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H-Mart Burlington!!!

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Just back from the mayhem (in a good way!) at the grand opening of H-Mart. Look forward to hear what others thought; but my wife and I were pretty blown away by the vast quantity and quality of all food/grocery/staple types. The crowds were immense and imagine this weekend will be super crazy; but highly recommend to all foodies for everything from meats, veggies, fruits, seafoods, prepared stuff, spices, condiments, noodles of all types, etc, etc., etc. One of the workers carving sashimi tuna from the actual whole fish gave us a special deal on toro for only $15/lb (compared to $30/lb after the initial opening festivities). Amazing quality across the board and prices are generally quite good (most meats, veggies, and fruits are a fraction of, say, Whole Foods). There was a nice selection of Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, and even American offerings along with the huge selections of the expected Korean and Japanese (although no bottled yuzu juice or higher end ponzu) musts. Expect to park far away during the rush!!! If you don't see what you want then definitely tell the manager: they are looking to please big time! As far as Asian markets in the greater Boston area this is quite simply the place to go.

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  1. I posted a fairly long report on this thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/639048. I saw the tuna and was sorely tempted.

    One thing that I will never forget was the Korean performance group, dressed up in what seemed to me to be Korean traditional outfits and playing what seemed to me might be traditional instruments, giving their rendition of God Bless America in front of the store. (Gongs, wailing recorder-like instrument, beating drum, like no version of God Bless America you have ever heard or probably even imagined.

    )

    Oh, and for anyone who does brave the grand opening crowds, after you leave the store hold onto your receipt and go to the tent in the parking lot. If you spend more than $50 you get a freebie item (what depends on how much you spend).

    1 Reply
    1. re: PinchOfSalt

      The selection is great. The prices are a bit high but there are good specials to be found. This market is similar to the Mitsuwa Japanese market in size (albeit a bit smaller) and scope.

      Later in the afternoon, H-Mart also had a clown making balloons for kids and a cotton candy machine. There was plenty of samples to go around from curry to potstickers to sashimi tuna to calpico yogurt drink.

    2. http://www.boston.com/business/ticker...

      1. D'oh, no yuzu juice?! That will hurt. One of the things I really wanted them to carry. :(

        1 Reply
        1. re: kobuta

          Do tell the manager you also want bottled yuzu juice...the more people request it the better the chance we can get them to stock it.

        2. It is wonderful! And crazy busy - i'd avoid the opening weekend rush unless you enjoy that kind of scene (and have plenty of time and patience). I enjoy that kind of scene immensely.

          I went this morning with my Korean mom, who was drooling over the huge seafood selection (deal - live blue crabs for 1.49/lb!). The produce is beautiful, bountiful, and mostly inexpensive - look for the specials (4 scallions for $1, string beans at .79/lb, enoki mushrooms .50/package, english cucumbers .79/ea). Some specialty Korean/Japanese items were considerably more expensive, but worth it to most homesick Koreans. And some specialty items were cheap, cheap - dduk for $2/lb, and big bunches of fresh kkaetnip for 50 cents! The fish and produce sections are large (triple the size of a typical grocery store?), there's also a big meat section, and a sizable prepared food section (mostly side dishes/banchan). The rest of the store is divided fairly equally into the following: Korean ingredients (dried beans, seaweed, ground peppers, course salts, pastes, noodles etc), Korean/Japanese convenience foods and mixes (calypso drinks, curry mixes, pancake mixes), Korean/Japanese frozen foods (dumplings, mochi ice cream), Misc int'l ingredients and convenience foods (Sriracha for 1.99 on sale, rice paper wrappers, indian spice mixes), American ingredients and convenience foods (sugar, chips, etc), and housewares (cleaning supplies, stone pots, comforters, expensive rice cookers). There was a tiny, tiny selection of bento supplies - nothing special or interesting.

          There are a couple fancy furniture sellers, a Hello Kitty shop, and a handbag shop. The food court is a bit cramped, with an Indian place, a Japanese place, and three Korean - one is traditional and serves mostly soup, one is Korean-style Chinese, and one is a Cho-cho's offshoot (from the Porter Exchange). We got takeout from the traditional Korean place, it was fine, nothing special. Next time I will skip it or try the Korean-style Chinese. There is also a fancy bakery which was pricey - looks so delicious, though.

          Compared to the local Korean markets (I usually shop at Reliable): the non-sale prices are about the same (maybe slightly less for some items, and sale items are cheap!), the selection is considerably larger, it's significantly cleaner, but way less convenient for me. I will try really hard not to shift too much of my Korean food shopping from the local Korean markets to H-Mart because I don't want the local guys to go out of business. I'm worried for them. I'd rather shift my Shaw's budget to H-Mart and keep all the Korean markets around!.

          Compared to Super88 in Allston/Brighton (during it's heyday, not in it's current sad state): H-Mart is more upscale (smells good!), has a larger produce selection but slightly more expensive, obviously way less Chinese items and more Korean (Super88 always had a pathetic Korean/Japanese selection), there are fewer cheap-o fun housewares but more super expensive appliances, and finally, the food court is way less interesting than Super88's.

          Compared to the H-Marts I've been to in NJ and Philadelphia, Burlington seems to have more international food - mostly Japanese (lots!), Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian. There seems to be a smaller selection of Korean items (like marinated meats, side dishes, dumplings, seaweed, hot sauce, etc) than in the other stores, which makes sense for the Boston area.

          If you live in the area, I think it's possible to do 90% of your regular grocery shopping at H-Mart (especially if you normally buy produce/fish/meat, and cook basic food from scratch). The quality is very good and it's a good value. If you are Korean (or crave Korean food), it's worth a long drive to stock up. Some convenience items and Korean specialty items might cost you, though.

          8 Replies
          1. re: tkdtkd

            You might want to update that "current sad state" comment about the Hong Kong Market (formerly Super 88) in Allston. You clearly haven't been in a while.

            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

              Ohhhhh burnnn!

              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                excellent - i guess it's been a month or two since i last checked - and it was depressing. i'll have to check it out! thanks.

              2. re: tkdtkd

                "I will try really hard not to shift too much of my Korean food shopping from the local Korean markets to H-Mart because I don't want the local guys to go out of business. I'm worried for them. I'd rather shift my Shaw's budget to H-Mart and keep all the Korean markets around!."

                Very thoughtful - I hope everyone will follow suit. I'd hate to see the smaller shops suffer.

                1. re: tkdtkd

                  Went there first time, it's a big zoo. A dozen or so police details were helping on directing traffic. Heard the neighboring Market Basket got mad at H-Mart's customers for parking in its lot.
                  A lot of food there. Picked up some baby-head sized Fuji apples, dry persimmons, very-well marbled short ribs (Gaabi $4.99lb), belt fish (from Korea, really good even though pricey at $10lb), small whole flounder @$2.49lb was not great more like sole, prob mis-labeled. etc.
                  Wanted to get some moon-cakes, at $9 a box but was told a mountain pile was sold out yesterday within an hour.
                  Way too crowded, esp. in the food court area. People eating cha chiang mian off the shopping cart. LOL.
                  Chines buns were good, so was the Masala chicken from the Indian stand (the poor guy, no one was buying except us)
                  Will check it out again when things are not so crazy.

                  1. re: weston

                    We ate lunch at the Indian Curry stand as well, primarily because of the lack of line. Finding a table was ridiculously hard. The food at the Indian stall was better than average mall food court Indian, but not as good as the Indian at the Burlington Mall food court (which is better than many sit-down restaurants in the area.) My daughter had sushi and gyoza from the Japanese stall. She liked it.

                    Tous Les Jours was out of red bean paste rolls when we got there. So sad.

                    Make sure if you go that you bring along the coupon flyer from the Boston Globe. There were some great deals, including a dozen free eggs if you spend $30. We picked up some giant oyster mushrooms (which seemed to be everywhere we turned), chinese chives, fresh bamboo shoots, and a variety of non-asian produce. Also a few fun frozen items (chinese pork buns, vegetable gyoza, mochi ice cream, little yogurt probiotic drinks), and a bunch of staples (chicken, ground beef, marinated beef, milk, OJ, juice, etc.) So really, just our regular grocery shopping plus some asian specialty items. It came to $140, which is about what I normally spend at Roche Bros. We got almost everything we would normally buy (except for cereal - not much in the way of American breakfast items) and bought some extras that we wouldn't usually get. I can't wait for the crowds to die down, though. it's a madhouse.

