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first bad experience with H-Mart in Burlington

I went shopping to H-Mart first time last evening and among other things, I bought what was labeled: boneless chicken tights. Tonight, I opened the package and discovered that while the meat has skin removed, the bones were left in.
However to make things worse, the meat is inedible because it is spoiled, despite 'sale by date' set for October 4th.
I wrapped the spoiled meat in plastic bag and put it back in the fridge. Tomorrow I am going to take it back to H-Mart. I will let you know how they handle the return.

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  1. I bet the store will more than make up for your poor experience.

    1 Reply
    1. re: three of us

      I didn't make to H-Mart as planned so after three days of keeping the meat (thighs, not tights :-) ) in the fridge, I threw out the whole package. Next time I will double check the purchase right after paying for it.

    2. I expect H-Mart will be even more unhappy than you are. It's the kind of thing that they would have nightmares about (spoiled meat/poultry at a new regional flagship store).

      1. Yeah, those "chicken tights" spoil pretty fast. Don't buy them if the eyes are opaque. ;-D

        6 Replies
        1. re: greygarious

          Maybe the fishnets last longer?

          1. re: greygarious

            you could boil it and make chicken sock

            1. re: Prav

              Actually, Frank Perdue's son sells a line of chicken tights on the Home Shopping Network and he swears that they make your legs thinner.

              1. re: Prav

                Prav, I love you! Although bear turns my head a bit... :>)

                I planned on not going to H-Mart until the tourist attraction subsides. Boy, I sure hope that the limp produce and seafood are a transient matter of misjudged turnover rate and not a harbinger of overall lesser quality.

                1. re: greygarious

                  Gregarious, it was not very busy on Tuesday afternoon around 3pm. Parking was a breeze. I'd assume you'd be fine visiting weekdays at this point. Maybe not right at lunchtime though.

                  1. re: mjg0725

                    I concur that H-Mart is not as busy during weekdays as it is on weekends. I was there on Tuesday around 6 pm and easily found parking close to the store.

            2. I made my first trip yesterday night too. I noticed that some seafood, vegetables and fruits were not that fresh. When I'm shopping at supermarket, Asian ones particularyly, I always stick to my theory that whenever I'm in doubt, don't get it or you'll regret.

              2 Replies
              1. re: sheila

                I went there for the first time today, and was disappointed. The prices were higher on dried items than at China Merchandise (one exit north on Rte 128), and the produce was disappointing. I also don't understand why they're duplicating a lot of the products they carry at the Market Basket 100 yards away. On the plus side, the prices and variety of tofu was great, and the food court looked interesting, though I didn't try anything.
                One question: was anyone able to find seitan there? I asked a couple of people, and they didn't seem to know what I was talking about.

              2. I brought home some sealed-pack baby back ribs from H-Mart the other day and they were rank! The customer service desk refunded me in full with no questions and apologies. Was it just bad luck, or is this a typical problem with opening weeks at big markets?
                Love the food court, though I need to remember to bring my own tea since they just have soda and (free) hot water.

                1. Sadly, all four nectarines I bought yesterday were black inside. You couldn't tell at all from outside and they weren't mushy when I bought them. What a drag.

                  1. Just served some "fresh" cod I bought there and my husband refused to eat it - a first in 25 years of marriage! It was definitely not fresh - I gave it to the cat who had a big smile on his face after wolfing it down. I will report it to mgmt. next time I'm there.

                    1. My family and I went to H-Mart last weekend. As expected, it was mobbed. I must say, in the fish section it smelled very, very fishy (in a bad way) - which I thought was a bit odd for such a new store. As a result I stayed away from buying any of their seafood. The boneless chicken breasts I bought were fine. Lots of selection in frozen, packaged items and I got some yummy seaweed salad from the prepared food area.
                      But, I think I'll stick to C-Mart in Chinatown for my Asian groceries. Although there were specials on items at H-Mart and the selection is more diverse, I think the prices are better, overall, at C-Mart.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: nlg

                        What IS H-Mart? Where is it and why is everyone talking about it?

                        1. re: ipsofatso

                          It is a Korean-centric supermarket chain. It recently opened its first New England location in Burlington.

                      2. So...it looks like this may not be living up to the hype? Bad produce, bad meat, and bad fish all in a little over a week? Do they care? Maybe not? Mobbed on weekends. Inadequate parking. Lack of variety in the food court. I guess I can put off actually shopping there until issues are worked out.

                        16 Replies
                        1. re: Dinsdale45

                          I could not agree more. I went last Friday and was completely overwhelmed by the parking problems and general mayhem of the place. I had a long wait in the express aisle as they were checking out a couple with two carts full of food ahead of me. So much for "ten items or less"?

