South Korea’s Emart24 sets up shop at Jurong Point and Nex

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Eunice Quek gets her K-snack fix at the first Singapore outlet of the South Korean convenience store chain, Emart24. From crispy bites, street food and drink pouches, here are three must-try items.

SINGAPORE – K-food alert: Emart24, South Korea’s famous convenience store chain, has made its debut in Singapore.

Its first Singapore outlet opened on Friday at Jurong Point. It will be followed by the second store at Nex mall on Saturday at noon. Both outlets feature a wide range of snacks and beverages, as well as ready-to-eat meals and street food.

The Nex outlet has a dine-in area of 20 seats, while customers at the Jurong Point branch can stand and eat at counter tables.

Shoppers swarmed the Jurong Point store upon its opening for street food highlights such as tteokbokki ($3.90), corn dog ($4.20) and Korean fried chicken (from $5.50).

A convenient takeaway option is Cupbap rice bowl ($5.50), essentially bibimbap in a cup. It comes with rice layered with seaweed and shredded egg, and a topping of choice – with options such as boneless fried chicken, tuna mayo, and Korean spam with egg mayo.

Pick up banchan (Korean side dishes, from $3.90) and gimbap (from $6.80) to complete the meals.

For drinks, try the chilled sikhye sweet rice drink ($2), or handy pouch drinks (from $1.50) with flavours such as plum hibiscus and peach ade. Or load up on snacks from Emart24’s labels I’m E and No Brand.

The chain is under South Korea’s retail giant and listed company Shinsegae, and has more than 6,500 outlets in its home country.

Outside of South Korea, Emart24 opened in Malaysia in 2020 and has 15 outlets there.

Emart24 Singapore’s chief executive Andy Choi, 54, has had plans to open the chain in Singapore since 2018.

He holds the master franchise to operate in Singapore and his goal is to expand to 300 stores here in five years.

While the Jurong Point outlet carries the DNA of the brand – a hybrid of retail and quick food options – others may operate in different formats.

Store sizes will vary, and some may be delivery-only to better reach consumers, Mr Choi adds.

Mr Choi, a South Korean who lived in Singapore for three years in the 1990s when he was in the banking industry, says it was a no-brainer to start with smaller stores in the heartland versus a mega store in the Orchard Road area.

He says: “I wanted to present South Korea in a more authentic and approachable way. The price point has to be right, along with the quality and location so that we can be part of a Singaporean’s life on an everyday basis.”

Street food offerings at South Korean convenience store chain Emart24 at Jurong Point. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Snacks at South Korean convenience store chain Emart24 at Jurong Point. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

The outlets here do not operate 24 hours – unlike some in South Korea – due to a lack of manpower.

Emart24’s debut comes hot on the heels of the recently opened South Korean grocer and restaurant concept Market Blue at Tanglin Mall.

Other South Korean marts in Singapore include Shine Korea, Lee Mart and premium online grocer SoGoodK.

The outlets here do not operate 24 hours – unlike some in South Korea – due to a lack of manpower. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH
Shoppers at South Korean convenience store chain Emart24 at Jurong Point on Friday. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Emart24’s presence at Jurong Point comes shortly after the mall welcomed popular Japanese discount store chain Don Don Donki in November.

Mr Choi says: “South Korean businesses are evolving to introduce more authentic and different sides of South Korean culture, and we hope to be at the frontier of the evolution.”

Emart24 at 01-16G/H/J Jurong Point, 1 Jurong West Central 2, opens daily from 9am to 11pm. The outlet at B2-50/51 Nex, 23 Serangoon Central, opens on Saturday at noon. It will open daily from 10.30am to 10.30pm.

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