                    1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                      If you go to this page on the H-Mart website, you can print out the coupons - no Globe required!

                      http://www.hmart.com/company_new/shop...

                      Yes indeed, some of those deals are really good.

                      1. re: PinchOfSalt

                        Thank you and Eatin in Woostah for the coupon idea.
                        T-bone steak at $7.99 for choice grade is not exactly legit sales price.
                        Nothing to complain about free eggs though, lol.

                2. Thanks so much for the report!! I can't wait to visit - sounds like I'd want to bring a sleeping bag and take up residence there, hehe...

                  1. Um, this is heaven. I went at 8:30a this morning and it was thankfully not a madhouse.

                    Highlights:
                    - Fresh scone, baguette, and red bean bun from the bakery -- delicious. And warm! Bonus: their house blend black coffee is very drinkable.
                    - Blue crab at $1.49/lb.
                    - Love the scoop-your-own fresh shrimp (head on or off) and baby octopus
                    - Fresh lobster at $4.99 lb -- much livelier and healthier looking than those at the Super 88/Honk Kong Market
                    - Huge jar of citron honey tea base at about $4
                    -More inscrutable varieties of plastic tubs of ssamjang-looking pastes than I can possibly get through in a year. I look forward to trying them all!
                    -Many varieties of kimchi, even the kind that comes with oysters.
                    -Beautiful looking produce
                    - Nice-looking and interestingly marinated pork, chicken, and beef, ready for at-home Korean BBQ. When I cook mine up, I'll let you know how it is.

                    The not so great:
                    At the bakery, I hadn't put any actual groceries in my basket yet, but I did have my reusable bags (from WF, TJs, etc) in the cart. It wasn't very crowded, but there isn't a ton of room for carts up at the cashier station, so I parked it right behind me, inside the food court. I turned around for a half-second to pay the bakery people, and the damn cart was gone. I don't know if it was nefarious, or just opening weekend on-top-of-it-ness causing workers to put away seemingly abandoned carts (which this wasn't, but whatever). Annoying, for sure, but to H-Mart's credit, after I brought the issue to the attention of the customer service counter, one of the English-speaking dudes in a suit (perhaps a manager?) first offered to pay me for them, and when I declined, he insisted I take three of their H-Mart branded reusable bags to replace the three I'd lost. The folks were all very very nice, and while I wish I hadn't lost my original bags, I was very happy with the way they handled it.

                    I LOVE H-Mart. Surely, the backlash will soon begin, but let the haters hate. I am so so excited to have this place nearby. And with a TJ's in the next mini-mall over, this becomes a real destination. Now maybe when the crazy dies down a little, I'll be able to go during normal weekend lunch hours and try the food court.

                    1. Thanks All - Can't wait to visit.
                      Does anyone know their hours? Looking forward to an early Sunday morning visit to hopefully beat the crowds.
                      Hopefully.

                      Dewey

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: deweyweber54

                        http://www.hmart.com/company_new/shop...
                        8 am - 9 pm

                      2. clean, lots of new products that are not carried at the other markets, good prices on meat and seafood, the kimchee case (totally worth it we went through 2 containers of kim chee this week), everyone in the house loved the marinated meats I picked up (and so easy to throw on the grill), a good variety of other asian products and really nice staff. It was crowded but it was ok (the staff was madly restocking the entire time I was there). Definitely my new go-to asian market (I go to burlington every week anyway). I will still need to hit kam man or the super 88 in Malden once in a while to stock up on the unusual chinese or vietnamese products. The drinks section was really lacking. I also thought they would have a more substantial snacks section too.

                        Market basket is bound to crack down on the Hmart customers soon. Their parking lot had more hmart customers than MB customers (some guys in ties were giving me the evil eye when I came back with my groceries).

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: noodlely

                          Well there are signs at Hmart that say if you park at Market Basket your car will be towed. I went Sunday morning at around 9am and got a spot close to the store and ran to Market Basket for a few other things afterwards and there were a few cops standing near the entrance behind Market Basket when I was leaving. I assume they were there to stop people from parking there and crowd control.

                          1. re: tallen103178

                            must be a new sign... wasn't there last week. If that is going to be the case then people will stop shopping there b/c who wants to circle the parking lot for 30 mins?

                        2. Went there over the weekend...big store, mobbed, lots of great specials. Diverse food items. As with any other store, I'd be careful getting meat/fish items (check for freshness). They were giving out a ton of samples - miso soup, marinated chicken, noodles, fish balls, Korean pears, dried Asian persimmons, etc. etc.

                          We ended up spending about $60 on noodles, frozen dumplings, fruits/veggies, miso, tofu, chicken, etc. etc. and got a 6 pack of dried soup as a bonus for spending over $50. The prices, I think, other than the specials, were higher than what I would pay at C-Mart, but the selection of items is enormous.

                          My children got some Indian food at the little restaurant in the food court - the food was just ok. A ton of rice, somosas, chiken tiki masala, and a veggie dish. They were stingy with the condiments - I had to ask for tamarind sauce and green chutney (they only provided the onion chutney) - and would not give us cups so my kids could share the soda they got with the meal. And, getting a table there was craziness. Too many people for too few tables. The noodle dishes other people were getting from the other restaurants looked yummy. Oh, and the bakery items at Tous LeJours looked great too.

                          We parked in the Market Basket parking lot as we were directed to do so by the police detail working at H-Mart and actually finished up our shopping over at Market Basket.

                          14 Replies
                          1. re: nlg

                            Do they have the Chinese Spaghetti Factory Dumplings??? Can't find them ANYWHERE anymore!!!?
                            thanks

                            1. re: sinned61

                              Its further out, but China Merchandise in Burlington usually carries a whole freezer full of them. Galangatron might be able to say if one of the markets in Lynn has them too.

                              1. re: itaunas

                                i haven't seen them at any of the markets in lynn (se asian markets don't usually carry chinese dumplings) but you can find an ample supply of chinese spaghetti factory dumplings at any of the c-marts

                                1. re: galangatron

                                  They had the Chinese Spaghetti Factory dumplings at H-Mart. Didn't seem as if they had as many types as they have at C-Mart. I didn't bother getting any as I still have some at home from C-Mart. Instead, I got some interesting dumplings they don't sell at C-Mart.

                                  1. re: nlg

                                    thanks SO MUCH for the info! I used to get them at Super 88 in Malden (now Hong Kong Market)....Hong Kong has NONE!!! So surprised.
                                    Where exactly is China Merchandise?? I know where Hmart is, but have not been due to the nightmare stories on crowds. TIA

                                    1. re: sinned61

                                      China Merchandise is on Rt3A, probably about 2 miles west of Rt 128. Its in a strip mall across from some playing fields (you'll see a gas station on your right too just before it). Their actual selection of Chinese merchandise has diminished and been replaced with more Indian products, but within the month they had the dumplings.

                                      1. re: itaunas

                                        Cool THANKS

                                        1. re: sinned61

                                          I live in Burlington and get Chinese Spaghetti Factory dumplings there on a regular basis. They have several different kinds, including chicken and shrimp in addition to the standard pork. China Merchandise is across from Burlington High School.

                                          1. re: Kiyah

                                            GREAT to hear....I WILL visit them!

                                            1. re: sinned61

                                              sinned61 since I made a visit this past weekend, I can add a few more details. Right now they are carrying the mini-pork (same size bag as 50 regular but maybe 80pcs?) and pork (40pcs) for $3.99. For $4.99 they have the chicken and shrimp and pork and leek 50 pcs. They also had a bunch of wontons further down in the case (I think those have lesser turnover though, so make sure they are fresh). Slightly less freezer space and varities than before, no 100pc bags. Very minimal selection of refrigerated chinese products (probably 70% indian), but produce selection was decent and in good condition.

                                        2. re: itaunas

                                          More Indian products is exactly what I'm looking for. Is this shop before, or after, the Building 19?

