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H Mart Open in Central Square!

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If any of you are in the area, head on over to the H Mart grand opening - it's a festival! It's sample heaven - bulgogi, seafood pajon, fried tofu, various cakes, etc. - and a fabulous store. I just walked out with dragon fruit, shiitakes, lemongrass, chicken hearts and hot-and-spicy spam & can't wait to go back. The food court's in full swing, too. It's all good!

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  1. Well, don't cry any tears for Reliable Market in Union Square I guess. I'm sure it's great but I like the Reliable.

    13 Replies
    1. re: tatsu

      I may be wrong, but think Camberville can support both stores. Harvest Co-op, though, is probably going to take a big hit.

      1. re: tatsu

        H-Mart doesn't sell booze, either. Hopefully that's enough for reliable to hold on.

        1. re: muscles_marinara

          There's a package store literally next door- walk out the back door of H Mart and you're standing at the back door to Libby's Liquors.

          1. re: Luther

            I'd highly recommend walking across the street over patronizing that place, unless you're buying nips, and maybe even then.

            1. re: CportJ

              Agreed. Supreme is far better than that other place (I have no idea what the name of it is, I always just think of it as "The Flavored Vodka Store").

              1. re: maillard

                Also agreed. Supreme has come a long, long way over the last several years. If you go back about 15 years I used to frequent whichever of the two was closest but over the last 7 or 8 I can't remember the last time I went into Libbys.

            2. re: Luther

              I wasn't trying to characterize this as a drawback to H-mart. I'm hopeful that it will be niche that the fine folks at Reliable can use to stay afloat. No liquor store that I've seen in the area has as good of a selection of Sojus and Sakes.

              Considering that I live about half a block from the new H-Mart, I'll be patronizing it far more than Reliable, but hit up Reliable when I'm in Union, just to give the indies some business. Good riddance to the dirty and overpriced Lotte, though.

              1. re: muscles_marinara

                I didn't even like lotte when I lived over there. It was good for an emergency gochujang run but that's about it.

                I live closer to reliable than hmart and I'd prefer not to deal with the insanity so I know where I'll tend to go

          2. re: tatsu

            I think Lotte is doomed, too. I know from sources that Reliable has been struggling since the Burlington H Mart opened.

            I'm pretty sure all the mom-and-pops are goners, including Han Ah Rheum in North Cambridge, which has been in decline, too.

            1. re: digga

              good reminder to me to go to Reliable much more often!

              1. re: digga

                Han Ah Rheum has been only half there for years, sadly. They're really only just open when the elderly owners feel like hanging out for a few hours, seems like. The last two times I've tried to go and pick up some of their terrific house-made kimchi, they've been closed during posted hours.

                1. re: digga

                  Sadly, Lotte Market already closed (a few weeks ago).

                  1. re: digga

                    I won't miss Lotte, but I hope reliable selling beer/wine/soju will be enough to pull them through.

                2. I am SO excited about this!

                  1. Madhouse right now in food court. Plenty of seats, but there is only 1 cashier for both ramen and curry shops, so it's a long wait. (Curry folks say they will soon get their own cashier.) Pastry line is fine.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: lossless

                      If you eat anything, please post a review. I am almost unreasonably excited about having this place so close by & was amazed to see what was done with the former Harvest food-court space - beautiful!

                      1. re: pocketviking

                        Maybe not today - just finished my grocery shopping and the line is the same. Ramen menu looks pretty much like Porter Sapporo with minor mods. Curious to try the curry.

                        1. re: pocketviking

                          Curry is your average Japanese curry. The lack of vegetables besides shredded cabbage bothers me though. I think I'm gonna stick to cooking my own vermont curry mix with onions carrots and potatoes, taste better and way cheaper, plus more veg. They do have the deal for $5 for a single size of any meat curry, without that it's def not worth it.

                          Sapporo ramen taste like its porter square sister store. Meh.

                      2. Are the produce display cases chilled/misted? Absence of that amenity makes the Burlington store hit-or-miss. You can find pristine stuff there if it's just arrived, but a few days of sitting at room temp renders much of it undesirable. Things arrive continually, so there's always a mix of crisp here, crumpled there.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: greygarious

                          LOTS of misting! I noticed it several times while I was walking around the produce section.

                          They've used the space really well. It's MUCH nicer than the Burlington store, although of course it's only day one; hopefully it stays relatively clean.

