Updated: Oct 4, 2020
Going on trips to Costco has always been an adventure for us. Originally, there were not many Costco locations here in Korea, and most of them were around the Seoul region. 15 to 20 years ago, the only location in the southern half of the country was located in Daegu. Being from Ulsan on the south-eastern coast, it was quite a drive to that Costco location. It would often end up being almost a whole day including the drive there and back, and the shopping.
At that time, our main highway in the country was frequently very congested as there were fewer options in terms of roads to take around the nation and the main highway only had 2 lanes on both sides for a much of its length, particularly in the southern region. Also, because I was almost always going on a weekend, it was SO busy in the Costco. I wish I had some photos from those days because it was packed.
Later, Costco opened a location in Busan, which is about half the distance from Ulsan that Daegu is. Also, the government had constructed a new highway between Ulsan and Busan that went close to the neighborhood that the Busan Costco location was in. This made it a much better trip, as it would only take HALF a day to get there!
I think it was around five to six years ago that Costco opened a location here in Ulsan, and fortunately it’s only a fifteen-minute drive from where I am living now! This makes it so easy to go there. As Ulsan is smaller than Busan and Daegu with only about 1.2 million people living here and that I can go to Costco at non-peak times, it makes it so much easier to visit there. Before it was hard to go more than 5 or 6 times a year, and now I can go three times a week!
As fellow Costco shoppers know, they have the food court where you can find some quick and tasty meals at a reasonable price. However, there is also the deli area and the bakery where you can find some meals or desserts that you can take home and enjoy as well.
Here in Korea we have a number of different things that you can buy in the deli area, including some shrimp pasta, bulgogi meals, and what is called the Italian sandwich tray. I did some research and it looks like the Italian sandwiches can be found at Costco in many other countries but judging from the pictures it looks like the sandwiches are a little bit different.
There are the two varieties which seems to be pretty common in other countries. Here in Korea, there is a roast beef variety, as well as a ham version.
Taking a look at the package, you can see that there are essentially three full sandwiches inside, cut into halves. Each sandwich is made on what Costco calls a bistro bun.
The ham sandwich has a unique spicy flavor to it. The sandwich has a full half dozen slices of ham on it, so it is meaty and substantial. The cheese on it is the Kirkland Signature Swiss and American cheese slices. Added to the sandwich are the black olives and sauce which adds the kick to the meal. It is very hard to describe the exact flavor of the sandwich. It’s not hot spicy, but there is definitely a unique taste to it that the olives and sauce are adding.
The second sandwich is the roast beef with tomatoes and American cheese. This one is much more of a standard sandwich. The roast beef is also plentiful, and the tomatoes were quite fresh. There is a slight mustard sauce on this as well, although it is mixed with something else, so it is hard to distinguish the exact flavor. The roast beef is a little less ample in the serving size than the ham sandwich but given the price of beef here in Korea that isn’t really a shock.
If I had to choose, I would say that the ham variety in the Costco is a slight favorite of mine over the roast beef. While I do like the tomato on the roast beef sandwich, I find that the black olives and mystery sauce on the ham version of the Italian sandwich tray make it my favorite.
I hope some day that I can travel to the US and see how the Italian sandwich tray differs from the one in Korea.