                                          1. re: sablemerle

                                            If you're coming from 95 heading toward Billerica, it's on your right quite a bit before Bldg. 19. It shares a parking lot with Metro Credit Union, which is easier to see from the road. In addition to China Merchandise, there is also an Indian market that has been there a long time and just recently next door another Indian market opened that seems to have meats and fish, although I didn't see any on display when I did a quick walk-through.

                                            1. re: bear

                                              I have also glimpsed, but not yet visited, a Ganesh Market on the right before the Metro/C.M. plaza. I am assuming this is Indian, but if it's regional, etc., I have no idea. Actually I'm not even sure it's food.

                                              There's China Merch. in the far right corner, two Indian shops to its left and one on the right within that one L-shaped strip. The one on the right includes a Halal butcher.

                                              There's quite a variety among them of packaged food, and a small selection of fresh vegetables. You should be able to find whatever you need.

                                              China Merch. also has a variety of other Asian goodies. I was a bit concerned for this store with all the hoopla about H-Mart, but I think they'll survive.

                                              1. re: peregrine

                                                Yes, I've also seen Ganesh Market but have never stopped. The new place right next to China Merchandise advertises Indian fish and I believe, meat. I didn't see any, but did see a large saw in back and someone wearing a butcher's coat, so it could be in a fridge in a small room in the back. Looked very clean.

                            2. Does anyone know what the "long green hot peppers" are"? They have both red and green ones. Looked a bit like an Anaheim pepper. I was there at about 3:00 and just managed to get an parking spot in the packed parking area.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Ferrari328

                                Sounds like what are sometimes called longhorn peppers: in my experience, they're sharper-tasting than an Anaheim, but fairly mild. You see them sliced and cooked with various meats in some Asian restaurants.

                                1. re: Ferrari328

                                  Did they look like this?

                                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/61246842...

                                  These start out green and have good flavor and turn hotter as they turn red. I don't think they're Anaheim but maybe Thai bird??

                                  These grow faster than I can eat them or give them away; so I store them in vinegar.

                                  There's a lot of peppers and names out there, with some overlap, depending on what country is naming it. I'm not an authority but enjoy these and most peppers with heat.

                                  BTW, You can buy Chinese Spaghetti Factory dumplings on Essex St in Ctown, right next to Chau Chau City. Not a warm and fuzzy store but they'll sell to the public.

                                  1. re: 9lives

                                    Thai Birds are tiny -- these were about 4" long. Although a bit of searching reveals they're a varietal called (funnily enough) Korean Hot and are related.

                                    1. re: dtremit

                                      Mine don't generally grow to 4"..so I guess that rules out Thai bird..

                                      I have friends from both El Salvador and SE Asia; that both pick from my plant for cooking. I'll ask them waht the name they use for them next time I see them..:)

                                      I use them for anything from Thai Beef Salad..or cooked on a pizza, or stir fried, or...

                                      Great flavor!

                                      Sorry but not very helpful to Ferrari and his inquiry about the peppers at HMart.

                                2. There's a "Taiwan" basil in the H-Mart produce section that doesn't seem to have the licorice-like and minty smell of Thai basil. But then again, I think I may be coming down with a cold. Is this basil the same as Thai basil and just mislabeled? It looks different too, no purplish leaves and stems.

                                  1. Any fresh rice noodle sightings? I didn't see any in the fresh noodle section when I was there last week. Darn, I was hoping to have a source slightly closer to Waltham than Allston.

                                    Maybe when the dust settles, I'll suggest that they carry them.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: bear

                                      Are you talking about the wide, ribbon-like noodles used mostly by the Chinese in recipes such as chow foon or the much more narrow and somewhat (to my thinking) firmer noodles that show up in Vietnamese food? I think I may have seen the latter, but not the former, when I was there yesterday. Mostly what I saw in the fresh noodle area were wheat-based noodles like you would find in a Chinese market.

                                      Another thought. As I have been reading up on (and experimenting with) Korean recipes, I have found a number of references to "rice sticks". They seem to be very similar to or the same as the thick oval-shaped rice dough noodle-things that are occasionally in Chinese cooking. Apparently they are more popular in Korea. I saw quite a few bags of those kinds of noodles, frozen. Is that what you were looking for?

                                      1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                        Thanks for the response. I was specifically looking for the chow foon type noodles, which I used to get at Super88, and didn't see at Hong Kong last month. Since then, someone posted that Hong Kong has them, which is great. I was just hoping that HMart would have them, since it's a bit easier for me to get there.

                                        I also am a bit intrigued by the frozen oval rice "cakes" or whatever they are called. Dae Han in Waltham has several in the freezer case. I've also had them in a few dishes, and they are pleasantly chewy like fresh rice noodles. I'll have to investigate more.

                                        1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                          The rice ovals are sliced "ddeok" (or garaeddeok), which is indeed a tubular rice cake (kirimochi, in Japanese). They're most often found in ddeokbokki (stir fried with pepper paste, and usually fish cakes or sausages), and in ddeok guk (rice cake soup). Color, the little place on Harvard in Allston, recently opened my eyes to the idea of making ddeok&cheese, though, which sounds like a homey fusion food :)

                                          1. re: another_adam

                                            Sounds really good. I'll have to start learning more.

                                            1. re: another_adam

                                              Thanks for the info. I definitely have to try some recipes that call for ddeok. What you describe sounds like perfect comfort food, especially for chilly, damp weather. I don't know about fusion ddeok though, no matter how sensible the combination may sound; I like my ooey gooey crusty-on-top version of mac and cheese too much to stray. :-)

                                              BTW, I have been cooking from A Korean Mother's Cooking Notes and find myself slurping up every last drop. I suppose I ought to post about that over on Home Cooking...

                                              1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                Yes.. you should. [Please]

                                                1. re: smtucker

                                                  Heheh okay. I will have to arrange my thoughts. I have been doing extensive research on several recipes, especially Soft Bean Curd Stew. Tonight I tried a new one - braised fish - using pollock from my CSF share (distributed today, looked like it had been swimming this morning). Very easy, surprisingly tasty....

                                        2. Made the trip today for the first time and it is *still* jam packed on the weekend. Thhey now have the Market Basket parking lot entrance near the road that leads to HMart blocked off with sawhorses and a sign that says "No HMart Parking -- You Will Be Towed." Took about 20 minutes to get a parking place.

                                          The store is fantastic -- I was in awe of the selection and freshness of everything. I didn't get a chance to look at the food court in much detail since it, like everything else, was packed. Thrilled to find another source for Haiga rice, which I used to buy at Kotobukiya (they have it in the rice aisle, not the large format section). And I can't wait to eat my way through some of the more unusual stuff.

                                          Puzzled as to why kale was $8 for 3 ounces.

                                          The shopping experience -- less fantastic. The way they've laid out the store - especially the seafood section in the back -- makes it really hard to figure out the traffic flow. Combine that with a throng of people, sample tables for all sorts of food set up in the aisles, and people restocking shelves in the middle of the day, and it starts to feel like Market Basket without the sawdust. I spent way too much time just waiting to move -- I was worried my frozen food would melt before I got through the checkout.

                                          One thing I really appreciated is that the panchan section (which is huge) has English translations for everything -- a lot of delicious things I've been served in restaurants are mysteries to me, and it's nice to know what they are!

                                          Incidentally -- I was struck by the selection of seafood, which appeared to be very fresh and well priced. I was a bit confused, though, by a lot of what looked to be fresh fish that was marked as "Salted." Does anyone know what exactly that means? Is it just seasoned with salt, or are we talking something more serious? Or is it just saying it's saltwater fish? It looked just like nice fresh fish to me.

                                          Incidentally, the cashier next to me was asking the woman checking out if she'd found everything she was looking for, and when she said "almost everything" the cashier encouraged her to put in a request on the website for anything that was missing. Apparently they're still fine tuning the selection.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: dtremit

                                            Where was the panchan? I saw lots of sauces and pastes. I saw the largest selection of ramen. Even the salted fish case. :) Course I did get distracted by the large bakery selection. :)

                                            1. re: makonna

                                              In the back right, just walk through the produce section to the back

                                              1. re: Luther

                                                It's sort of tucked in the back corner -- where the last few food court stalls would be, if they went all the way to the back of the store.

