Napa is a valley in California, but it is also a variety of cabbage which is fermented into a spicy starter and side dish in Korean cuisine.
Janice Leung gets herself into a pickle
Jinmi Cabbage Kimchi
With very little liquid, this is dry, despite its seemingly tightly sealed screw cap jar. Aside from cabbage, there are thin batons of carrot.
The correct slightly sour and salty, and spicy flavours are present - and there's even some sweetness - but instead of creating a complex flavour, it tastes artificial and empty.
HK$29.90, 400g, ParknShop, citywide
Chongga Bite Size Poggi Kimchi
Neatly chopped and stacked, these layers of cabbage leaves are quite salty, which makes them hard to eat on their own. The salt overshadows the otherwise nicely balanced spiciness and umami from dried fish. Used in soup, the saltiness is diluted; but then so are the other flavours that add complexity and fragrance.
HK$32.90, 280g, Wellcome, citywide
New World Mart fresh kimchi This is home-made, fresh and can be bought in smaller quantities. This sample seemed to be at the beginning of its fermentation: the cabbage stalks were opaque and the flavours hadn't quite mellowed out, particularly the chilli and the leeks, both of which attack the palate hard.
HK$20 (small tub, about 200g), New World Mart, 5 Kimberley Street, Tsim Sha Tsui
Il Pum Cabbage Kimchi
Rich with the flavours of dried fish and sesame oil, complemented by a moderate spiciness and tartness, this ticks all the boxes, although to some the yeasty taste might be a little off-putting. More crunchiness would be nice - there are small strips of radish scattered throughout, but they don't add much.
HK$30, 400g, New World Mart, 5 Kimberley Street, Tsim Sha Tsui
Tsukemono Studium Cabbage Kimchi
Not only does the company name mean Japanese pickles but the addition of rice vinegar, with its rounded, almost sweet taste, makes it clear this is not Korean. The mildly spicy cabbage is submerged in a jelly-like liquid and, although elegantly balanced, it lacks the vigour of its Korean counterparts.
HK$11.50 per 100g, City'super, citywide