                          Meanwhile, I was completely *underwhelmed* with the quality of produce. Just not great, and not that cheap either. The fish looked good, but once I got it home, I was very disappointed. I should have started with one of the whole fish selections, perhaps, but I was in the mood for sashimi so I bought a piece of (pre-wrapped - I know, shame on me) salmon...it had zero flavor, aside from a bit of refrigerator taste. I don't think it was spoiled, per se, but this is not the kind of fish you want to eat, period, let alone raw. I got some seaweed salad that had good flavor, but the texture! It was so chewy and...tough I suppose would be the word?


                          I had such high hopes! I won't be going back any time soon.

                          1. re: Dinsdale45

                            About bad produce etc.....

                            I will make a sizable bet that EVERY supermarket gets returns of bad meat, fish, poultry, and so on, even Whole Foods. Heck, I once bought some chicken at Trader Joes, took it home, opened it, and it stank. Do people post about bad experiences with TJ's here? No, TJ's is well established and we have all grown to expect decent quality and see defects as the exception. Let's give H-Mart a chance to settle down before coming to any conclusions... and then, I hope we will be comparing it to other supermarkets and talking about whether it is more or less likely to run into problems with one store as compared with another.

                            My two cents on H-Mart is that the parking lot is too small, the food court is disappointing (not enough seating, long lines at lunch time, many menu items not available, relative lack of variety compared to the super wonderful food court at the supermarket formerly known as Allston Super 88), BUT, it has many strong points too, especially as regards Korean produce, staple items, and prepared foods, the range of choices at the fish counter, a pan-northeastern Asian selection of vegetables, and great values on sale items. I have made three trips there so far and over the nearly two weeks since it opened I have seen a big improvement in the produce. (I think they have a low humidity problem; yesterday for the first time I saw someone spraying some green leafy vegetables to keep them from wilting). So, like I said, let's give them a chance and see how we all feel about it in a few months. I for one do plan to shop there about once a week, because they have things that I enjoy cooking and, combined with the Market Basket up the parking lot hill and the TJ's just down the street, it is a one-two-three punch for a bunch of my shopping needs.

                            1. re: PinchOfSalt

                              I'm always amazed when people want to give a new vendor a break just because they are new. Like I'm supposed to subsidize their incompetence with my hard earned dollars and time? If they don't have their act together, they shouldn't have opened. Reports like these will permanently damage their reputation. At this point I don't know why I'm even reading this thread. I now have zero desire to check them out. Good marketing job H-Mart!

                              1. re: Tir_na_nOg

                                My point is that every store screws up from time to time; the only question is how often/what are the chances it will happen to you? It is impossible to tell that from this thread. We have some reports of bad stuff, but have no idea how many people were happy with what they purchased. We simply cannot know if H-Mart is "incompetent" or not.

                                If you demand perfection from your supermarkets, you will have to stop shopping at all of them, because none perform at that level. Would you suggest that I stop shopping at TJ's after my bad chicken incident with them? Do you think there is never a problem with purchases made at the Market Basket just up the hill from the H-Mart? How about any of the area's Whole Foods stores? Is everything that they sell perfect? If so, why have I seen out-of-date dairy products on their shelves from time to time? (And at other stores, too... I am not picking on Whole Foods.)

                                More generally, it is important to remember that we are talking about statistics here, and that anecdotal events are not the same as statistics. Years ago, there was a big political furor about the Mass. seatbelt law. A talk show host went on a crusade to get it repealed. He went on about stories where people could not escape from car crashes because their seat belts did not operate properly. He got so many people up in arms about their right to decide not to wear a seatbelt to avoid such a situation that the law was repealed. A few years later, when calmer heads prevailed, the law was re-enacted. The thing is, those stories the talk show host was talking about were anecdotal and exceptional. The statistics clearly demonstrate that if you wear a seatbelt and are in a crash, you have much better chances of avoiding injury and surviving. So even though the stories about malfunctioning seatbelts may have been true, they were not a good reason for not wearing seatbelts. The same thing goes for H-Mart. We do not know if bad meat or whatever is an exception or something that happens a lot there. There is not enough information yet. Only time will tell.

                                1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                  My only concern is that if they're serving bad meat right out of the gate, how reliable will their "expiration dates" be in the future? I usually have no fear of ethnic markets, because they specifically don't want to piss off their targeted clientele, and I'm buying the same stuff that they are buying. It just doesn't make sense that an established chain is having this kind of trouble with the most basic grocery operations, inside of a week after opening. These are professionals. Well, at least a lot of people involved appear to be wearing suits (not that that indicates competency, but it suggests that some good money is being sunk into this venture).

                                  1. re: Dinsdale45

                                    There are two things to consider here:

                                    1. My point above, which boils down to all supermarkets sell a certain amount of bad meat/produce/whatever and we don't have enough information to know whether H-Mart is about the same as others, better, or worse. So I simply do not accept your assertion that H-Mart is "having this kind of trouble". It is sort of like saying "there were 10 murders in city X, so it must be unsafe" without knowing how many people live in the city and how it compares to other cities of similar size.

