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Feb 18, 2012 07:49 AM

Help for "Dummies" at H Mart Food Stalls.....

Okay, I go to H Mart a lot. I get so much produce there, and even sample some great cooked items being passed out. Most of the servers are non-English speaking people. Not that I am complaining, but would love to learn more.

But my biggest fear is that I will make a fool of myself at the food court. I have never ordered anything at any of the Food Stalls because I feel overwhelmed and I can't seem to read or even get a good idea from any of the pictures they show of the meal choices.

Here is what I know by observing. The stall on the left is by far the most popular. Most people that are eating at the tables, seem to have big bowls full of liquid type dishes. The pictures that are up are not clear what is in them and no one seems to speak English. I don't want to make a complete fool of myself, but I do want to try things there. I am really fond of Korean/Asian/Thai food........ can someone explain to me how to overcome my fear of a "dummie"? Thanks :)

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  1. I'm looking forward to hearing responses to this!

    My strategy:
    1. ensure I have a backup snack ready
    2. remind myself that I'm spending $10 for "adventure" instead of "lunch"
    3. throw a dart.

    I'm often successful in scoring a tasty lunch, but I still don't know what I ate, so I don't learn much.

    3 Replies
    1. re: enhF94

      The best/only stall to go to is the very last one on the left as you face the food court. It is korean food. BiBimBap is a popular one, spend the extra few bucks and get the stone bowl. I also like the spicy chicken with tofu dish. I forget what number it is but it has very large white triangles of tofu in the photo. The spicy kimchi soup is really good too

      1. re: hargau

        The sushi stall is also quite delicious -- but -- ask them to make your roll fresh! I have gotten stale prepackaged rolls before.

      2. Thanks for starting this- I'll copy over what I wrote on the other thread:

        I went in there all "I'm going to be adventurous today" and was promptly overwhelmed by all of the options and went with the one dish I have a passing familiarity with. I"ve only had a bit of Korean food and I'm not a total spice head. There are so many options at all the stalls there, and I would love someone who knows more than I do to make some recommendations!

        Yes, it was the stall on the end, I don't remember the number, I just said "Jap chae" and even with my non-authentic pronunciation they were able to figure out what I wanted. It was fine, probably not the best option there- very little actual beef in it, maybe 4 pieces total but the noodles had a nice firm texture and the overall flavor was good. I'm also not always totally sure about the panchan. The kim chi and the beansprout thingy are obvious and but there's a bowl of liquid- is it soup? Do you pour it over rice?

        I will also add that I saw an older man next to me eating what he said was stir fried beef from the Chinese stall. He was really enjoying it.

        If I went more often I'd go in and just work my way down the menus, starting with the stall on the left. As enfF94 says, it's a $10-$15 gamble on a tasting experience, really not too much to lose there!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chris VR

          They give you a bowl of soup a bowl of rice and a few small kimchi bowls.

        2. Aeri's Kitchen has a picture index of her recipes - you could scan through, find something that looks good then read the recipe to see what's in it (and its name - though i forget if that Korean food stall has names on the picture menu, or just numbers?):

          My favorite thing to get is the stir-fried pork with kimchi, sliced rice cakes and steamed tofu...sorry that I cannot remember what the dish is called. We had a discussion about it in another thread because the rice cakes are not traditional, but seem to show up in the Boston version of the dish...sorry but I can't find that thread, either!

          I know you're supposed to get the stone pot with bibimbap (dolsot bibimbap), but I don't really like the crunchy rice on the bottom. Heresy, I know, and maybe it's my imagination but the servers look askance when I order it that way :-)

          5 Replies
          1. re: gimlis1mum

            I think you would get the same look if you peeled your fried chicken, and just ate the chicken part and left all the crispy skin/coating on the plate

            1. re: gimlis1mum

              The pork with tofu and rice cakes is called something like "dubu kimchi jeyuk bokkeum" (or "dubu kimchi bokkeum" or "dubu jeyuk bokkeum") in most places around town.

              dubu = tofu
              kimchi (really, more properly spelled gimchi)
              jeyuk = pork
              bokkeum = stir-fry

              I think it just depends which aspects they want to emphasize :)
              Also, if I recall correctly, they have non-dolsot bibimbap right on the menu, so it shouldn't be weird to order it without the stone pot! :)

              1. re: another_adam

                a slight expansion on adam's terminology guide ...

                -tang, -jigae, -guk = all variations of the word "stew"

                -duk, -dduk, -tteok, etc = rice cake noodles. I believe it refers to both oval-disc- and cylinder-shaped rice cakes.

                and remember that everything is phonetically spelled out, so "dubu" could also be spelled "dooboo" (and "tofu" sounds pretty similar in other regions: in cantonese, "dofu" .... in singapore, "tau foo" ... ).