                          Harvest downsized so much when they moved across the street that there's not as much overlap in products as there would have been before. I think their real target is Whole Foods, especially re the meat/fish/produce sections. I looked at the fish counter and it was MUCH better looking than at Whole Foods, and the meat selections looked excellent too.

                          I tried a sandwich and a canele from Paris Baguette. Both were good; neither made me swoon. I'll definitely be back for the other food court stops.

                          1. re: MichaelB

                            Good thing about the misting. I've been hoping in vain that Burlington would install it at some point, but it's been a couple of years now.

                            The things I've tried from the Tous les Jours bakery in the Burlington H-Mart have LOOKed gorgeous but lacked flavor. Cottony white flour texture, not much butter/egg where richness is called for, and too sugary.

                            1. re: greygarious

                              The hell? I’ve always been told misting makes your produce dewy-eyed while it rots faster. Am I missing something?

                              1. re: enhF94

                                I don't think so. A damp paper towel in the veggie bag keeps herbs fresh longer. Works with mint especially well.

                                1. re: tatsu

                                  ah, found my source for this: Alton suggests some, but minimal, moisture on a towel to give back water to greens as needed, but not enough to promote rotting. Also oxygen deprivation, but that’s not going to happen in a grocery.

                                  http://bit.ly/1igyz06

                                2. re: enhF94

                                  My experience with misting is not that positive. Makes a lot of veggies rot faster, especially the more delicate ones.

                                  1. re: smtucker

                                    I believe the cases that have misters are also chilled, aren't they? Automatic misters in the produce section have only been around for a few decades. I think keeping the produce cold is more important than dampening it.

                            2. re: greygarious

                              Also, however, I did notice a lot of produce that was cling-wrapped onto foam trays. I imagine it might have just been for opening, but I don't love not being able to really get a good look at the produce I'm buying. Really was tons of misting on the other stuff though, especially the greens.

                            3. Re: curry, they are having a special $5 sale on almost all curries. From today until 5/5. They were handing out coupons and also telling people to just let the cashier know if you don't have a coupon + you'll get your deal regardless.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: lossless

                                I got a coupon booklet in the mail for the grand opening week(s). I think it's good for 1-2 weeks.

                                1. re: catsmeow

                                  The one I grabbed on the counter (sadly, before they opened so I couldn't grab myself a lunch to eat at work) has a big red "May 5th" sticker on it.

                              2. Cannot wait for a local source for black pepper Spam!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                  Saw it in there, along with a number of other varieties!

                                2. Lemongrass? That is so awesome! I thought they'd only have Korean and Japanese groceries. Going after work!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: LilBrownBat

                                    That, some standard american stuff, and much more. Prices looked totally decent. Good selection.

                                  2. Went to opening this A.M. Pretty spectacular, raises the bar. Like EATALY by way of Korea. And: The only retail store in Boston to carry the best beef that money can buy in the U.S.: Snake River Farms.

                                    1. For those who might not know the precise location of the H-Mart, it is 581 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA.

                                      I presume that the store has no parking lot. Parking in Central Square is a hassle.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: VivreManger

                                        Maybe there will still be a bit of parking in their own lot on Essex, like there was for the Harvest. Then there are two city metered lots right there. It's basically surrounded by parking lots. But they are smaller than a regular grocery store parking lot and yes, in general, parking is a hassle.

                                        1. re: VivreManger

                                          This post gives good overview of the available parking around the store.

                                          http://japaneseamericaninboston.blogs...

                                          "I was surprised that parking wasn't as hard as I expected although I may have just gotten lucky. I found an open spot on Bishop Allen Drive as soon as I crossed Norfolk Street and one empty parking space in the lot. When I left there were several empty spaces in the lot and on the street. If people don't stay long then there will be turnover in spaces, although if you can leave your car at home and take the T that's probably better, especially on weekends. You definitely don't want to drive there on Mondays when the Central Square Farmers Market takes over most of Lot 5. You can also try Lot 4 at the corner of Bishop Allen and Essex Street but it's really small as is H Mart's private parking lot off Essex Street. There's also Lot 6 near Columbia Street."

                                          1. re: lossless

                                            The easiest parking is in the garage on Green St. You'll have to carry your groceries a block, but it will save a lot of frustration. Those surface lots and Bishop Allen are on my to-avoid list.

