My friend, Mel has been bugging me to check out a giant Korean grocery store that she frequents. It’s an hour’s drive from me but one day we decided to make a day of it and see what all the fuss was about.
I am no great chef, but I love Asian-inspired food. Occasionally, I get adventurous and try a few recipes. The thing about Asian food though is you really need the special ingredients like fish and oyster sauces, Jasmine and sushi rices, and the wonderful exotic veggies to get the flavor right.
We were totally hooked once we entered the store. It’s called H Mart (who knows why), but it’s got everything you need and all the stuff you didn’t know you needed. They had fresh and dried fish, squid, octopi, and all manner of seafood I never knew existed. There were also some unappetizing items like pork blood and giant live clams that looked like something Godzilla coughed up.
The exotic fruits and vegetables were my favorites. Luckily, they were giving away samples. I tried a small melon with flesh as sweet as an apple but soft as a peach. I forgot the name but I took one home along with the biggest grapes I’ve ever seen.
We bought some hot mustard powder for the next time we have egg rolls, a chili garlic paste that looked promising, and adzuki and mung beans which I hope I can sprout.
It’s a shame H Mart is so far, but at least now I know where to go when I’m hunting for exotic spices, mushrooms, or fish.
A lot of people don’t realize this, but ethnic grocery stores tend to have cheaper prices than the same items bought in a non-ethnic store. The only bad thing about H Mart is that nearly everything was in Korean, though sometimes it had a few words of English so you knew what you were buying.
It was great fun just to stroll the aisles. I know we’ll be going back.
We got hungry while we were there so we tried out their restaurant. Wow! Aside from the fact that it was complicated to actually get your food–everything was delicious. You ordered from one location but to get your food you had to find it from among several kitchens. (Sorry I didn’t snap a picture, but all thoughts of photography fled when we saw our food.)
Do you like Asian food? What’s your favorite dish? Mongolian beef is the current reigning favorite.
Have you ever tried an ethnic grocery store?