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Best Finds at Local Asian Markets?

We seem to be spending more and more time and money at our local Lotte Plaza. I know that many other people are fans of H Mart and Grand Mart. What are some amazing things you've found?

I'll start with Pop Pan Spring Onion Crackers by Garden (known for their outstanding wafer cookies as well). My whole family loves these things. They are cracker crack!

Funny review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8EEyP...

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  1. One of Korea's favorite snacks is the Choco-Pie, which if you're a Southerner you'll recognize as a Moon Pie (as in "Gonna get me a Moon Pie an' a RC Cola".

    2 Replies
    1. re: wayne keyser

      My kids are huge Orion Choco-Pie fans. I buy two boxes at a time.

      Back home in RI, ours were called Scooter Pies.

      1. re: wayne keyser

        I love those Choco-Pies! They're made with REAL chocolate and no high fructose corn syrup anywhere! Wonderful to find in this day and age.

      2. I bought a small package of tofu puffs in Grand Mart, next to the regular tofu. Cut them in fourths and add them to a dish. They soak up sauces nicely and provide a great contrast in texture to meats, vegetable, or even regular tofu.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Steve

          So you're saying you're cuckoo for tofu puffs?

          1. re: KeithW

            Oh, I am sooooo confused now. Maybe I've been buying the wrong breakfast cereal all these years.

            I just plopped a few in my instant ramen. There is simply no end of ways to use this product. It's a dessert! It's a floor cleaner!

        2. I'm in love with jarred Chili Bamboo Shoots. I do much of my shopping at Fresh World and I pick up at least a jar a week to eat with oatmeal, mix with steamed or roasted vegetables, or just on some rice.

          1. I am a big fan of Chinese Broccoli. It has fewer buds and
            Is leafyer than conventional broccoli. I usually slice crosswise and sauté it.

            I'm also a big fan of the thinly sliced ribeye. I usually make cheesesteaks with it. Occasionally I will marinate it in kalbi marinade and make a stir-fry.

            Tofu shirataki noodles are another favorite. They are low carb and low calorie. I rinse them and then dry sauté them to get them as dry as possible. I like to stir fry them with vegetables and add an Asian inspired sauce. Usually a combo of soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, honey (or sugar), a touch of citrus, and corn starch.

            I could go on. I love shopping at H-mart

            3 Replies
            1. re: amethiste

              I can't seem to figure out the shirataki noodles. I've drained them well an they still are pretty chewy. Is that just what to expect?

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                They are going to be pretty chewy. I would recommend dry frying them before using them.

                1. re: amethiste

                  I'm now in love with them! I guess I figured it out :). I had to approach them as something other than pasta. I toss them in nearly anything, the Asian market has the best price.

            2. Kimchi flavored seaweed snacks! (tao kae noi brand; available at H Mart; I haven't seen them at the other Asian stores.) There are other flavors available as well, but I have only tried the kimchi flavored ones.

              I am also eating far more Asian-style greens (bok choy, Shanghai bok choi, Chinese broccoli, etc.) these days.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Lori D

                If you regularly eat Asian greens (snow pea shoots, Chinese broccoli, AA lettuce, bok choy, etc.), then you probably feel the same way I do with kale, which is a bitter green that just doesn't taste very good. Of all the veggiest that should be popular, I don't know why it has to be kale.

                1. re: Worldwide Diner

                  I have to say, Mrs. W found a technique that makes even raw (!) kale taste good. It's called "massaging." The salad she made with "massaged" raw kale was incredibly good.

                  1. re: Worldwide Diner

                    I like the Asian greens you mentioned and I like Kale.

                    1. re: Worldwide Diner

                      Kale when cooked properly is delicious and is also very nutritious. And we eat and grow many Asian greens. Now Chinese bitter melon can be bitter and also when cooked Chinese style can have it's bitterness tempered to one's taste.

                    2. re: Lori D

                      We like the Japanese rice seasonings esp Wasabi Fumi Furikake which we also shake on our oat meal. Also from H-Mart they come in a variety of flavors.

