000-square-foot Lotte Plaza Market, a Korean-owned grocery chain, is an experience would be an understatement.

The big picture: The Richmond-area location is the only one in the state outside of the six in Northern Virginia. It's the 16th to open in the U.S. since the grocery chain's Maryland debut in 1976.

  • It's also in a part of Henrico, the county in the region with the largest Asian population, where Asian residents account for up to 15% of the population compared to the county's overall 10%, per census data.

Zoom in: Lotte is known online as the Disney World of Asian grocers, writes Richmond Magazine, and since opening last week at 7801 W. Broad Street, the store has been so full with customers that getting a parking spot likely means getting some steps in.

Sabrina's thought bubble: As a former Floridian, I can confirm the Disney World comparison.

  • I went with my friend opening weekend to try out the food court and accidentally stayed for four hours exploring.

There are 14 massive aisles with the most aesthetically placed items, but here were my highlights:

  • A section dedicated entirely to kimchi.
  • So many frozen dumplings options that I could buy one a day for a year and still have more to choose from (probably).
  • Jackfruit the size of a toddler.
  • Sections for Korean barbecue and hot pot that include thinly sliced pork belly and brisket.

Honorable mentions: The (surprising) variety of Latino food items from different countries and the snack options, which include spicy lobster-flavored chips.

A picture of rice, a kimchi pancake with two sides of kimchi, beef bulgogi in a black container and ribs in another black container on trays.
The feast we had. Photo: Sabrina Moreno/Axios

The food court, named "Lotte Eatery," will eventually have Korean barbecue from bb.q Chicken, Hanabi Japanese Restaurant, bubble tea by Yogi Tea and French-Korean bakery Tous Les Jours.

  • But only Joen Korean Restaurant was open last weekend.

What I got:

  • A crispy kimchi pancake I'm still dreaming of. $14.
  • Galbi, savory and juicy beef short ribs. $18.
  • Beef bulgogi which comes with rice and kimchi. $23.

The bottom line: I'm coming back and you should, too.

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