Tuesday, December 7, 2010

H Mart food court

7050 Terminal Square
Upper Darby, PA 19082
(610) 734-1001

I love Asian-specific grocery stores. I am lucky enough to live near several, all of which vary wildly in selection, pricing and cleanliness. Save for a couple of shops due north of center city in Cheltenham, all of my local stores are severely lacking in one very important component - prepared sides. More specifically, Korean prepared sides. Enter H Mart.

Not only does H Mart have a vast variety of prepared sides, they have an Asian food court to boot. While the Chinese and Japanese stands looked okay, I had to go for the Korean. The food in this court is not cheap, it is about a dollar or two less per dish than you would normally pay at any free-standing restaurant. This seemed to be the case with each of the stands, but I am always willing to eat some Korean food (and at any price) - or any food, for that matter.

We went with the Ojingo Bokum, which consists of ample amounts of squid, stir fried in spicy sauce, onions, scallions, and hot pepper sauce. The squid was good, spicy, well-cooked and plentiful. Oddly enough it was served with plain white noodles and shredded lettuce, which we had never seen before. The sides were just okay. The miso was flavorless, but the kimchi was tasty. The others were utterly forgettable. All in all, a filling and savory seafood dish, and much better than one might expect from the upstairs food court in a supermarket.

We also picked the Daeji Bulgogi, which is a spicy BBQ pork dish, and came with the same sides. This dish was even better than the first, with tender spicy pork and stir-fried onions, it really hit the spot on a cold weeknight deep in West Philly.

On to the market, which was the whole point of this excursion in the first place. The produce selection was similar to each of the markets on 2nd & Spring Garden, 6th & Washington and 4th & Oregon. No big surprises. Everything was VERY clean though, and it seemed to have a much faster product turn-over than its more centrally located counterparts. It just seemed fresher.

Where the H Mart really shined, was the prepared foods section. They had a vast array of marinated meats, side dishes and about a dozen styles and flavors of pancakes, from red pepper to kimchi.

The hardest part was figuring out what NOT to buy. Although the side dishes are also kind of pricey here, they more than make up for it in flavor, ingredients and freshness. I had some of the best fermented black beans ever, as well as some incredible seasoned, spicy radish. This place is worth checking out for the prepared foods alone, and the food court is just another incentive.

Overall, I would not go back for the food court, but I will sure as heck be back for the prepared foods. I mean, they had about a dozen kinds of gochujang alone. What's not to love?


faeriesiniceland said...

Thank you for this post. I am moving to Philadelphia in 2 weeks and I love H-Mart and was hoping to get a little preview of the store in West Philly. Which one would you say it better: the one up near Olney or the one you highlighted here? It is a shame that a lot of the best Korean places appear to be up in the Olney area... ah well, only a 30 minute train ride or so.

Could you please tell me if there are any Japanese markets, bakeries, or sweet/candy shops around the city? I'm aware of Maido near Narbeth, but I was hoping there would be some actually within the city.

Departing a bit, but what about Portuguese bakeries? I tried out the egg tarts at the Chinese bakeries when I was there last week and I don't think they compare to Pastel de Nata, the Portuguese egg tarts.

Anonymous said...

The problem lies in that Philly doesn't have a large Korean community. There are some Koreans in Upper Darby, with most being in North Philly.

With the Asian community here being mostly Vietnamese/Chinese/Cambodian, you will see these markets in abundance. South Philly has a lot of markets and restaurants catering to those nationalities.