                      From Kam Sen we have found the roasted gluten by Havista to be excellent

                      1. re: Lori D

                        I love seaweed snacks. I've never tried the Kimchi variety but it sounds great.

                      2. When my shopping list includes a lot of fresh produce, Lotte Plaza is a must-stop. The selection is outstanding, and the prices are often absurdly low (e.g., on green onions/scallions).

                        One produce caveat: sometimes things like strawberries and blueberries can be pretty close to the overripe line.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Bob W

                          I understand that this is because, in Asian countries, most people shop daily and want produce that is properly ripe, but produce in that state doesn't have many more days left in it.

                          1. re: wayne keyser

                            Thanks wayne -- That would make sense w/r/t the berries. I haven't had the problem with too much other stuff (e.g., avocados, mangos, other items that could turn to mush overnight).

                            I would also recommend the mushrooms at Lotte -- amazing selection, very fair prices.

                          2. re: Bob W

                            Also, watch people in the produce section sometimes. A lot of the items get picked up and literally thrown back into the bin. I find a lot of the produce starts to show bruises and soft spots within a day of getting it home.

                          3. Don't forget the Shrooms! Beautiful Shitake, Enoki, Trumpet, and others...

                            Shishito peppers, Labeled at H-Mart as "Sweet Pepper"

                            Fresh Garbanzo beans in the pod (Oil Salt Pepper Heat - And eat them like Edamame!)

                            Uni - Oh Beautiful Uni...

                            I love experimenting with all of the "Deli"-type items - The "Seasoned Eggs" were last week's try, not as good as the one at A&J though....Also work your way through various types of Kimchi...

                            My Favorite Ramen - Shin and Shin black Label if you can find it

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: tommyskitchen

                              At the Super H they have fresh instant ramen in the refrigerated noodle section. I like the tonkotsu variety. Package includes two separator servings: fresh noodles that cook in 1 or 2 minutes, a soup base, and a separate packet of dehydrated crunches.

                              1. re: Steve

                                Fresh World carries Shirakiku and Myojo brand ramen, the latter makes an excellent non-fried air-dried ramen. They also do a curry udon and Okinawa style udon.

                                http://www.seriouseats.com/2013/09/ta...

                            2. Honey bun bread! Its that buttery coconut filling but rolled into a loaf of bread. Not in my city thank goodness. Hard to find a good honey bun these days. Something happened to the place where I used to get them and now I haven't found a good one in years. Filling is either to dry or not enough.

                                1. re: Raffles

                                  Just bought some chow fun and Kobe beef at H-Mart in Catonsville yesterday. Sichuan Jin River in Rockville makes delicious Beef Chow fun.

                                  1. re: zenim

                                    one of my very favorite dishes! i'll make a special trip to Rockville!

                                2. can anyone tell me which seaweed to buy to make salad like I eat at local sushi restaurants?

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: foster

                                    Wakame, or nori would be my guess.

                                    1. re: foster

                                      Wakame, not nori. Asian stores sell the salad already made, as it is purchased in bulk, even at sushi restaurants. You should be able to find it in the prepared food section of the refrigerator.

                                      1. re: sarinaL

                                        Is this the tiny dendritic type seaweed? Can you buy it in dry form? I would like to make my own salad.

                                        1. re: zenim

                                          I think most people buy it already made refrigerated or frozen and it has some sort of agar mix. I've tried with regular dried wakame and it's not the same.

                                    2. We have a G Mart coming to Baltimore City...can anyone comment on whether or not to be excited? I'm cautiously optimistic.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: gregb

                                        Wow, that's good to know. Do you know where? I've never heard of G Mart but if it's like H Mart that would be awesome.

                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                          G Mart used to be called Grand Mart. H Mart used to be call Han Ah Reum (sp?). I guess the trend is toward shorter names. 8<D

                                          There used to be a Grand Mart in Centreville in an old Shopper's Food Warehouse space. It was ok but not the cleanest store. It's now closed. The Grand Mart up on Route 7 in Sterling is much nicer.