                                          2. re: VivreManger

                                            If you go during off-hours (evenings, weekends) the Green Street garage is a block away, and not pricey - $1.50/$2.00 per hour, something like that.

                                          3. Most importantly, is it:
                                            H Mart
                                            H-mart
                                            Hmart
                                            ?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: lossless

                                              I believe it is H Mart.

                                            2. By the time I got there (around 7:30PM) both Go Go curry and Sapporo Ramen were entirely sold out!

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: addiez

                                                OK, so the five dollar special yesterday seduced me into trying Go Go Curry yesterday.

                                                I am tempted to re-name it Don't Go Don't Go Curry.

                                                A gloppy brown sauce, kind of like old style egg foo yong gravy, with little discernable curry flavor but lots of MSG, covers a rectangle of white rice. You get your fried protein of choice on top (mine two weirdly elongated and tasteless fried shrimp decorated with a spritz of sweet mayo) and a handful of very thinly shredded cabbage, a vague memory of something vegetable and green.

                                                Don't get me wrong--I scarfed it down, but was left feeling queasy for the rest of the evening. I don't recommend this.

                                                1. re: femmevox

                                                  Well, that's a general description of Japanese curry, so...

                                                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                    What Jenny said. To put it bluntly, Japanese curry is junk food. A writeup on Go Go Curry in Serious Eats New York (http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2010/0...) likens it to mac and cheese: yes, it's possible that your mom made it lovingly from scratch and that's all you ever ate, but it's more likely that most of your experiences were of the junky processed variety. Think of it like blue-box Kraft mac, set your expectations accordingly, and you can have a perfectly enjoyable experience. I love an occasional dose of the stuff myself, but if I want an Indian "curry" or a Thai "curry" or a Vietnamese "curry", I don't order "curry" in a Japanese restaurant.

                                              2. I went after work -- it was a total mob scene (really too crowded to look around) so I ducked out pretty quick without buying anything (no, I'm not waiting in a 20-deep line, sorry). My take: Korean groceries, a small number of Japanese items, very little of anything else. Nice looking meat but not cheap. Couldn't get near the produce. I'll return when things have calmed down a bit (like in three or four months maybe).

                                                10 Replies
                                                1. re: LilBrownBat

                                                  Your loss, I guess!

                                                  1. re: newhound

                                                    My loss how? I'll go again when it's less of a zoo and when I need Korean groceries. It's a nice store, but I don't do a lot of Korean cooking, and I'm not sure why else I'd go to a primarily Korean supermarket unless it was really convenient (and H Mart isn't for me).

                                                    1. re: LilBrownBat

                                                      Well, there are like twenty varieties of Spam that you'll be missing... ;-)

                                                      1. re: newhound

                                                        You have a point, except doesn't Spam have a shelf life greater than the half life of plutonium-244? So I could take 80 million years to get back to H Mart, and the twenty varieties of Spam should still be there waiting for me ;-)

                                                        1. re: LilBrownBat

                                                          Yeah, on second thought maybe Spam is a good thing to miss out on. It's amazing how an American military presence in a country leaves such a dreadful culinary legacy.

                                                      2. re: LilBrownBat

                                                        I do NO Korean cooking. I go to H-Mart for produce, fresh meat and fish, and condiments from different Asian countries.

                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                          The supply of non-Korean groceries seemed pretty limited to me, certainly no better than, say, Hong Kong Supermarket. I mostly do southeast Asian cooking, and there isn't really a good supermarket for that in the Boston area that I know of.

                                                          1. re: LilBrownBat

                                                            There are several in Lynn.

                                                            1. re: LilBrownBat

                                                              and lowell.

                                                              1. re: LilBrownBat

                                                                My Korean friend reported that there is a notable lack of Korean items at the CS locations. Items that are sold in Burlington and New Jersey. Esp produce. Seems targeted toward a different clientele

                                                      3. Mind completely blown. This place is beautiful. It's still a total mob scene today, though. The line at the food-court looked 30 deep, which seems a little silly. If you sign up for an H Mart discount card out back today, they'll give you a pleasant plastic serving-dish.

                                                        But I second you guys' concerns for the fate of Reliable Market, and for Harvest Co-op... I was floating like a butterfly walking around this place, but when I came back out onto Mass Ave, I saw Harvest and immediately felt a tug of guilt and sadness...

                                                        12 Replies
                                                        1. re: eatinjeff

                                                          I agree about Harvest and will continue to support it for things like Earth Balance and my favorite vegan mayo, but it's pretty clear they will take a hit.

