Best place for snail facials and blankets

Sacramento’s Koreatown and Smile Food Market

Photo by ryan donahue

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The stretch of Folsom Boulevard near Sacramento's Rosemont neighborhood is kind of what I imagine Wonderland would look like if Alice had been a high-school burnout that hung out with the Korean kids.

There’s the Eclectic Center, a strip mall with a whirligig roofline, painted in absurd yellows and pinks; a roller rink; and a place called the Blow Lounge, which isn’t as exciting as the name makes it sound (it’s a hookah bar).

This area is also home to the best Korean restaurants, shops and services in town.

And standing sentinel to Sacto’s humble K-town, just off Highway 50’s Bradshaw Road exit, is a store called Smile Food Market. For the uninitiated, the store is a wonder of sights and smells: a wall of freezers full of dried squid; bags of rice that could crush a small child; kimchee jars the size of a pony keg; whole aisles dedicated to varieties of dried seaweed and packaged ramen.

Outside on the street, there’s a sign that reads “Smile Home Shopping” and below it, “Korean Cosmetic & Blanket,” which refers to the home-goods store that went in next to the market a few years ago. It blends in seamlessly with the food market, but it is not to be missed, because inside, there are in fact a whole bunch of cosmetics and tons of blankets.

I know non-Koreans reading this right now are like, “Blankets?” But sleeping under the leaden weight of a good Korean blanket is a thing of beauty, imparting the sense that you might never escape from under its heft, which is really comforting, in a nihilistic kind of way.

The store is positively packed, hoarder-style, with bowls, spoons, rice cookers, foot spas, fitness hula hoops—you get the idea. And as for the cosmetics? The selection is vast, but my most exciting discoveries were the Snail Aquaring SOS Mask, made with “snail mucus components”; and the Placenta Revital Essential Mask, the description for which was very vague. Both were $3.99, so, it’s like, “Why not, right?”

You get way more adventure for your dollar here than a regular store. Alice would approve. 2948 Bradshaw Road, (916) 369-8543.