                                          I love our Lotte Plaza in Chantilly. I tried the one in Ashburn once and found it too much like a regular American supermarket.

                                          The one common thread among these chains is the produce depts are amazing in terms of both variety and prices.

                                          1. re: Bob W

                                            yes! on the variety, quality and value of the produce depts.

                                            1. re: Bob W

                                              Are you sure that Grand Mart and G Mart are the same corporation? I believe they are different.

                                              And I understand that the Grand Mart is Sterling is closed.

                                              It seems as if the Grand Mart corporation is having a hard time of it. That could be because out of all of these supermarkets, they (in general) had the worse produce. The one in Alexandria off of 395 is (or maybe was) pretty horrible. The H Mart that opened in Centreville a few years ago is much better than the competing Grand Mart.

                                              The Lotte in Chantilly is indeed wonderful. If I lived out there or had other reason to be in the neighborhood (which I haven't in awhile), I would be there all the time.

                                              I think another common thread with these chains is that almost all of them have small food courts/lunch counters that have pretty good food. My personal favorite is the squid at the Silver Spring Lotte.

                                              1. re: Lori D

                                                Oh that could certainly be the case, Lori. I just figured G Mart was their way to keep up with H Mart. Maybe better stores would be the best approach!

                                                Some of the best sections at the Lotte in Chantilly, in addition to the produce, are the Indian foods (massive selection, probably killing many of the small local Indian grocery stores) and the ramen noodles (and other dried noodle bowls, etc).

                                            2. re: fldhkybnva

                                              It's going in the old Santoni's location on Lombard St. in Highlandtown

                                          2. Asian markets have excellent prices on untrimmed packer briskets, beef ribs, pork butt, and uncut hangar steaks. If you don't mind learning a few basics about trimming meat, you can save a ton of money.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: monkeyrotica

                                              Can I expect G Mart to be comparable to H Mart? How’s the seafood counter?

                                              1. re: gregb

                                                Never been to G Mart, so I can't tell you. They are opening one near me, so anything over the Safeway/Giant/Shoppers Food Warehouse triad should be an improvement.

                                                1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                  Went to the G Mart in Fair Lakes yesterday. Since they just opened, the place was very clean and orderly. The fish counter had good deals (live tilapia for $3.99 / lb., and still live lobsters but with missing claws or other defects for $2.99 /lb.). Vegetables very fresh and good prices. Meat section like G Mart or Lotte Plaza.

                                              2. re: monkeyrotica

                                                Also I prefer to buy a piece of pork and have them grind it for ground pork dishes. It costs a little more but is worth the quality you get. They are happy to grind it at my Chinese super markets in Rockville.

                                                1. re: zenim

                                                  That's pretty much why I bought a manual meat grinder. Kind of a pain to have to keep the parts in the freezer to keep the sinew from sticking, but worth it to me. I've always been wary of ground meat, not so much for the quality of the meat but how often they clean the grinder. Same problem I have with deli sliced meats and frogurt dispensers.

                                                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                    Very good points. We eat very little deli sliced meats and if we do I always have them slice off a piece. The pre-sliced meats and cheeses sit there gathering bacteria waiting to be bought. Will check out a manual meat grinder. Or maybe an attachment for my mixer?? Huuummm.

                                                2. re: monkeyrotica

                                                  I've always been cautious of the quality of meat. Have you had good experience with it?

                                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                    I have had good experience with the pork. Always very fresh.

                                                  1. Maesri curry pastes - come in a bunch of flavors and for something out of a can taste great. Ingredients are pretty minimal - green curry for example " Ingredients: Chilli, garlic, shallot, lemongrass, salt, spices and galangal (thai root)." While I am sure making your own pastes is superior for those, like me, not really versed in the Eastern flavor ways these are a nice way to get an authentic Thai flavor at home without much work. Also they cost under $2 so they are cheap too.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: JTPhilly

                                                      Wow, thanks for the reminder. I bought a tub of red curry I've used...never!

                                                    2. Best find over the weekend at Fresh World: Big bundles of fresh green garlic @ about $1.50 each.