                                          2. I went here on Columbus Day - foolishly at noontime. Duh. Still a packed parking lot; but after several swings through several aisles with no parking to be found, I went up the ramp to the Market Basket lot. It wasn't blocked off, no Burlington police or MB people standing there. Many, many other people doing the same thing.

                                            Now, I'll first say I know virtually nothing about all Korean (and many Japanese, Chinese, Thai, et al) ingredients and cooking, but I wanted to check it out - knowing I'd not know a lot of what I was going to see. I wasn't going to look for anything in particular; I was just exploring a new-to-me supermarket. I'm one of those weirdos who likes to check out supermarkets in other areas of the country. :-)

                                            After getting just inside the door, I knew this was going to be overwhelming for me, but I plowed on through the crowds, with just a basket on my arm. The food court was packed - and anyone eating in there left their filled shopping carts along the pallets of 50 lb. bags of rice - so navigating along that aisle in the produce section was extremely difficult. The smells coming from the food court were wonderful; got a few rumblies in my tumbly, as Pooh would say.

                                            The produce was amazing (to me) - lots of things I'd heard of but never seen. Will have to go back when it's not so crowded and make a small list of items in the produce section - sort of a "What's that and how do I use it?" list. Picked up some garlic, shallots and a few other basic things I needed, saw pomegranates for $1.29 each (vs. $2.99 or $3.99 in other local supermarkets), so I got 2 of those.

                                            Didn't venture into the prepared foods area, but the meat section had me fascinated for awhile...pig heart, pigs ears (thinking back to Top Chef challenges), and various other items not seen in "regular" supermarkets in this area. The seafood area in the back - wow, LOTS of great fish. One sign caught my eye - butterfish - which I've only had in Seattle, as I believe it's a West Coast fish and not often brought to the East Coast (I could be wrong about that, but don't recall seeing it on any menus here in Boston). Amazing fresh and frozen seafood selections.

                                            I basically stayed on the perimeter, except for going down two inner aisles for some shoyu and udon noodles. WAY better prices on udon than in standard supermarkets.

                                            Got onto the express checkout line; asked the woman in front of me if she'd been to H-Mart before and if it was SOP as to the crowds...she hadn't yet been to this store except that day, but says the one in Baltimore is WAY more crowded. The guy doing the bagging said their opening weekend was absolutely insane - there were 3 accidents in the parking lot on just the opening weekend (I'm not surprised based on where I saw cars parked - on the grass, on the sidewalks, everywhere).

                                            I will definitely go back, perhaps on a weeknight - would love to have someone alongside me to tell me what is in all the packages that aren't well marked. I'm a definite beginner when it comes to many of these ingredients.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              Butterfish is a common New England fish, but one that a lot of people overlook because of bone/skin to flesh ratio and a lot of it is shipped out of the area. I have bought some really nice butterfish at the Chelsea MB in the past, although as I mentioned on another thread I have had much less luck with whole fish in the new MB.

                                              1. re: itaunas

                                                Would it be called something else in a restaurant, itaunas? Or just not offered on menus? or maybe I'm just not going to the restaurants that *do* carry it. :-)

                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                  You might see it or a similar fish in restaurants as Pomfret. For a restaurant I know serves it, Qingdao Garden, and pretty certain I have seen it or a similar fish at Shangri-la.

                                                  1. re: itaunas

                                                    Neither of which I've been to. Thanks.

                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                    I highly recommend the crispy butterfish at Wang's. It is very simply prepared with a light coating of salt and then deep-fried until crispy and tender (you forget about the bones and skin).

                                              2. went at lunch time yesterday. For once there was plenty of parking in their lot (and when I left there was even more). I was able to get lunch in less than 10 mins (unlike previous 30-45 mins wait). The lack of drinks and snacks are starting to get annoying. I am so used to kam man's huge drinks aisle and 2-3 separate snack aisles. Other than I have been able to find my usual chinese/vietnamese groceries (I actually found all of our usual vietnamese groceries but some of the chinese stuff I usually get I found a korean alternative). I really like the kim chee section (though you really have to check the dates most of the stuff out yesterday had a sell by date of the same day or today). It is great to have it fresh every week and I can't believe I am getting really sick of Korean BBQ from the marinated section. Its an easy go-to when I am busy and its fairly cheap there.
                                                The bakery is really nice but really expensive. For instance the same bun I pay 60-80 cents for in a chinese bakery costs $2-$2.25 there.
                                                They really have to do something about the produce. They have beautiful produce when it is first put out there but most of it is wilted. Plus the bean sprouts look like they are turning every time I go there.
                                                What is up with the white folks ranting while they are still in the store about Korean people and food? You don't see Korean folks complaining at stop and shop that they don't carry kim chee? I have had to listen to someone complaining the last 2 times I was there.

                                                5 Replies
                                                1. re: noodlely

                                                  This white person definitely does not rant about Korean people and food. Trips to H-Mart are a treat. Yesterday I even ran into another Hound there.

                                                  You never know what you are going to find at H-Mart. Yesterday it was some "premium" oyster sauce whose first ingredient really was oyster extract. Yay! I can't wait to try it. I notice in the sales flyer for the week starting today that lobsters are 4.49 a pound. I know what will be on my dinner plate. :-)

                                                  I agree about the produce being lovely when they put it out and wilting soon after. I think they have a low humidity problem and it is pretty clear that they know it. I have seen H-Mart employees spraying down the produce but that is not sufficient. They probably really do need the auto-misting produce displays that you seen in some supermarket chains. I predict there will be a solution found. Certainly the store has plenty of customers; H-Mart should be in the position to invest in a fix.

                                                  Every time I go, I see they are stocking more and more southeast asian produce and ingredients. Have you noticed that too?

                                                  1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                    much to my delight there are definitely more south asian products!
                                                    Someone needs to open a boba shop there... and I think a vietnamese deli would do fantastic in the food court. There are tons of vietnamese and khmer folks in the lynn/malden area and h-mart is a short hop from lowell. Even though battambang in lowell does a fantastic job stocking traditional south-asian groceries H-mart is a nice change with more american and asian-american groceries.

                                                    4.49 a pound for lobster!!! I think it is time for lobster hot-pot in our house this weekend :)

                                                    1. re: noodlely

                                                      Well, there is that empty spot next to the Korean stall in the food court. And, unfortunately for the people that run it, how long can that Indian stall stay open with so few customers?

                                                      The one thing that H-Mart does not have and which I would expect to find is cooking oil in large units. At C-Mart or Mings or Super-88 (in its day) you could get a big jug of peanut for a reasonable price. Okay, Koreans do not use oil as much as the Chinese do, but all of the cooking oil that I could find at H-Mart (near the vinegar and corn/rice/malt syrup areas) was in bottles the same size as you would expect in an American supermarket.

                                                      Or maybe I need to look in another part of the store?

                                                      1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                        Bought 1.5 liters of peanut oil at HKM Allston for about $18 weekend before last.

                                                        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                          Thanks, BFP, at least I know I can still go there when I need more peanut oil.

                                                2. First visit was Thursday, 10/15 and I scored two huge beef tenderloins priced at $4.99 lb.
                                                  Couldn't believe my eyes!! Tucked them in the freezer for a future festive meal.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: random amblings

                                                    Anyone have experience with the freshness of the fish? They were selling Chilean Sea Bass for $9.99 lb. and at WF it is about $24 per lb.

                                                    1. re: bakerboyz

                                                      We have tried their fish on several occasions and have been disappointed with its quality. I don't think ours is an isolated experience; my in-laws and their friends also have had bad experiences with the fish. There are many other reasons to keep going to H-Mart, but for us, the seafood is not one of them.

                                                      1. re: tigerswims

                                                        Are you referring to freshness, or other criteria?

                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                          The freshness in particular. Granted, a fair proportion of our purchases have been the previously frozen fish, which obviously won't be spanking fresh, but compared to previously frozen fish that we buy elsewhere (even our local Stop and Shop), it smelled fishy and tasted like it had been lying around for a while.

                                                          However, I neglected to mention the first time that the Chilean sea bass was actually quite good. I think one difference between the H-Mart and WF Chilean sea bass is that H-Mart includes the bones - at WF, it's been deboned.