                                    2. It is my understanding that when there is a "bad" package of a perishable item, the problem is more likely due to mishandling than the date being too optimistic. Here are a few examples of bad handling to illustrate. In the first example, a careless or improperly trained employee does not store or keep the item at the appropriate temperature. In the second example, something similar happens white the item is being shipped from the distributor to the store. In the third example, a customer takes the item from the temperature-controlled display, wanders around the store for a while, and then removes it from his/her cart. In the final example, the customer buys the item, and the item spends a significant amount of time in an grocery bag in a car that might be quite warm. The store has varying amounts of control over the chance that any of these examples might happen and varying amounts of ability to detect if it has.

                                    Now for the part that we may just have to agree to disagree about. In real life I am a product manager. I have worked with some very dedicated hard-working teams who want their products to be successful right down to the tips of their toes. Yet, no matter how much QA we did, how much alpha and beta testing, and so on, we all knew that when we went to general release we would get bug reports... many more bug reports per week or day than would be normal over the life of the product. You can't anticipate or test for everything, no matter how hard you try. I would be surprised if the same were not true for a supermarket, especially one in which many of the employees are new hires and in which all of the equipment is new.

                                    I see no reason not to beleive that H-Mart will turn out to be a place where you can shop with the same level of confidence as, say, Stop and Shop or Roche Brothers. H-Mart is clearly aimed at a middle class/professional class demographic. They cannot win and keep the patronage of that kind of customer with an inferior product. They know that and have been successful in other locations. So, we can probably expect the same here. Certainly, people on other boards with longer-established H-Marts in their cities might be able to speak to what their stores are like...

                                    1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                      My issue with your #1 point is that they are brand new. Just opened, and packed with crowds from the sound of it (I haven't been yet, planning that for next week). If they are already having complaints about expired food, that says to me they're either sourcing from an unreliable vendor or handling/storing it incorrectly in-store. Because otherwise, what explanation is there? An established market can point to poor turnover as a reason for expired food on the shelves, but a brand new market? If there's a legitimate explanation that doesn't suggest incompetence somewhere, I'd love to hear it. You do suggest:

                                      "a customer takes the item from the temperature-controlled display, wanders around the store for a while, and then removes it from his/her cart."

                                      But in that case, the customer never puts it back where it belongs. So an employe finds it and ought to be disposing of it if it's perishable, not restocking it on the shelf. And that shoudn't have an impact on produce. So even that really doesn't give a logical reason that doesn't put the store at fault.

                                      I agree there are a lot of kinks to work out when you first open, but this is their only chance to make a positive first impression on their potential market, and there's really no margin for error in these opening days.

                                      1. re: Chris VR

                                        Nobody said any expiration dates had passed, just that they bought an item, took it home, and it was spoiled. In addition to the examples I gave before, there could be temperature fluctuations due to new equipment not acting exactly as expected, etc, etc. But the main point is, what I said before and will not repeat after this: No supermarket is perfect, and we do not have enough information yet to know if H-Mart is better, worse, or about the same as other supermarkets when it comes to items that are spoiled.

                                        Customers sometimes do put things back from where they took them! I have seen it happen.

                                  2. re: PinchOfSalt

                                    "If you demand perfection from your supermarkets, you will have to stop shopping at all of them, because none perform at that level."

                                    ehhhhh that is not at all my view. And I to throw this out there for the sake of argument is...a distraction. I have NEVER had an experience where meat or fish was already spoiled or of genuinely questionable quality, except at whole foods. And no, I no longer shop there. You *should* pick on whole foods as they truly suck in this regard! And yes, people do complain on this board about freshness problems at wf, as they should. It seems like you think people are picking on H-Mart here...and I don't see it.

                                    To think that we should put the bar so low as to excuse rotten meat being sold with several days left til expiration....no. I simply will not overlook that. The reports of others *is* good enough for me in this case. It's really that simple. Deal with that parking lot? Risk getting towed? All so I can wait in line forever to buy spoiled product?

                                    Why on earth would I do that?

                                    1. re: lisa13

                                      I have never had a problem with meat from Whole Foods, but have (once) at Trader Joes. By your logic you should not shop there. And what about the peaches I got at Russo's that were mealy inside? Scratch them too. And some shredded cheese I got from Market Basket recently went moldy before I had even opened it and way before the expiration date. Guess you would tell me not to shop there any more. Too bad my yard is too tiny for me to be raising all my food.

                                      Here is a question you might want to consider. Let's say a supermarket, any supermarket, packages up some meat. When they do that the meat is perfectly fine. They put it out on the display. Between that time and when a customer opens the package at home, the meat goes bad. How can a supermarket detect that problem 100% of the time so the customer never opens a bad package of meat at home?