                                                          Reliable is such a resource for people in Union Square that I hope they can hang on. It's another place I will continue to support. If they can last through the Green Line expansion, and God know how long that will take, they should be okay as long as the rent does not go up. Union Square is going to go through some big changes.

                                                          1. re: mvi

                                                            I feel bad about Harvest, except that every time I've bought milk or cream there in the past few months, it's been spoiled. I want them to be better than they are. On the other hand, is there that much overlap in offerings between Harvest and H Mart?

                                                            1. re: maillard

                                                              I was thinking the same. When I heard that Hmart was opening there I thought it would compete with Prospect St WF, the former Lotte, and Star.

                                                              But then again I've only shopped at Harvest ( both locations inCentral) for the bulk bins, chocolate bars, and beer. I've never been to impressed with the rest of the store.

                                                              1. re: viperlush

                                                                Does H Mart have organic products? If so, how's the selection?

                                                                1. re: viperlush

                                                                  I always wanted to like Harvest, but never did. The produce was so unimpressive, though I did like some of the bulk bin items. I feel a lot worse about Reliable....

                                                                2. re: maillard

                                                                  Feel the same. Tend to go to Harvest for bulk spices only & am disappointed with everything else. There's a lot of overlap - dairy, produce, poultry, prepared foods, frozen foods - & Harvest prices are high.

                                                                3. re: mvi

                                                                  The building that the Reliable is currently renting is scheduled for demolition in the current plan for Union Square redevelopment. Quite a few of us have attended numerous public meetings hoping to change this use plan. The timeline has changed so often I can no longer remember how many years out this part of the plan will be implemented.

                                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                                    Are you sure about that? I just double checked the current revitalization plan and the exact spot that Reliable is in isn't even shaded as "rehabilitation", much less "clearance". Perhaps I'm not looking at the right thing here though.

                                                                    1. re: jgg13

                                                                      I will search through papers when I get home. If this isn't the plan anymore, I will be mighty happy!

                                                                      1. re: smtucker

                                                                        Don't get too excited, I just quickly skimmed the current report in the website. I just hadn't though that particular section was getting knocked down which is why I looked

                                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                                          I can not find that folder right now.... but different published plans seem to say slightly different things.

                                                                          The Master Plan indicates that this block, called the Warren Block will be redeveloped. Look at some early maps, but especially page 22 and 24.
                                                                          http://www.somervillema.gov/sites/def...

                                                                          Then the revitalization plan notes the Warren Block on page 26, but doesn't have the building marked as "for demolition" on the next map on page 27.
                                                                          http://www.somervillema.gov/sites/def...

                                                                          The call for Developers, which is the most recent of the documents, marks D-7, the Warren Block as a redevelopment zone and has a picture of a possible building which is definitely NOT what is there now. You can find this on page 23.
                                                                          http://www.somervillema.gov/sites/def...

                                                                          The meetings I have gone to indicate that this parcel will have a parking garage along with new construction. The building has been called an eyesore by a number of the presenters.

                                                                          To keep this all about the food, the Reliable's recent renovations have increased the freshness of the products and they have begun to add some distinctly non-Korean ingredients, to bring in more Western customers. The banchan storage is greatly improved especially.

                                                                          1. re: smtucker

                                                                            thanks for the info. Going to Reliable tomorrow.

                                                              2. Friday at 4pm: no line at the ramen/curry cashier, but I was told it would be a 30min wait for either dish. Then I was reminded sternly that I should feel "very lucky" that it's only (!) 30min, because a couple of hours ago, the wait was 40min. So lucky!

                                                                10 Replies
                                                                1. re: lossless

                                                                  Would someone please describe what the curry tastes like? From reading a vague description on their site, I understand it's not like the curry in Indian food. Thx.

                                                                  1. re: catsmeow

                                                                    Looks like it's a Japanese curry, which is much sweeter and less spicy than an Indian curry.

                                                                    1. re: catsmeow

                                                                      If it's anything like the Go Go Curry in NYC, it'll be sweeter and not spicy at all.

                                                                      I'm not a fan, but I tend not to like sweeter non-dessert foods.

                                                                      1. re: jmarya

                                                                        I believe it's the same chain, right? I wonder if Korean curry is any different than Japanese curry (which, for me, is a guilty pleasure on the level of Velveeta: not really food, but sometimes you want it anyway).