                                                  2. I was just wondering how things are nowadays, crowdswise and inventorywise, in the evening on the weekend. I'm thinking of coordinating an outing, but my partner in crime is not a big fan of Korean market mayhem, either in the parking lot or the aisles. (We had our trial-by-elbow in the big markets of LA; I survived, but after one too many parking lot dings, he decided that going during peak times was not for him)

                                                    It occurred to me that during or after dinner might be tolerable, but I was just curious what people's recent experiences were, since unfortunately, going on a weekday isn't an option for us...

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: another_adam

                                                      Someone told me that Sunday morning around 10am would be a good time.

                                                      I asked why then and they said something about Church for the Korean people and it
                                                      may be less crowded. I haven't trired it yet though, so I don't know if it's true.

                                                      1. re: mcel215

                                                        Oh, that's an interesting point. I never really found this to be the case in LA (churches have such diverse meeting times, it seems), but it sounds like this suggestion was made with specific knowledge of the area!

                                                        I ended up going to Super88/HK market last night instead and actually found a couple new Korean items I'd never seen before, even in the manhattan H-Mart! They had really cute star-shaped ddeok for ddeokbokki, and mysterious kimchi-flavored danmuji/takuwan. (The latter was actually a chinese product) Things there are really beginning to look up- they have lots of things that Super88 never had even at its peak. There are still lots of things that I'm looking forward to H-Mart for-- stuff that the small local Korean markets simply don't carry or charge ridiculously much for-- but it seems like the number of H-Mart specific needs is gradually shrinking a bit.

                                                        1. re: mcel215

                                                          Confirmed - I went to H-mart at 10am this morning (Sunday) and the parking lot was 1/2-empty and the store was empty enough to push a shopping cart.

                                                          1. re: spicyivan

                                                            Nice to know that my source was correct! I bet she shops there at that time.

                                                      2. I stopped by H-mart last week and was awed (and a little intimidated) at the selection. As someone who loves going out for Korean food but has no idea how to cook it, I found this website helpful albeit a little silly: http://www.maangchi.com/recipe Anyway, I found the Korean marinated chicken we bought was really tasty, and can't wait to try some other things. The food court was also closed before 8pm, so hopefully next time I can try it as well. I agree with another poster that a milk tea stand would be fabulous!

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: madscientist

                                                          I went this past Saturday night about 6 pm. It was a mad house. I would suggest avoiding weekend nights. Mornings are better.

                                                          Also, a warning regarding the fish, there is a sign that says that they can prepare fish five ways. However, I asked them to do number 3, which is cut into a fillet. I was told that everything but number 3 is done. If you want fillet, you have to buy the fish that are already filleted on the right side.

                                                          1. re: bulldog69

                                                            Went this past Tue. Sea bass was very good, frozen albalon at $16/lb. The Kaya bun at the bakery is the very very good, authenic kaya with pandan & coconut flavor, the Kaya buns in Chinatown should not use the name Kaya.

                                                        2. Good news about the parking situation. Two employees told me that H-Mart is arranging for 450 additional spots over by the Burlington Mall. (I am not sure exactly where.) I believe there will be some kind of shuttle van. No word when this plan will be in place, but it is something to look forward to.

                                                          P.S. I thought I posted this a little while ago but it isn't here. maybe I did not click the post button. If for some reason this topic is not appropriate and my post was removed, my apologies to the mods. I just want to make sure people hear the good news if that is allowable.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                            That's good news, I guess. I noticed that the parking lot was packed, with the police again directing, even in what would have seemed to be off hours during the day today.

                                                            I have managed to go three times--and aborted the mission at least two times because of the traffic jams. I have also managed to eat in the food court. (Note that the usual strategy of arriving before noon doesn't work!) I sure wish I knew what people were eating around the day it opened--it looked kind-of like dark chips of tendon heaped on rice. I may be totally wrong, since I just saw this in passing, but many people seemed to have that. Nothing I see on the menus, which have areas blocked out, look like what I saw.

                                                            I also got a number of items at the bakery. They all seemed to look a lot better than they tasted for me, but then I tend to like bold flavors. :-)

                                                            1. re: ErstwhileEditor

                                                              I'm headed back within the next few days for some marinated beef, pork and chicken. A friend was very happy with hers, for something like $2.99/lb.

                                                              I wish the bakery used butter instead of margarine, though.

                                                              1. re: ErstwhileEditor

                                                                First time I went it was a Thursday afternoon @ 3pm. Had no trouble finding a parking space.

                                                            2. Went for the first time last Sunday.

                                                              The parking situation was completely ridiculous and will make me think twice about going again except on a week day.

                                                              The store was just like the one in Chicago (and, I imagine other places as well).

                                                              I was pleased at the quality, cleanliness and selection but surpised at the prices. Much higher for things like fish sauce and noodles than, say, Kam Man.

                                                              My take is that I'll head to HMart when I need Korean, as they obviously carry a huge array or Korean products, but for my everyday asian needs Kam Man is much cheaper and more accessible.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                I was in the neighborhood for a work errand and so popped in around 11:30 thinking to grab something for lunch and maybe dinner later this weekend. I was a little surprised to see a police detail directing traffic in the parking lot on a weekday, BUT did find a spot right away. Brought home a chicken katsu with udon soup for lunch and two packets of frozen red-bean buns for snacks and lunch next week. Was too overwhelmed to go further but I'll be back next week and may explore further...

                                                                Katsu and udon soup (from the food court) was delicious and a very generous portion for $8

                                                                1. re: heathermb

                                                                  i tried it this weekend. What a mess!!!! the parking situation is out of control! This place was so packed inside it was difficult to move because of all the carirages and kids running around. Besides that, everything in there looked great! I did not shop enough to compare prices. I will not go back there unless a weekday/ weeknight or early in the morning.

                                                              2. I went there twice, and I bought something bad on both occasions.

                                                                The first time we got king fish, and it tasted unfresh. The vegetables looked fresh and healthy, but they were tasteless.

                                                                The second time we got 2 boxes of organic tofu, one box tasted fine, the other box tasted sour. And of course the tofu was served to visitors before I realized it was bad.

                                                                I can understand I can't really blame the store if the customers just misplace the items. But it has nothing to do with me paying the same amount of money in return for food that has gone bad.

                                                                I may continue to visit the store for dry non-perishable items. Fresh / wet food - no way.

                                                                1. Anything particular that gluten-free vegans should look for at H-Mart? We haven't been but were given a gift certificate so plan to go check it out.

                                                                  22 Replies
                                                                  1. re: lgss

                                                                    Rice? Also there are some vegetables that aren't often seen in the area.

                                                                    1. re: lgss

                                                                      Id look at all the starches. Waterchestnut, acorn, tapioca etc...
                                                                      all sorts of rice noodles, sweet potato noodles, rice cakes, rice flours
                                                                      lots of produce

                                                                      1. re: lgss

                                                                        Maybe hit or miss, but I do like their selection of fruit, especially the Korean kind. I love Korean pears, and the giant Fuji apples. Yes, you still need to take the same careful eye to make sure you're getting a good box.

                                                                        I agree with the rices and noodles. I enjoy their selection of panchan and kimchee. I had a really good batch of frozen dumplings (mine had meat, though I'm sure you'll find meatless varieties).

                                                                        If you're looking for cookware and kitchen implements, they also have a decent and reasonably priced selection of rice cookers, water dispensers, nabe pots, etc.

                                                                        1. re: kobuta

                                                                          We buy alot of frozen dumplings there, have yet to get a bag that we didnt enjoy. They do have some that are meatless. Kimchi and various veggie fillings. However i dont think i saw any that would have gluten free skins.

                                                                          1. re: hargau

                                                                            Careful with kimchi--this weekend I was about to serve a guest a bowl of kimchi stew, and she asked me to double check the ingredients since she is allergic to shellfish. I dismissed the idea, and was just about to make fun of her, but took a quick peek at the jar and sure enough, it contained both oyster sauce and salted shrimp, despite my not buying the one labeled as being oyster flavored. Not sure if those are common flavorings in kimchi, but just a reminder to check the ingredients even for seemingly vegetarian preparations.

