New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

From snacks to skincare, Tesolife is a hidden gem

Take a trip through this Asian convenience store on St. Marks Place to find everything you never knew you needed.
Krish Dev
(Krish Dev for WSN)

Ask any NYU student to name their quintessential grocery spots, and you’ll probably get the usual suspects: Trader Joe’s, Target, Whole Foods Market and the rogue Wegmans. A few will mention H Mart, with its Third Avenue location that supplies late-night kimchi to nearby Alumni Hall and Third Avenue North residents. But an underdog lurks amid these big shot shops — the humble Tesolife.

This underground haven is filled with everything from skincare products to anime collectibles to an impressive array of ramen, rivaling that of its larger supermarket counterparts. Tesolife sits along the bustling street of St. Marks Place, its cheery storefront peeking out from a few feet below ground level. An LED cartoon monkey above the entrance beckons passersby.

If you descend the mini staircase and walk through its bright pink doors, you’ll enter a deceptively large space where everything is perfectly organized. A range of imported beauty products is featured on the displays near the front, with mirrors and makeup testers aplenty. Along the walls are rows of toys and collectibles, including “chibi” dolls and playing cards.

Walk further in and you get to Tesolife’s practical side with rows of toiletries, kitchen utensils and Asian skincare. Looking to have a glow-up? Pick up box dye and bleach. Need bowls for your dorm? Grab some from an array of cute and colorful options. Whatever it is, Tesolife has it.

The best feature, however, is one the store keeps far from the entrance — the mythical snack aisles. This section is innocuously positioned behind the shelves of plumping lip gloss and Doraemon pencil cases that one could easily visit multiple times without ever making their way to the very back.

You’ll reach the savory section first. Dried squid jerky and prawn crackers are nestled beside potentially more familiar bags of limited edition-flavored Lays chips. Chewy, crispy, spicy, salty, Tesolife has it— all you need to do is identify the root of your cravings.

Then, there’s the sweets section. Chocolate candy is a given, but there are also caramel, green tea and sakura flavored items. Arguably the most important part of this section, though, is an entire portion of the shelf dedicated to Pocky in flavors even H Mart can’t get a hold of.

If by some prodigious display of self-control you survive the sodium and sugar-laden displays without giving in, you must still face the refrigerated section. Condensation drips from holders of vanilla and matcha soft serve cones, and frosted soda bottles sparkle in a spectrum of colors.

What’s also captivating about this store is its unabashed, non-American straightforwardness. You would be hard-pressed to find a product out of place or a scuff of dirt on the tiled floor. The bright white lights and uncannily tidy shelves would appear clinical anywhere else.

In short, Tesolife is a college kid’s dream. Convenience and indulgence rolled into one at an affordable price, you will find that something other than what you came for will catch your eye. I’ve gone on a Tesolife run to pick up more Naive peach body wash and arrived at the checkout with an armful of various instant udon packets. Not once did I regret my shift in priorities.

Tesolife is filled with a reliable, nostalgia-inducing warmth that only manifests within Asian convenience stores. It provides what you need without frills and promises you’ll leave with items you never knew you wanted.

Contact Ranina Simon at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Krish Dev
Krish Dev, Multimedia Editor
Krish is a first-year planning to major in Computer Science and Linguistics at CAS. In his free time, he enjoys posting photos on @krish_dev.creations, obsessing over geography, watching new films with friends, taking public transport to new places and letting Arsenal make or break his week.

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