                                      The reason I have been arguing with people is not because I believe H-Mart can do no wrong, it is because I believe people are coming to conclusions that are not substantiated by facts. Earlier in this thread I recounted the story about the Massachusetts seatbelt law. Based on some very exceptional cases, people felt they had a right to decide not to wear their seatbelts. The same thing could be happening here. We do not know if spoiled meat (or fish or whatever) at H-Mart is the rule or the exception. The reports given in this thread may be true, but cannot possibly represent an accurate statistical picture - we would also need to know how many people bought perfectly good meat/fish/whatever. If you or anyone else has any doubt about the safety or quality of meat or any other fresh/perishable item sold at H-Mart, you should bring your complaint to the Burlington Board of Health. They are far better equipped to monitor operations there than any of us are, and have a strong vested interest in making sure that all the rules to insure proper handling of food are followed by H-Mart.

                                      1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                        To have this many negative reports in this span of time is meaningful, whether it is "logical" to you or not. There is a net assessment that is being made, and you can pick little pieces of it to argue about, but the fact remains that people are reporting personal experiences involving very poor quality and/or spoiled food at HMart. Are you seriously suggesting we should not talk about it, in favor of quietly reporting it to the authorities?

                                        This whole board is set up for people to share their experiences at different establishments so that others may consider these experiences when they decide where to eat or to shop. Their collective feedback IS good enough for me.


                                        1. re: lisa13

                                          No, I am not saying people should not talk about it. I am just commenting on what conclusions should nor should not be drawn when the only data that is being collected is negative data and the actual number of reports is not by any measure statistically significant.

                              2. re: Dinsdale45

                                Interestingly, there was a similar report just yesterday on the Allston branch of the quasi-former Super 88 (aka Hong Kong Market Opening Soon!). http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5895...

                                I wonder if these Asian supermarkets just don't believe in expiration dates?

                                1. re: BobB

                                  That's kind of a broad generalization!

                                  1. re: Prav

                                    Who are you calling a broad? ;-)

                                    Yeah, I know, it just struck me when I read both these reports within minutes of each other.

                                  2. re: BobB

                                    I have seen snacks at these supermarkets with the expiration date glued over with a new nutrition label. If you peel these new nutrition labels with the word "Made in Japan, you may also see the true origin of the manufacturing country which not Japan.

                                    Anybody noticed how spoiled and ugly the logans at Hmart were? They should just dump them instead of selling and getting a bad rap.

                                2. A minor complaint or inconvenience: the checkout registers do not give cash back, nor is there an ATM in the store (there is a bank around the corner) so after paying for my groceries and finding I was out of cash, I couldn't then go to TLJ or the food court. Other than that, I was blown away by the produce and variety of everything else.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: cassis

                                    Most as Asian groceries do not offer cash back as an option; I have found the same true at CMart, Super88, etc...

                                    1. re: galleygirl

                                      I don't remember what the policy was when it was Super 88, but I got cash back at the Allston HKM just last week.

                                      Even after the opening problems get sorted out, this store is sounding more like a pretty good Asian supermarket than the incredible category-killer people were saying it was going to be before it opened. That's too bad.

                                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                        Oh, then that's something new..I can remember many times when it was Super88, and I didin't have the cash to go to the food court! (I have a bad habit of going around with no money, only cards...)

                                        1. re: galleygirl

                                          Well, you'd be in luck anyway, because I can't think of a single place in that food court that doesn't take plastic! I use my debit card there on a near-weekly basis.

                                          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                            If I had only known!!!!!
                                            Buying a banh mi with a debit card sounds very HOng Kong....

                                  2. Although Market Basket's panties are in a twist about the parking situation, it may be a boon to them in the long run. I used to work in that general area, delivering mail to people for whom that was the nearest MB, but they tended to avoid it, preferring to go to a more distant one, because the Burlington MB is small, with very narrow aisles. Like Pinch of Salt, people coming there for H-Mart and TJ's may decide to endure the tight squeeze at MB since it's right there.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      That is exactly what I expect will be happening in my case. I have been going to the Woburn and Reading MBs, because they are much better than the Burlington MB in general and because they are much better if you want to buy some fish. However, that is harder to justify if I am going to also go to H-Mart, especially since H-Mart more than makes up for what the Burlington MB lacks.

                                      What I have really been hoping for is for the Burlington MB to move into the vacant Expo Design Center Space - sort of like the cross-the-parking lot move that MB made in Chelsea. The Expo Design Center Space is not as big as the new Chelsea MB but much larger than the current Burlington location.

                                      1. re: PinchOfSalt

                                        That would be a great idea. The Burlington MB really is too small. I usually shop at the one in Chelmsford and it's just so much bigger and wide open. I felt lost going into the Burlington one!