                                                                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                              Good point on the kimchee. I believe traditionally it is made with shrimp, though the oyster flavoring is new to me. Makes me wonder if they do have a vegetarian kimchee of sorts.

                                                                              1. re: kobuta

                                                                                We didn't find vegan kimchi at H-Mart but WFM carries one brand, Sunja's, that is.

                                                                                1. re: lgss

                                                                                  I bought King's brand kimchi at Shaw's last night and it has all vegetable ingredients. I haven't tried it yet though, so I'm not sure if it's as good as the fish-based stuff. Not that I think subtleties will be too noticeable in a stew.

                                                                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                    Interesting, the website does claim it's vegan.
                                                                                    http://www.kingsasian.com/aboutkimchi...

                                                                                    1. re: lgss

                                                                                      I forgot to post back about it. Not nearly as good as the stuff with fish in it. Extremely tart/vinegary and not a lot of depth of flavor. An okay substitute in a pinch but side-by-side with the real stuff there was no question.

                                                                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                        It might be that the kimchee has gone "sour". My experiences from non-Korean markets are that most places keep kimchee way past when they should be sold that it has over-matured. Sometimes you can smell it through the packaging.
                                                                                        Hmart really has a decent selection of kimchee. They have freshly packed kind as well as pre-packed kind. I also like the cubes radish kimchee (ggakdoogi) that comes in plastic bags. Does not look as nice as the ones that are packaged in pastic boxes, but very yummy and the radish kindness tend to keep better than the napa cabbage ones. Just wish they had cucumber kimchee (sobaegi). I had not been able to pick up one there.

                                                                                        1. re: samsoon

                                                                                          They do have cucumber kimchi; it's usually in those 3 big vats that you have to have the store personnel dish up for you...Those bulk ones are definitely more "korean"...They seem to have a little more maturity to them...;)

                                                                                          1. re: galleygirl

                                                                                            I have purchased cucumber kimchi in jars at H-Mart in the past. It's been a while though. Love the stuff!

                                                                                            -----
                                                                                            H-Mart
                                                                                            3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

                                                                                            1. re: galleygirl

                                                                                              I buy the cabbage and daikon kimchis from the big vats. Im never sure how long it can keep in the fridge though. Does it go bad? My last batch of Daikon kimchi created some serious gasses. The plastic container they put it in would blow open every day or two in the fridge with a loud pop!

                                                                                              1. re: hargau

                                                                                                The red "winter" kimchis can last quite a long time (semi-indefinitely, really), but they get more sour and "limp" over time. And yes, you may need to let some of the built up pressure escape!

                                                                                                I personally like radish kimchi when it's still quite fresh and crunchy, so I try to buy or make it in smaller batches and use it more quickly. I find that for some reason it's generally already quite fermented by the time it hits the stores in Boston- even more so than cabbage kimchi. (And unlike cabbage, there also aren't so many cooked dishes that call for a healthy portion of extra-fermented radish kimchi to use up the extra sour batch in the fridge...)

                                                                                                1. re: another_adam

                                                                                                  Beg to differ...I only use the REALLY ripe s&^t in my tofu kimchee chigae. Anything super-ripe will do. It flavors the broth beautifully, especially when I throw in some dduk (sliced rick cake) in there to temper the spiciness/saltiness. Yum.

                                                                                                  1. re: digga

                                                                                                    Haha fair enough :) I always keep around some very sour kimchi if it's cabbage, chives, perilla, etc., for cooking, but I personally don't care for kkaktugi when it gets very limp and sort of "translucent", and I'm always kind of disappointed with the store-bought ones that are already on their way there...

                                                                                2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                  This is very true - kimchi is usually made with some sort of fermented seafood to get it started. It's called "jeotgal" (젓갈), and there's a whole section of jeot's at H-Mart. The specific one that they use can vary - sometimes clam, or anchovies, or shrimp, or oysters. It looks our default brand (the big buckets of Tobagi) uses a combination of shrimp, anchovy, and oysters.

                                                                                  It's definitely possible to make delicious kimchi without these- in fact, there's a category of "Buddhist cuisine" that specializes in this. I'm not sure whether any are commercially available in this area, though...

                                                                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                    I think you should check the ingredients of all Asian products if you have a specific diet no matter what the name suggests. I once bought a pack of Japanese vegetable gyoza from Kotobukiya. I thought it was suitable for vegetarian and guess what, it has pork fat in it.

                                                                              2. re: lgss

                                                                                If you like miso and other soy products, you might enjoy the Korean version of miso (dwenjang), which can be made into a stew with tofu (dwengjang jjigae)- most recipes start with anchovy broth, but you can easily use seaweed broth. (Just buy a package of kombu-style kelp)

                                                                                Or, for an even more delicious and hearty, but potentially challenging, version, pick up a package of cheonggukjang, which is a less fermented and stronger, heartier, chunkier version that's more like natto, but crushed up into a paste, with some chili pepper in it. It's sold in small units in plastic cling wrap in the kimchi/deli section. If you enter the little section with kimchi on one side and meat on the other, it's on the back wall, towards the left; I believe it's called "fermented soy bean" or something like that, or cheonggukjang, or 청국장 in Korean. It makes a great thick stew with water, a little diced up kimchi, scallions, tofu, and a few slices of hot pepper. (The stew is also often made with a bit of pork, but that can easily be skipped; you'd hardly even notice the difference) You can also make it even more hearty in the winter by boiling first a bit of chopped up daikon or potato--great in this cold weather! A bit of warning, though: the smell of the cheonggukjang is very strong, so be prepared for your house to smell like it unless you take special precautions. Some people really hate it, too; the best indicator, I think, is if you like natto, you'll like it.

                                                                                1. re: lgss

                                                                                  It just occurred to me that another product you might like to try is acorn jelly (dottori muk)- it's just acorn starch, cooked with water and a little bit of oil, until it thickens and sets. You can buy it pre-made in the deli/kimchi section, to take home and slice and eat with a small drizzle of dipping sauce (soy sauce mixed with vinegar, or a chilli-garlic-vinegar-soy sauce; or, looking for "vinegar pepper sauce' in the pepper sauce aisle) You can also look for a bag of the acorn starch in the flour/starch aisle, to take home and cook on your own. It's quite easy, but you have to stir for a long time while it's getting hot and thick, and then you put it in a pan to set.

                                                                                  1. re: another_adam

                                                                                    We saw this but didn't buy it.

                                                                                2. How's the parking situation on weekends these days?? Is it still a mess?

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: MedChow

                                                                                    I was there this past Sunday around 2:00 pm. There are giant signs in the Market Basket lot indicating no parking for H-Mart. There were 2 police officers directing traffic near the entrance of the H-Mart lot and directed me right to a perfect spot. It was crowded, but much less so than when they first opened.

                                                                                    I got some great frozen mussels, scallion pancakes and octopus flavored potato chips, amongst other things. Fun!

                                                                                    1. re: Frank Enbean

                                                                                      Remember, there is a back way in.. and out..

                                                                                      1. re: grant.cook

                                                                                        The back way was blocked off by an officer last time I went. I've been going around 8:00 in the evening and at that time the situation isn't too bad. Unfortunately the stock seems to be a bit picked over at that time--I've been unable to find some of the items I was looking for, which I'd found on previous visits. So maybe it's better to brave the parking nightmare...

                                                                                        1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                          Wonder why they're blocking off the Concord Road entrance? Perhaps it just puts the parking into more of a tizzy to have people coming in from that area?

                                                                                          ETA: I wonder if that's the truck delivery entrance? That would definitely screw up traffic if shoppers were trying to get in/out with various 18-wheelers as well.

                                                                                          1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                                                            Hmmm.. I've used it to get out, perhaps they are more restrictive about people getting in..

                                                                                      2. re: MedChow

                                                                                        We went a few weeks ago on a friday around 7:30 in the evening. The parking lot was 1/2 full. Plenty of spots. In fact we could have even parked in the front section of the lot near the building if we wanted to. Food court was mostly empty. Stock was fine.