                                                                        1. re: LilBrownBat

                                                                          Does anyone know if they have vegetarian curry? I quickly glanced yesterday during 6 p.m. madness and didn't see any. My son will be quite happy if they do, but if not, Sapporo does a nice veggie ramen.

                                                                          1. re: LilBrownBat

                                                                            It's definitely the same chain. I believe it's Japanese, not Korean, so probably exactly what you're thinking of (sweet, kind of thick sauce over katsu.)

                                                                            I used to work a block away from the Go Go Curry in NYC (when I lived there), and I went once and never really went back.

                                                                            1. re: jmarya

                                                                              H Mart was actually out of both curry and ramen before 6 PM today.

                                                                      2. re: lossless

                                                                        How are the food stalls arranged? Haven't been to the Burlington location; is it like Super 88 in Allston? Am thinking of going there midweek but want to take my toddler as well. just wondering the logistics whether there are plenty of tables and avail of high chairs?

                                                                        1. re: y2000k

                                                                          If you enter from Mass Ave, there's Paris Baguette on your left and a bunch of seats on your right. As you go further down the long wide corridor, you'll come to the curry place and Sapporo Ramen on your right, with a few more seats on your left. Right now there are not really enough seats--I saw people waiting, food in hand, and then pouncing "Excuse me, I was waiting for that--etc." I can't speak to the high chair situation.

                                                                          There's still a huge flurry because of the opening, so maybe the crush'll die down--but I live in the neighborhood and have seen the seats fully book from day till past 10 PM. Place closes at eleven.

                                                                          Beyond Sapporo Ramen are about six checkout aisles. You can walk around them to the supermarket.

                                                                          1. re: femmevox

                                                                            Thanks!

                                                                      3. o.k. i'm going to take a stab at this. 'Curry' in japanese cuisine (and chinese cuisine too, ime) tastes like your typical Madras style curry powder (where cumin and coriander seed and turmeric play important roles) but it usually has a lighter flavor (Kind of like comparing a watercolor to an oil painting.) The Japanese pronounce it 'kari' and i think i read recently that it is the single most popular not-originally -Japanese food in Japan.(or something like that.)
                                                                        In Japan, most housewives use cubes of curry base(add water) to make the thick sauce. It also has sugar and soy sauce and msg i believe. You can buy those cubes in any Japanese/Asian store- like Reliable; diff brands and mild, spicy etc.

                                                                        I have not yet mastered the home-made duplication of these cubes, regardless of recipes i've found. :-{

                                                                        Indian 'curry' does not exist in India but dishes have been called 'curry' by the Brits and others,adapted into food like 'curried lamb turnovers', 'curried lentils' etc. Each dish in India uses a different group of spices plus a diff combination of additives like ginger, onion, tomato, cream, nuts,hot chiles, to create sauces like 'korma', 'tikka masala', 'vindaloo' (and those are all Northern Indian cuisine) or others for Southern Indian/Vegetarian cuisine.

                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                          The Burlington H-Mart originally had an Indian stall in its food court. I liked their food, but apparently they didn't do enough business since they did not last long. That adds credence to the idea that Japanese and Chinese curries are different from Indian versions.

                                                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                            Small fix: Japanese pronunciation is "kare", kah-reh.

                                                                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                              Thank you opinionated chef. Interesting. I'll get over there in the next week or 2 to try it.

                                                                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                Very useful overview of this, thank you!! I was wondering about Japanese curries too; I've avoided them without good reason (at the Porter Sq Japanese corridor, for example) but now that I know more they actually sounds potentially quite nice...!

                                                                                1. re: eatinjeff

                                                                                  It would be interesting to find out if the majority of Japanese restnt chefs, in Japan AND U.S., use pre-made curry base (my hunch) or if they make their own. I believe that it is expected that Japanese ramen shops make their own broths, but i don't know if that same expectation holds true for curry shops.....

                                                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                    Eating establishments generally use the commercial roux and then tweak it with additional seasonings like fruit or spices.

                                                                                    1. re: Luther

                                                                                      fruit? tell me about that, luther.

                                                                                      and you are speaking about U.S., yes? or is that true in Japan too? if it's true in Japan, i bet somewhere there's some Kare chef that is famous in a Jiro sort of way.

                                                                                      l, have you ever seen The Recipe?Prob my fav of all Asian food films.
                                                                                      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1773083/?...

