The next time you're in NY scouring 34th Street for bargains at Macys, The Gap, Old Navy and H&M, remember that some of the best shopping in Manhattan is not always easy to find, especially if we're talking about the gluten free kind. On 32nd Street between Fifth Avenue and Broadway, otherwise known as Koreatown, is a large supermarket called Han Ah Rheum. Look carefully for the sign, in royal blue on the north side of the street, because any English, as with many signs on the block, is way above eye level, if existing at all.
For a gluten-free shopper, there is the delight of every conceivable form of rice, and in every color from white to black.
And kimchi, the spicy Korean cabbage, in many varieties. Tofu, an entire refrigerator section of types. Shirataki, tofu and yam noodles which are gluten free, in widths from angel hair to fettucine.
Rice candies and rice cakes perfect for the gluten-free diet. Pictured is a large, slightly sweet, thin and crunchy variety called Mammos and compared to an American rice cake, it certainly is mammoth.The real surprise, though, is the produce department, which, at first glance, is small and unimpressive. But look closely and you will find, depending on the day, perfectly fresh endive at half your local market's price, or seedless cucumbers, romaine lettuce, red peppers, shitake and other wild mushrooms, all for considerably less than you'd pay elsewhere.
Unless you speak Korean, though, this store is best explored slowly, taking time to carefully read the nutritional labels (in English) attached to all imported goods. The condiment section, alone, merits a half hour’s investigation.
Han Ah Rheum is one of Manhattan’s most valuable gluten-free shopping sites, worth the time spent investigating its treasures. If you live here, make it a regular shopping stop, and if you're visiting, this is definitely something to tell your gluten-free friends at home about!
25 West 32nd Street, 212-695-3283, 9am-midnight every day, Credit cards accepted.