                                                                                      3. Over 4 months since they opened, I finally made it to H-Mart last evening at 6:30, and was there for about an hour. The parking lot was fairly full, but I require a handicapped space and there were open slots. I could have used a tour guide/translator - there wasn't much bi-lingual labeling. I was there mostly as a tourist, to get the lay of the land.

                                                                                        I know that most of the produce is out of season, but was a little disappointed with the greens. Almost everything was a little limp, and pre-bagged in amounts that are too large when you are buying something unfamiliar, without a particular recipe in mind, to see it you like it. The fresh fruit was mostly standard supermarket offerings.

                                                                                        This is clearly the place to shop the next time I want to make stock - there's a wide assortment of frozen bones, feet, and offal. The seafood case is jaw-dropping in its variety - there was very little fishy smell in the area, which I take as a good sign of quality, although I did not need anything this trip.

                                                                                        I stumbled upon a few things that I wanted, like dried mushrooms, panko, and a pancake mix that I'm curious about. There was plenty of friendly and helpful staff around, so I could have asked where the ghee was, but my knees screamed at me that this was not the time to traipse to the other end of the store for something.

                                                                                        In the food court, I had a large and tasty chicken tikka wrap, in a toasted naan. It was packed with tender chicken and crunchy bell peppers, greens, and tomato, in a nice dressing. As others have mentioned, the Tous Les Jours bakery section was pretty bare at the end of the day. I brought home an apricot puff-pastry type Danish that looked pretty but was too sweet with not much fruit flavor.

                                                                                        The prices on items that were familiar to me were on a par with Market Basket, so lower than the other chain supermarkets in the area.

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                                                          Did you get one of the Korean Kim Chi Pancake mixes? We buy one there in a large pouch that is fantastic. Just the mix and some kimchi and/or scallions and its as good or better than any i have had in the restaurants

                                                                                          1. re: hargau

                                                                                            No, Morinaga pancake mix, which is the subject of a couple of threads on the GCT board. Therein is a link to the English translation of the directions, which is very funny. Sounds like the action sequence from a ninja movie.

                                                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                                                              I've been VERY disappointed with the produce at H Mart lately. Nasty looking eggplants, really old ginger (and all prepackaged, not loose), generally iffy looking stuff. Not happy.

                                                                                              1. re: bugsmum

                                                                                                We generally have not bought a lot of veggies there for that reason, though on occasion we see some good deals and better products. I prefer some of their fruits (i.e., giant Korean pears) but have not been inspired by their greens at all.

                                                                                                We go there mainly for everything else.

                                                                                            2. re: hargau

                                                                                              I usually pick up potato-based pancake mix. I like it better than the normal mixes because it is slightly more chewy (less falling apart feeling). I like mine with a defrosted package of seafood and scallions or kimchee. I like varying the greens I put in depending on what is fresh.

                                                                                          2. I vntured back to H-Mart yesterday around 11:30am, with two friends visiting from Maine and Vt.
                                                                                            I was very surprised that the police detail was no where in sight and there were parking lot was almost full, but still had spots pretty close to the entrance.

                                                                                            I noticed a change in the produce, with a lot of it in plastic bags. But, I got a very large bag of baby bok choy for $2 dollars and a huge amount of fresh ginger for $1 dollar. The scallions were five, very fresh bunches for $2 dollars and broccoli, carrots, leeks all very inexpensive.

                                                                                            This time I ventured into every corner of the store (we spent 2hrs in there), and there were tons of people cooking and handing out samples. Two great items, pork dumplings and scallion pancakes. The dumplings were 3 packages for $10 dollars. I can't remember all of the prices, but I bought a ton of stuff and spent a mere $30.00 dollars. They had a demo of cooking chilean sea bass, and giving out samples. I bought a piece of fish, which was fresh and seasoned with Krazy Jane's seasoning. It was $9.99 a pound and the pieces were from 1/2lb to 3/4 lb each.
                                                                                            I lucked out that my friend's mother is from Japan, so she had some experience with items like panko and sesame oil for me. While not any cheaper, I feel the quality is probably better. I also stopped at the bakery and got some red bean buns.
                                                                                            It was a great trip. Now at least I know when I go hopefully to beat the crowd. :)

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: mcel215

                                                                                              By 4pm yesterday the police detail was back, and the store was pretty crowded. This was my first trip to HMart, and I'm glad I went, though I went more to look around than stock up. Produce quality seemed to vary--I got some shitake mushrooms and scallions, plus tofu. All of the tasting was interesting, though as a fishitarian, I didn't get to participate in much of it! I'll definitely go back in the future.

                                                                                            2. I was at H-Mart today for only the second time, 13 months since my previous foray there. The condition of the greens was a little better than before, but the produce section, like most of the store, is not easy to navigate for those of us who aren't very familiar with Asian groceries. The obvious stuff like apples and oranges were all labeled, but certain of the exotic roots and such had no signage at all. Prices in produce varied wildly. Honeycrisp apples at $1.99/lb and Spanish onions at 49 cents/lb were less than at my regular supermarket, but eggplant at $1.19 was no bargain, nor was most of the produce familiar to Westerners. Ground pork at $1.99 was a deal, but other pork prices seemed a little high. Definitely good deals in the fish section - the bags are outside in the cold and I haven't sniffed yet. It seems that like any supermarket, you can find bargains if you search for them, but do not assume that everything is cheaper at H-Mart.

                                                                                              There's just SO much variety there - the packaged goods aisles are overwhelming. I noticed a box of seasoning called "Vermont Curry" - big letters on the label touting apple and maple in the mix. I was on the hunt for Tiparos Fish Sauce, hard to find amongst the at least 3 aisles labeled Fish Sauce - I did succeed, but only because I know what the label looks like.

                                                                                              It would be nice to do a Chow Tour of H-Mart. Is there anyone well-acquainted with Asian ingredients who'd be willing to lead a guided tour?

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                                                                                              H-Mart
                                                                                              3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

                                                                                              10 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                One of my roomates in grad school was Chinese-American. She always bought the Vermont Curry mix to make chicken curry - it was her family's staple. She grew up in San Diego so I don't know if it's a regional thing.

                                                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                  If memory serves, Vermont Curry is actually one brand of a number of similar Japanese curry products that come in a variety of flavors and degrees of heat. I have seen Vermont Curry and other brands in other Asian grocery stores in our area (for example Super 88/HKM).

                                                                                                  1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                                                    Ebisuya in Medford also has a bit of a selection of curry sauces. It's kind of strange stuff, from a culinary point of view; very different from Indian curry. I gather that it came to Japan via the British, so it's probably more similar to the various bottled masala sauces that you can buy in the UK. It's interesting to note that the Japanese word for it is "kare sasu," and when served with rice it's "kare risu" -- you don't use the usual Japanese words for "sauce" or "rice."

                                                                                                    As a complete aside to this aside, Blue Fin in Cambridge has a really tasty dish of deep-fried chicken cutlets doused in a mild curry sauce, all sitting on top of a huge bowl of rice and accompanied by a few types of Japanese pickles. While not even remotely healthy, this dish is a serious contender for best hangover food ever invented.

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                                                                                                    Blue Fin
                                                                                                    1815 Massachusetts Ave # 1, Cambridge, MA

                                                                                                  2. re: greygarious

                                                                                                    After bringing the grocery bags inside, I put the whole flounder (they'd removed head, fins, and tail as requested) in the refrigerator with a freezer pack on top of it. I took it out to fry it 24 hours later - still completely odor-free, and firm, so I am very happy with the quality.

                                                                                                    I had bought crab cakes from the hot prepared food case in the house-made kim chee section at the right rear of the store. They were scrumptious - like a cross between a pancake and an omelet, also had chive or onion, and not-too-hot peppers. I'm sure there's a Korean name for these but I am largely ignorant on the subject of Korean food.

                                                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                      Sounds like they were crab jeon? I made some of those for dinner last night -several eggs,crabmeat, and just a bit of flour. I didn't know they had them ready-made at HMart - too many things to see, too easy to miss something :-)

                                                                                                      FWIW I'd be up for shopping sometime - not an expert but I have a few things that are my favorites there.