                                                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                        Well, then, you obviously haven't seen this recipe.

                                                                                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rxg67...
                                                                                        http://norecipes.com/karei-raisu-japa...

                                                                                        I haven't had time to make J-curry from scratch yet. But this is going to be the one I'm using for my first attempt.

                                                                                        I also remember seeing some "gourmet" J-curry roux blocks that featured fruits as an ingredient. I'm pretty sure I found it in Porter Sq when that market was still in business.

                                                                                        1. re: cutipie721

                                                                                          721, have been meaning to th you for this recipe. looks excellent and i intend to make it..
                                                                                          btw, it appears to be apple that is the primary fruit used, which makes sense to me.

                                                                              2. I don't really feel bad for Harvest. Aside from the bulk spices, which allowed me to buy just what I needed for a recipe, but didn't have any other advantages over bottled spices, I've never found much to recommend it over the much greater convenience and variety of WFM. And nowadays one can presumably get good bulk spices from Penzeys. Furthermore, H Mart's use of the space made it painfully evident how Harvest was wasting space.

                                                                                10 Replies
                                                                                1. re: KWagle

                                                                                  One could get spices from Penzey's, if they had reasonable hours of operation...but they don't.

                                                                                  1. re: LilBrownBat

                                                                                    you can buy penzey's from the interwebz.

                                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                      free shipping over $30

                                                                                    2. re: LilBrownBat

                                                                                      Or Christinas which has the same problem. Which is why I tend to order from either the spice house (a penzey's offshoot which i prefer) or penzys.

                                                                                      1. re: jgg13

                                                                                        I went to the Spice House once. It's a pretty cool place. But I think I've never been to a Penzey's store.

                                                                                        1. re: KWagle

                                                                                          I don't think that Penzey's does self-serve bulk spices.

                                                                                          Debra's Natural Gourmet in West Concord has a broad selection of (mostly) Frontier Spices that are very fresh and reasonably priced. It's a much larger selection than the Fresh Pond Whole Foods/

                                                                                          1. re: KWagle

                                                                                            I've never physically been in a spice house, and only in a penzys once (and not even the local one, oddly enough).

                                                                                            Many moons ago I first ordered from SH as they were the first place I found that would sell sichuan peppercorns. Once I learned the backstory I appreciated how they were the mom & pop younger sibling of Penzeys. These days the SH is all growed up themselves, but still a smaller outfit than Penzeys.

                                                                                            1. re: jgg13

                                                                                              I've been to both Penzey's and Spice House many times and their products are very similar but their attitudes couldn't be more different

                                                                                              Penzey's = mom jeans
                                                                                              Spice House = snooty hipster

                                                                                              SH does carry some unique and interesting stuff though

                                                                                      2. re: KWagle

                                                                                        I walked through Harvest one day as a short cut to the farmers market in the parking lot, and wondered as I saw a person in the produce dept., picking through worn, limp vegetables when there was great local produce a few steps away.

                                                                                        1. re: Madrid

                                                                                          The produce at Harvest is abysmal. If they see a hit due to the opening of HMart (for whatever reason), they could step up their game with the produce. I walk over to the Whole Foods on Prospect for produce during the off season, although I'd rather buy it from Harvest. In the spring/summer/fall, farmers markets are the way to go.

                                                                                      3. The samples continue to flow! At least, the bulgogi, soup, and noodles that I've seen all three times I've been in (and on Saturday, they went ballsy with a really tasty raw fish sample). And that marinated bulgogi was on sale for 2.99/pound this evening, so there went my original cooking plans for dinner.

                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: caromk

                                                                                          please report back about the bulgogi? have tried some of the prepared foods from the burlington h-mart and been underwhelmed.

                                                                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                            The bulgogi was marinated but raw. Hmart, in Cambridge at least, has a whole marinated raw meat bar. I am still processing the existence of a marinated meat bar, as this is my first. It is so easy to grab the meat and cook it up at home, it about makes up for no Korean food in the food court. (And I assume the health department had to approve so I can ignore my food safety thoughts.)

                                                                                            So report on the bulgogi. I enjoy bulgogi but am not a connoisseur. I cooked up the bulgogi I bought over the stove in a cast iron skillet and it was very tasty. (Which I knew, because I've had several samples of it.) I would definitely buy it again (especially at 2.99/pound). The texture came out a bit different than the bulgogi I get in my bibimbap at Misono at Super 88. But that may be the cut of meat or lack of experience cooking it.