              2. re: gimlis1mum

                this link is the best CH resource I've seen in months. Thanks!

                1. re: gimlis1mum

                  Thank you. I am tempted to go and take pictures at the stalls. :) Then you could tell me what they are.


                2. I also recommend the one on the far left/back (closest to the kimchi/deli section of the market), it's called Wujeon (or Woojeon or Wuchon or some spelling like that).

                  I haven't been in a while, so I don't know if their menu has changed a lot, but if someone posted a picture of the menu, I could try to help associate items and numbers, for ordering by number. It's kind of possible to explain how to sound out the name, but probably a lot easier to start with the number and then ask them to pronounce it for you a few times, especially if you're game to try repeating it and having them correct your pronunciation!

                  A few things that are reliable stand-bys:

                  - Haemul pajeon: seafood pancake, comes with rice and some soup (picture attached)
                  - Dolsot bibimbap: rice + veggies + a bit of meat + hot sauce in a stone pot. You squeeze on the sauce to your taste, and then mix mix mix well so that it gets integrated, and the rice doesn't get burned on (especially if you don't like it too crispy). They also have a non-stone-pot version, if you want something less hot and non-crispy.

                  I personally usually go for soups/stews there, and there are a bunch.
                  - Dwenjang jjigae is sort of like the Korean version of miso, but a little chunkier— the soup has tofu, zucchini, and some clams and maybe some meat; it tends to be a bit spicy. (picture attached)
                  - Ddeok mandu guk is rice cake and dumpling soup, with a bit of ground beef and fried egg in it, and a soup made from dried fish.
                  - Gamja tang is pork bone soup, somewhat spicy, with some potato and cabbage and perilla seeds in it.
                  - Daegu maeun tang is spicy cod stew, with pieces of fish (usually, with bones), and various veggies in a spicy red broth (picture attached)
                  - Seolleong tang is a bone soup, a milky color, and noodles and beef in it. (not spicy; you add salt or spice to your taste when you eat it) (picture attached)
                  - In the summer, they have samgyetang: a Korean chicken soup with ginseng, glutinous rice, and chinese dates

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: another_adam

                    Found a picture of the samgyetang, too...

                    1. re: another_adam

                      Thanks so much Adam. I am printing your list out, it's a very good place to start. :)


                      1. re: mcel215

                        Here are photos of 2 of our favorites from that stall.
                        The spicy pork with tofu i mentioned earlier and the kimchi soup with pork, rice cakes, we put a few of the large tofu cubes from the pork dish into the soup...

                      2. re: another_adam

                        Adam, I am going to order that seafood pancake, thanks so much. :)
                        I live 10 minutes away and am at H-Mart all the time. But, since it's mobbed opening, I usually go on Sunday mornings at 8am and it's a ghost town.


                      3. Thank you for your help everyyone ~

                        Now if anyone has an ipad, or iphone, you can zoom in on these pictures. I just came back and the place was mobbed, so was the food court.

                        Lots of people at the last stall on the left, Korean Cuisine? Not too sure, didn't want to get in people's way of ordering. The first two pictures are the ones from their.

                        Then, what I thought is the Chinese stall, was actually the Tha stall.

                        And then I took a picture of the Vietnamese one. The Vietnamese stall, had the only menu I saw, so I snapped a picture of it. It's in English, and so did the Thai place. At the Thai place, the picture of the bright yellow "smiley face dish", is an egg dish. It's like an omelette. Some kid was there cutting it in half to give his friend some and the thing is huge. It has lots of vegetables inside. And looked really good. Thanks again everyone, at least now I feel like I can order some time. I didn't today, because I had already eaten by the time I went. I usually go very early in the morning, so I don't go during lunch time. I do buys lots of their produce, it's a lot cheaper than even Market Basket.

                        Here's some pictures. And thanks again. :)


                        8 Replies
                        1. re: mcel215

                          OK, here's my brief descriptions of the items (with the transcription of the Korean name, and its spelling on the sign, in case that helps match things up) Most (if not all?) of the dishes come with rice, kimchi, and some other small side (soybean sprouts, pickled radish, etc.), and if I recall correctly, a couple slices of danmuji (pickled radish dyed yellow = takuan in Japanese)

                          1 kimchi jjigae 김치찌개 (stew with kimchi, tofu, pork; somewhat spicy)

                          2 dwenjang jjigae 된장찌개 (stew with tofu, fermented soybeans-- like a chunky version of miso-- and veggies, dried anchovies, and a bit of seafood (e.g., clams) and pork)

                          3 sundubu 순두부 (soft/silken tofu, in usually an anchovy-based broth, with an egg; spicy)