                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                        It does sound like crabstick pancakes (matsal jeon)- a lunchbox favorite! I didn't know they had them pre-prepared either. They're also super-easy to make, if you stock up on some crab stick in the frozen section and some green onions and Korean peppers (gochu) in the produce section. You can make them with eggs and flour, or get some "frying powder" (twigeum garu) from the powders aisle, which is a fine flour that already has some baking powder, salt, etc. in it. (There's also specifically pancake mix, but that's less versatile in the pantry than frying mix...)

                                                                                                        1. re: another_adam

                                                                                                          another_adam, can I nudge you into going on an HMart tour? You made such great suggestions for my Seoul trip last spring and I'd love to see what your picks are at the Mart.

                                                                                                          1. re: gimlis1mum

                                                                                                            Yes, I'd be willing to offer whatever insights I have! I'm really only of any use with Korean and Japanese products, though--not anything from China or Southeast Asia (except filipino-which, actually, H-Mart does have some of, but not a whole lot)

                                                                                                            I unfortunately don't make it out there all that often, because I'm a carless urbanite. If someone is heading out there some time, though, I bet we can work something out!

                                                                                                          2. re: another_adam

                                                                                                            O cruised by on Saturday night, and they had seafood panjeon, some fried veggie ones, and some flounder slices fried up. Mmmmmmm..I always get the kim bop when I'm there; my Mom and TC are addicted....

                                                                                                        2. re: greygarious

                                                                                                          A chow-tour is a cool idea. I thought of this awhile ago - I brought a friend to the H-Mart in Boston; hadn't been there since it was a Super 8. She was in awe - we spent at least an hour, maybe more, just wandering the isles. She had never been to anything like it, besides the tiny Asian grocery stores on the North Shore.

                                                                                                          So I was a sort-of tour guide for her that day, haha. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed monster is king!

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                                                                                                          H-Mart
                                                                                                          3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

                                                                                                        3. I am thinking of heading to H Mart for this first time this weekend. Is it still crowded beyond belief on the weekends, even though it has been open for some time now? Any updates on good things to order at the Food Court?

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Kat

                                                                                                            Yes, still very crowded in my experience. My favorite time to go is late Sunday evening. Unfortunately, the selection, especially in the kimchi area, seems a bit picked over at that time. But at least I can relax a bit and look at things.

                                                                                                            1. re: Kat

                                                                                                              Yes, still crowded but no where near as crazy as when it first opened. Heck, I don't always find parking up close, but I can find parking. And they don't need the police to direct traffic to keep it that way.

                                                                                                            2. I thought I'd mention the afternoon parking situation. I got there just before 5 this afternoon - a mild, sunny Thursday. There was plenty of parking, lot less than half full - about the same when I left there 90 minutes later. There were fewer than a half-dozen customers in the food court. The Indian booth is gone - not a surprise although the time I ate there it was quite good.
                                                                                                              The produce looked fresher than I've seen it on my 3 previous trips there. Still no misters, though. Impulse buys this time were a large, oblong purple radish that weighs over a pound, and both red and yellow-green seedless grapes that are the size of green peas. You really have to know prices. Some of the produce was a bargain, but not all. The fresh seafood values are good, but a can of evaporated milk is 10 cents more than at Market Basket. Canned and bagged dry beans were a good deal higher than MB, too.

                                                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                I was there last week with the same type of parking situation, not bad at all. And I agree, if you know your prices, you will do well at H-Mart.
                                                                                                                And the convenience of MB (which was way more crowded), is right next door. I love killing two birds with one stone, lol!
                                                                                                                Funny thing for me, while I was checking out "soy sauce", I bumped into an Asian guy. I asked him for a good brand to buy. He said " Kikoman", which I wouldn't have bought, thinking there is a whole aisle practically designated to soy sauce. I was thinking there is some Asian brand secretly hiding on the shelves that I could snap up! When I came home, I was telling my friend my story (her mom is Japanese). She said her mom only buys "Kikoman" as well.
                                                                                                                How is it I never knew? :)

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                                                                                                                H-Mart
                                                                                                                3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

                                                                                                                1. re: mcel215

                                                                                                                  Kikkoman is a major Japanese food company. Their US operation is a just part of what they do. If you go to Super88/HKS, you can find Kikkoman Soy Sauce from Japan. There are so many different varieties! It IS good stuff.

                                                                                                                  Apropos prices at H-Mart, over the year and a half since it's opened its been my impression that they have gotten quite a bit higher, especially for meat, but also for some other items. I was there last week. As I shopped the produce area I kept thinking that I could get just about anything they were selling that was not a Korean specialty item at Russo's at a better price. The exception, of course is whatever is on sale.

                                                                                                                  To add to Greygarious' note about the departure of the Indian food stall, folks might be interested to know that a Vietnamese operation is now occupying that space. I did not try it. This time.

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                                                                                                                  H-Mart
                                                                                                                  3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

                                                                                                                  1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                                                                    Does said Vietnamese place offer a bahn mi?

                                                                                                                    1. re: sablemerle

                                                                                                                      Sorry, I didn't notice. I did see a sign for pho, fwiw.

                                                                                                                      1. re: sablemerle

                                                                                                                        I will check it out next time I am there. I would love to find a closer place for bahn mi than Chinatown or Allston.

                                                                                                                        1. re: mcel215

                                                                                                                          Unfortunately, no banh mi on the menu, at least a few weeks ago. Disappointed to see the Indian place gone, as we usually grabbed at least one dish there while grazing in the food court. As for the Vietnamese place, I can't recall what my wife had, but she enjoyed it. It had some punny name like Pho Sure.

                                                                                                                          1. re: jbh11

                                                                                                                            Thanks.

                                                                                                                      2. re: PinchOfSalt

                                                                                                                        The best part of this story is the name of the new place is "Pho Sure".. Cracks me up.. Not quite as good as the one i once saw called "Pho Shizzle" though...

                                                                                                                      3. re: mcel215

                                                                                                                        I wonder, with H-Mart prices having increased of late, whether the Asian customers have discovered the new MB, accounting for high volume there instead? I was only in that MB once but noticed they had a lot of Asian produce that other suburban MBs I visit do not (I have never been to MB Reading or Chelsea). More packaged Asian foods too, though nothing to rival the aisles at HM.

                                                                                                                    2. Forgot to mention that I noticed they advertise that they are open 365 days a year. Worth keeping in mind if you ever forget the holiday shabu-shabu!

                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                        O M G........I went on Easter Sunday.....It is obviously part of the holiday tradition for farflung Koreans to drive their SUV's to HMart and go back to the hinterlands where there is no Korean food with trunks, coolers, bags and bundles packed for the long months ahead. So I decided, as I waited for the very last space in the very last row, a family with Maine plates sorting their fish, veg and rice into various coolers and compartments... I kid, I kid....

                                                                                                                        Actually, I was there, because 4 weeks post heart attack, Galleymom said she would kill for some Chinese or any food with flavor. I decided Chinese to start off might give her another heart attack, so I stopped and got some Korean Maki (which she loves!) and stir-fried noodles with veggies from the prep food area. She had the best Easter ever! There she was, an eighty year old white lady, feasting on this huge tray of maki, offering it gleefully to anyone who came into the room...

                                                                                                                        1. re: galleygirl

                                                                                                                          Too funny. I was there at 8am on Easter Sunday as well. There were only 5 cars in the parking lot and it was such a joyful trip!

                                                                                                                          They had Chilean Sea bass on sale for 8.99lb and it was excellent. Chinese broccoli was on sale as well and was disappointed that they didn't have any.

                                                                                                                          But it was a great time to shop there and I will return again at that time.

                                                                                                                          GG, glad that GM is doing well.

                                                                                                                          1. re: mcel215

                                                                                                                            One of the best meat departments for the price I have ever seen. Beautiful Ox-tail, amazingly marbled short ribs and Snake river Kobe beef sliced and ready to drop into Pho.

                                                                                                                      2. Someone at the weekly knitting circle in Chelmsford showed me one of the coupon booklets she receives regularly in the mail because she registered for H-Mart's courtesy card. I just signed up.
                                                                                                                        It offers specials to card-holders that the general public doesn't hear about.

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                                                                                                                        H-Mart
                                                                                                                        3 Old Concord Rd, Burlington, MA 01803

                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                          Yes i get those about once a month. Just sign up for the card.