                                                                                          2. re: caromk

                                                                                            Stock up on the bulgogi when it's on sale like that! We get it from the H Mart in Burlington and it's great stuff which adds a tasty component to any meal. I added some to some packaged udon soup noodles with broth packet (in the refrigerated noodle section) and it was delicious! Hmm, maybe this is bulgogi sale week at Burlington too. I still have some room in my chest freezer....

                                                                                            The sale flyer at http://www.hmart.com/company_new/coup... doesn't list the $2.99 price but there's a $4.99 price. I know where I'm going tomorrow!

                                                                                            On a side note, I happened to be in Allston today and needed some rice and seaweed for the onigiri obsession my family is currently enjoying, so I stopped into Super 88, the first time I'd been there in years. I didn't realize how much H Mart has spoiled me! I never notice any sort of smell at H Mart but it's prominent at Super 88. The lighting is dingy and miserable. Also I really need to remember to appreciate the H Mart cashiers... Super 88's didn't speak a word to me the entire transaction and chatted to each other in their native language the entire time, H Mart's cashiers are usually very pleasant and friendly and even if they aren't fluent in English, they always seem to manage a "hello" and a "thank you". Even the food court seemed to be a pale shadow of its former self, although you just can't beat that $4 grilled pork banh mi at Pho Viet.

                                                                                            1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                              I get the feeling that Super 88's owners have just given up on it... The wilted and rotting vegetables, the abominable food-court bathroom, the general atmosphere of "last resort"... It's a shame, because the fine food-court itself inspires a passion for Asian food and ingredients which would be a boon for an adjacent Asian grocery, if only this one made more of an effort...!

                                                                                              1. re: eatinjeff

                                                                                                The bathroom in Super 88 is surprisingly terrible. It makes me feel like someone has given up.

                                                                                                But I like the store. Sure it's dingy and barebones and the produce doesn't last long. But in exchange, the produce (and the meat) is cheap, as are a lot of hard to find ingredients, and I've made myself many good meals from Super 88 ingredients. I did a lot of my shopping there when I lived in Allston and now that I live in Cambridge, any excuse to go to Allston results in me returning with a huge bag of groceries from Super 88. (And possibly liquor from Blanchard's and more groceries from Bazaar.) I am excited that Hmart will save me dragging heavy bags back to Cambridge, but Hmart's luxury does, unsurprisingly, mean everything's more expensive. (But cheaper than Harvest Cambridge, thank goodness, because their produce is often wilted and expensive.)

                                                                                                1. re: caromk

                                                                                                  I hate to break it to you guys, but the mens room in the Super 88 has actually gotten BETTER than it used to be. 8-10 years ago, the mens room always had a solid half-inch of what you kept telling yourself was only water on the floor at all times.

                                                                                          3. A post about my experience going there today (Wed) for lunch and shopping with my 18 month toddler.

                                                                                            We arrived at 12noon and altho it wasn't a mad scene, lines were long and seating was hard to come by. Could not see any high chairs available (saw a family with 2 kids crouched on the chairs plus dad holding an infant with 1 arm and chopsticks with the other).

                                                                                            Quickly decided it wasn't ideal for us so we went next door for lunch at Dosa Factory.

                                                                                            Shopping at H mart afterwards. Never been to Burlington location. Very pleasantly surprised by how clean and tidy the whole place is (I'm so used to shopping a C-mart and Russos...). Not too packed. The only problem? The shopping carts are the small ones so you cannot put a toddler in it (you know the usual spot right behind the push handle). I suppose you can put your child in the main compartment but that means no restraints. Luckily my sis-in-law was with us so she held my toddler's hand while I did my shopping.

                                                                                            Thanks to advice here, got some marinated bulgogi at $4.99/lb.

                                                                                            Done shopping around 1:30pm and lines at both curry and ramen places were much shorter and many more open seats. Parking lot in back also had more open spaces (it was a fight to get a spot when I arrived at 12n). Also picked up some pastries from Paris Baguette. Yum!

                                                                                            Not sure if I'll venture back with toddler again, unless we go off hours like 2pm and bring our own high chair.

                                                                                            1. So many people are complaining about the language barrier that I only recommend one solution: Google Translate. Type what you want into your smartphone and translate to Korean with a cheerful thank you and voila! You will have a new positive retail experience, and couldnt we all use more of those!?!

