Sunday, April 27, 2008

The "H" stands for "Holy cow!"

I was googling around to see if there were any places in Denver that sell bento stuff (shut up. I am not obsessing on it), and saw a mention of H-Mart. It's over in Aurora, east of Denver, and has been there four years, but this is the first I've heard of it. I usually do my Asian shopping on the west side of town, which tends more toward Vietnamese. (H-Mart is Korean, though it covers all the Asian bases, plus Hispanic and some Middle Eastern.) The place is huge.

They have lots of greens:
Including bac ha (which you may recall me wondering about after my visit to the Berkeley Bowl). Good to know I can get it here and don't have to beg White on Rice Couple to send me some.
There's also burdock and banana flowers. I took note of the burdock because I saw a recipe recently from Habeas Brulee that I want to try. But what do you do with banana flowers?
There was, of course, the obligatory durian. Frozen so it doesn't stink up the whole store.

I confess, I've never eaten it. Should I buy one to try? What should I do with it? Eat it straight or try to cook with it?

Maybe make durian ice cream?
I also did not get the sweet tamarind, which I saw a post about the other day on Lunch in a Box. Wherein it is called "poop fruit" by the 3-year-old taste tester.
There are some things there I will have to research. What the heck are Job's Tears?
The store has a lot of convenience foods, including one I'm sure I will return for: ready-to-grill bulgogi, both beef and pork.
If you like kimchi, you can buy it in small containers or several pounds' worth.
Among the prepackaged foods were delicacies such as octopus. Which I really like, but it was a little too expensive.
They had regular snails and these larger ones, though I wonder about the "cooked" part. Why cooked? Why not fresh?
The produce here wasn't all that great, really, but the seafood just goes on and on.
And on and on.
The prices are really cheap, too. Isn't monkfish supposed to be expensive?
And the shrimp! I'm going back for the shrimp, at these prices.
And maybe one of these days I'll cook goat, too.
The store also has some kitchen goods, but the selection is just a hodgepodge and not very comprehensive.
But wait! There's a "shopping mall" inside the store, too. There's a massage place, sushi restaurant, Verizon store and Western Union, a quilt store, a gift shop ...
I picked up the Hello Kitty chopsticks. And then I put them down again.
I did get a lot of good stuff!
H-Mart has a lot of buy-one-get-one-free specials and other sales.
  • Two big packages of organic soba and somen noodles.
  • Grapeseed oil was $8, which is cheap! I like it because it has a very high smoking point.
  • Fermented black beans (because I still plan to make Steamy Kitchen's Steamed Spareribs in Black Bean Sauce one of these days.
  • Cheap fennel! (99 cents.)
  • Kinda wilty yu choi, but I've been craving some.
  • Dumpling wrappers. Must make jiaozi.
  • Water chestnuts! I haven't had fresh ones since China. They were my long-distance-bus-ride snack.
  • Pomegranate molasses. From Lebanon. Go figure.
  • Yasai Fumi Furikake and Goma Shio Furikake, which are seasonings for rice balls or french fries. The former has sesame seeds, carrot, spinach, pumpkin, celery, Japanese mustard plants, potato starch, sugar, salt, and seaweed. The latter is just salt and roasted sesame seeds. (Oh! I forgot to upload a photo of the Pokemon furikake. I'm guessing it's little packets of seasoning to go in kids' lunchboxes. If you know for sure, please tell me!)
  • Coconut milk and coconut cream, for making sweet rice. I'm going to put some mango in it.
  • Rice.
  • Beautiful radish sprouts.
  • Mandarin oranges.
  • Kewpie mayonnaise. I was all out!
  • Puffed rice things that are a good snack. (Is there a specific word for these?)
  • Last, but not least, a BOGO purchase of Lotte ChocoPies. Think mallomars, but with less marshmallow. I've already eaten four.

Total cost: $47. The spices, molasses and the grapeseed oil were the most expensive items, but they also last a long time. The perishable stuff was all pretty cheap.

Guess I can get a bento lunch or two out of it!


  1. What an incredible store! Nothing like this exists here, we have a chinese emporium and a good spice shop but that's about it.. your buys look interesting..what on earth is Kewpie mayonnaise? I'm pretty sure I tried durian once but can't remember what it was like, I'll never forget the tamarind though! :O)

  2. I've been meaning to get to H-mart ever since we moved here. Apparently, the produce gets better in summer. Try goat (we call it mutton and I was surprised to find out that mutton means meat of an older sheep out here) - it's leaner than lamb, does not have a gamy taste, and can be very tender. It is excellent in curries. As for banana flowers - personally I think they are overrated. These are curried with coconut and are considered healthy from Thailand to Malaysia to India. I found fresh tamarind in the Boulder Safeway once. Maybe this summer I might finally make it to H-Mart!

  3. Wow i have never seen such a variety of odd items! That is so cool!

  4. You visit some amazing stores. I wish they had more of them up here in Canada. :)

  5. You can get fresh goat? I'm jealous. I'm craving a birria taco right now.

  6. Wow!! This is a serious destination for Asian goods! Who knew that Colorado had a Asian population big enough to need an H store!
    All the Asians I know hate the cold, well at least in my immediate family! :)

  7. I heard every Asian language I can recognize there: Mandarain, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean (natch!) and Japanese. But there were a lot of white folks, Hispanics and Middle Eastern-looking people there, too. I'm guessing the cheap prices and the variety of stuff that cuts across cultures draws enough people to make a big store like this viable.

    Diane, I believe Denver has one of the largest Mongolian populations in the U.S. Definitely some cold-hardy folk!

    Manisha, if you came down in the middle of a weekday, or on the weekend, it probably would be a pretty easy drive. Turnpike to I-70, then 225 south to Parker, then north on Parker just a few blocks. You could probably get there as fast as I did, driving crosstown and hitting every damn light along the way.

    I will definitely consider the goat, Vicki and Manisha. I've had Jamaican goat stew that was pretty tasty.

    Fourleafclover, I would think Vancouver, at least, would have good Asian markets!

  8. You can often buy young goat meat at a Mexican carniceria, too.

  9. I wish we had had the time to make it there this weekend. Thanks for the directions! I went to POM looking for baby octopus - more for a photo op than anything else. Since the others in the family weren't exactly excited about eating octopus. They had teeny frozen baby octopus but no fresh ones. I bought some anyway but now I think I have baby squid or baby cuttlefish as there are no suckers on the tentacles. Oh well...

  10. Oh, Gina, I neglected to answer your Mayonnaise question. Kewpie is a Japanese mayo that has more salt and sugar than many Western brands and is very rich. Its kind of decadent as mayonnaise goes, and the package makes me smile.

  11. Manisha, POM = Pacific Ocean Market on Alameda? I do like octopus, but I like the big slices you get in sushi bars rather than the baby ones. I like the big chewy texture more than a mouth full of wiggly bits.

    Dani, the carnicerias are a whole other story; haven't been in one lately, since I try to stick to humane sources, which means Wild Oats or Sunflower. Though for goat I'll probably have to make an exception, since I don't think those places carry it.

  12. Goodness, goodness, goodness.... that is really huge!!!!! I wonder how much time you or anymore spent there? It must be hard for me to grab one thing and go, I would be tempted to see everything and get some stuff that I don't necessarily need.

  13. It would be really great if there was a store like that around here. I would be buying a lot there every time I went.