This afternoon I discovered a little slice of foodie heaven in Edison, NJ. The newly opened H Mart in a strip mall off of Rt 27 offers a bit of everything for everyone. The 34th store location of this Korean chain supermarket, it offers a food court, bakery, clothes, housegoods, and a store of random Asian tcotchkes all within the massive food emporium.
In a town with close to 100,000 population, Asians make up nearly 40% of Edison's population with Koreans a little under 10%. With statistics like that, it's no wonder there are two other large Asian supermarkets within a 10-mile radius.
What I love most about shopping at an Asian supermarket vs your typical Shop Rite or A&P are the prices, freshness and plethora of options. Asian supermarkets don't try to hide where your food comes from, but displays it in all its glory. Yes, seeing a whole duck (with head) hanging in the window may be a little frightening, but at least I know what I'm eating and can appreciate it fully. It brings the entire concept of farm to table into another light.
Shoppers entering H Mart are immediately greeted to loud, karaoke pop music playing over the intercom coming from the random stage with microphone on the side of the food court (is there a karaoke night here??). It gives a slightly bizarre, disco feel to the place. The random shops of cheap clothes with Asian housewares next door only adds to the surreal quality. That aside, the shopper is then bombarded with well displayed samplings of all the yummy items for sale in the store including dried persimmons, udon noodles, fresh snails, mud fish, and mandoo (Korean dumplings). There is one whole wall dedicated to miso, another whole aisle for seaweed and chili, and Asian snacks galore. Unfortunately, I was greeted with a much hated "no photo" sign at the door so I had to covertly sneak a few shots from my Blackberry.
In the middle of the aisle by the meats, there was a sign proclaiming February was Pork Month and a butcher with a whole pig (I watched in horror/fascination as he neatly chopped off his hind legs in front of me) was cutting off slabs of pork belly to the crowd of shoppers vying to get the best cut. According to the man running the sample demo of the pork belly alongside, that pig had been alive and kicking just that morning. "Very fresh!" he assured me. I can't argue with that. I love pork belly in every which way, so I picked up a pound to make my miso pork belly (I will be posting this recipe tomorrow!).
The best part of the supermarket is all the fresh prepared foods such as the large assortment of sushi and sashimi by the seafood area, salad bar of marinated meats for a Korean BBQ house-party along with all of its accoutrements, and fresh house-made kimchi!
H Mart is definitely a must visit if you have it in your area. Though I have read that some are not as well-curated or laid out as the newest Edison location. You never know what you will find there.
1761 Route 27
Edison, NJ 08817
Phone: (732) 339-1530