                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: asowinski

                                                                                                Cheerful thank you would be "kam sah hohm ne dah"

                                                                                                1. re: asowinski

                                                                                                  winski, i went today for the first time. 99% of the 'shelf stocking' workers i saw and interacted with, were Latino. Asians at check out and cooking sample stations and fish counter. One helpful Asian guy bagging groceries (what a waste) must have been raised here; fluent American. Maybe he was a floating manager but if i return, i'm looking for HIM!......

                                                                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                    He spoke fluent American...

                                                                                                    1. re: ac106

                                                                                                      Hopefully without a Boston accent.

                                                                                                      1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                        wouldn't "fluent american" and "boston accent" be mutually exclusive? :)

                                                                                                        1. re: jgg13

                                                                                                          "wouldn't "fluent american" and "boston accent" be mutually exclusive?"

                                                                                                          I beg ya pahdon... naht funny.

                                                                                                2. Not sure if you guys noticed that H-Mart has been increasing prices for lots of goods this weekend especially on ice cream! There is a 6-pack soda ice bar was at $5.49 3 days ago and $ 6.99 on May 3rd and $7.99 on May 4th! Hagen daz 1 pint (14oz) was $4.99 and $5.99 on May 4th, Mikawaya mochi also increased from $5.99 to $6.99. Please note that you can get the Mikawaya mochi from Trader Joe's on Memorial Dr. for only $3.48/pack.. I don't know why they did such a stupid move, but I won't purchase from them!

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: SpicyIceland

                                                                                                    I went in today for the first time and felt the prices were higher than what I expected. None the less, I was dazzled and clearly need to learn more about Korean cooking.

                                                                                                    1. re: mvi

                                                                                                      It is very interesting to see them to increase the price day by day - in that case, I would rather learn how to cook Indian food from the grocery next to them, ha!

                                                                                                  2. How is the fish market at H Mart? Has anyone bought fish and how was it?

                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: BackBayGirl

                                                                                                      Check the Burlington H-Mart thread for more opinions. I have been very pleased with my fish purchases there. You need to use the numerical chart hanging there in order to communicate how much prepping you want them to do. They'll weigh a whole fish first, and you pay that price, but can have them do nothing to it, or all the way to getting just the fillets. When I bought squid there, I cleaned it at home and found SEVEN little silver fish, from barely an inch to over 2" in length, inside. So I picked up the tab for its last meal! Some of them still had clear eyes. The squid must have eaten just before it was caught, and not much time can have elapsed between then and my kitchen counter.

                                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                        Wow that's pretty wild!! Did you eat the little silver guys? Maybe deep-fry them like smelts...?

                                                                                                        1. re: eatinjeff

                                                                                                          I cooked them and gave them to the dogs,

                                                                                                      2. re: BackBayGirl

                                                                                                        I bought hamachi and tuna nigiri there today. Both seemed very fresh but the tuna was like Whole Foods'
                                                                                                        small pieces of susha tuna in a clear pak - flavorless. Or maybe there's something wrong with my tastebuds. The hamachi was o.k. but i got really excited when i saw it, and was hoping it would thrill me like it does at my sushi restnts. Not.

                                                                                                        1. re: BackBayGirl

                                                                                                          allstonian posted in another thread that they were lunching today on delicious mackerel and branzino that they had bought at H Mart, but i don't know which one.

                                                                                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                            Central Square.

                                                                                                        2. An H Mart opening in Cambridge...I think I can still feel the hipster groundswell all the way in the Seaport. It's a good hold over until that Japanese ramen chef who raises his own pigs on site shows up. Somerbridge might collapse on itself under all of that internet hype and subsequent foot traffic.

                                                                                                          I stopped by and it was a mad house, even a week+ later. It's a cleaner Super 88, which is nice, with some nice prepared food options. The bulgogi samples were tasty.

                                                                                                          1. H-Mart didn't have dumpling flour! Anyone know a great place to buy pork bun dumplings? Or a good recipe to make at home?

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: jcyumyum

                                                                                                              They have it at Super 88 in Malden.

                                                                                                            2. <Be sure to sign up for a Smart Card so you can cash in on the savings and their coupon book, which is mailed to you monthly.>
                                                                                                              Ican't remember where i saw this, but thought some CHs might find it useful.