If you’re going to make the fatal error of grocery shopping while hungry, Reliable Market is the place to do it. The boundless Asian grocer also has a kitchen in the back that sells hot plates of Korean classics for dine-in or take-out.
For decades, the market has been the Union Square neighborhood’s surefire spot for pan-Asian grocery needs, from curry pastes to obscure vinegars to a variety of seaweeds. Refrigerators in the back are bursting with a lengthy lineup of fermented vegetables, nestled against marinating meat and fish. Fresh seafood is also available from a pickup counter.
The craft beer and Asian liquor section expanded over the years to meet the neighborhood’s influx of graduate-school residents, now offering an impressive spread of local brews and ciders as well as soju, sake, and makgeolli.
The hot kitchen emerged as an answer to the area’s dearth of quality Korean eateries. From Wednesday to Sunday, visitors can order from a broad selection of East Asian offerings, including salmon teriyaki, tonkotsu ramen, and pad Thai. However, the menu excels in its Korean fare, from a hot and spicy kimchi jjigae, to sweet bulgogi and a sizzling bibimbap, all accompanied by white rice and banchan (a term for small sides such as kimchi). Take-out is available for those too rushed to cozy up at one of the checker-topped tables squeezed between the beer fridge and the window. If there’s any room left, grab one of the fresh pork buns steaming by the cash register.
Know Before You Go
The kitchen is open from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. Unfortunately, Massachusetts liquor laws prohibit you from drinking on the premises, so you'll have to take any alcoholic beverages to-go.