                          4 galbi tang 갈비탕 (clear non-spicy soup with marinated grilled short ribs, and some shredded fried egg)

                          5 yukgaejang 육개장 (a spicy soup made from shredded beef and veggies)

                          6 ddeok mandu guk 떡만두국 (clear soup with sliced rice cakes, meat dumplings, and shredded fried egg on top)

                          7 daegu maeun tang 대구매운탕 (a spicy soup made with fish-- usually including bones, etc.-- with veggies and tofu)

                          8 seolleong tang 설렁탕 (bone soup, milky white from long cooking, with noodles; fairly plain, you add salt and seasoning when you eat it)

                          9 ddukbaegi bulgogi 뚝배기 불고기 - "ttukbaegi" is the name of the clay pot that soups generally come in; this is bulgogi served in a pot like this, with noodles

                          10 jangteo guksu 장터국수 (also known as jangchi guksu) linguini-like noodles in a light beef broth (or possibly anchovy broth?), with some veggies and shredded fried egg

                          11 haemul pajeon 해물파전 fried pancake with seafood and green onions in it

                          12 ojingeo bokkeum 오징어볶음 squid, stir friend in a spicy sauce with onions and sometimes some other veggies (like zucchini)

                          13 dubu gimchi bokkeum 두부김치볶음 stir fried pork and kimchi, a little bit spicy (but not too much) and a bit sweet from the marinade, with tofu (This is the hybrid dish of dubu kimchi (tofu + kimchi) and kimchi jeyuk bokkeum (kimchi and pork stir fry) that seems quite pervasive in Boston!)

                          14 japchae 잡채 clear noodles, with onions, zucchini, mushrooms, egg, and usually a little bit of meat, with sesame flavored seasoning (non-spicy). As mentioned above, the amount of meat is very token. It's a pleasant dish, though maybe a bit plain to make a whole meal of...

                          15 LA galbi LA갈비 (marinated grilled short ribs)

                          16 bulgogi 불고기 (thin sliced marinated beef)

                          17 dak bokkeum 닭볶음 spicy stir-fried chicken, with rice

                          18 jeyuk gui 제육구이 grilled (or roasted) pork slices, marinated (the sign says spicy, but it's usually not particularly spicy)

                          19 dolsot bibimbap 돌솥비빔밥 (rice bowl, with veggies and some beef (or seafood, for a couple extra dollars), and spicy sauce to taste; in a hot stone bowl, you mix it thoroughly, and the rice at the bottom gets a bit crispy)

                          20 bibimbap 비빔밥 (rice bowl, not in a stone bowl; fresh things like lettuce instead of cooked ingredients)

                          21 sundae guk 순대국 soup made with blood sausage (korean style, with noodles inside), a little bit spicy but not usually all that spicy

                          22 o-bul-bokkuem (=ojingeo/bulgogi bokkeum) 오불볶음 spicy stir fry of octopus and beef, with rice

                          23 kimchi pajeon 김치파전 fried pancake with kimchi and freen onions in it

                          24 haemul jjigae 해물찌개 spicy seafood + tofu soup, with some leafy greens in it (similar to #7 daegu maeun tang)

                          25 samgyetang 삼겨탕 soup with a whole small chicken, stuff with ginseng, glutinous rice, dates (traditional summer food)

                          26 ttaro gukbap 따로국밥 it's a spicy beef soup like #5 (yukgaejang), but with more veggies, and rice in the soup

                          27 budae jjigae 부대찌개 "army base stew", with various meats (usu. including hot dogs, spam), in a spicy broth with kimchi and various veggies, and often noodles. euphemistically called "kimchi soup with assorted deli meats" here :)

                          28 gamjatang 감자탕 spicy pork bone stew (spine, or more often, neck) with some cabbage, a potato, and perilla seeds.

                          1. re: another_adam

                            Thank you so much Adam. I am going to print down your list and keep it for my next trip to H-Mart. :)

                            1. re: another_adam

                              I might print out some flash cards from this list! Thanks!

                              1. re: Chef Bwana

                                I formatted this list for 3X5 "flash" cards. I assume no liability for any accidental orders of Army Base Stew (PDF) :

                              2. re: another_adam

                                You should change your nametag to awesome_adam. Thanks for doing this work!

                                  1. re: another_adam

                                    My teenage son and I had lunch at this food stall, today. Very lovely counter staff. The seafood pancake was terrific! Nice and hot, fluffy, with plenty of seafood. #15, marinated short ribs, was dominated by sweetness and not much other flavors, plus too much of the meat was gristle and unedible. #10 was a generous serving of noodlesl but the broth was bland. Next time, I'll get something zingier. Although I didn't pay extra for seafood, that's what was in the soup. We got there right before 11:30 and had no problem getting a seat. By noon, the food court was slammed.