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H Mart, Super H Mart & & Han Ah Reum

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A trip out to Han Ah Reum yesterday (Aug. 24) proved to be a major bummer. A half gallon of skim milk, pull-dated September 3 was completely curdled when opened last night. Early this evening, I went to prepare six fresh duck legs, pull-dated August 29, and they were off. A twenty-minute bath in acidulated water did not remedy the problem. I carry a cooler with blue ice in my car for summer shopping trips, so it was not me. Drive all the way out to Merrifield from DC to confront them with their rotten duck for a $12 refund, or fuggedaboutit? Factoring in time and the cost of gas, I decided on the latter. My husband wants me never to go there again. Well, the new Great Wall supermarket down the road from HAR looks like it's just about ready to open. Maybe they'll sell fresh duck there... sigh.

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I would add that HAR's Super H Division, which was set up to appeal more to the western shopper, is I think generally much better.  My impression is one has a greater liklihood of not having problems there.  While it's a long drive for many of us to the local Super H outpost, it's conventiently located near Wegmans Fairfax store, and thus is a great shopping-crawl opportunity.

I bought a whole fresh duck at Super H, which was fine. But Super H does not have duck legs for $1.99 a pound, which are perfect for making my latest obsession, duck confit. At Wegman's, d'Artagnan confit sells for $8 per leg!

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I bought a whole fresh duck at Super H, which was fine. But Super H does not have duck legs for $1.99 a pound, which are perfect for making my latest obsession, duck confit. At Wegman's, d'Artagnan confit sells for $8 per leg!

Anything with a name that starts with d' automatically doubles in price.

Buy the whole ducks, use the legs, then give me what's left! I'll love you forever. (Ever notice how a whole chicken often costs less than "boneless breasts" by themselves. And you get the rest for free. Such a deal!)

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A lot of the food in Super H supermarket in Fairfax is strange (I almost said foreign) to most American shoppers. My wonderful +1 (Grover here on DR.com) would like to know if up to 5 people would like a guided tour of the foods at Super H and a bit of help in shopping for Korean food and vegetables.

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A lot of the food in Super H supermarket in Fairfax is strange (I almost said foreign) to most American shoppers.  My wonderful +1 (Grover here on DR.com) would like to know if up to 5 people would like a guided tour of the foods at Super H and a bit of help in shopping for Korean food and vegetables.

Really? If I lived closer they'd probably be my regular grocery store (pockypockypockypocky). That having been said, I know there's always more to learn. I'm up for it, but wouldn't want to crowd out anyone who's more in need of an introduction...

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Many thanks to grover and Escoffier for leading this very informative tour through the aisles of the splendiferous Super H. I enjoyed meeting everyone, and look forward to seeing y'all again soon!

If folks are interested, I would be glad to type up my notes into a post... although it's likely to be a tad lengthy. :lol:

Post!

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By popular demand. In the interest of brevity, I'm going to keep this out of a narrative format. Since the Japanese snack foods/rice cookers/bento box discussion was something of a digression, rather than germane to the tour, I've omitted it. If anyone's interested, let me know and I'll spin it off.

---------------------------

  • Why did Super H have a large display of shelled nuts up in front of its entrance? Chongwol Taeborum, the Korean festival celebrating the first full moon of the year. One of its culinary traditions is the eating of hard-shell nuts. Peanuts and walnuts are traditional; pecans and almonds (also displayed) are not culivated in Korea. Mixed rice (i.e., with different types of grains and beans mixed in) is another traditional dish for this festival.
  • Korean Pears are rounded, sweet and crispy. The hardest pear is the ripest - the firmness indicates juiciness. Koreans do not cook their fruit, except for the benefit of babies and the elderly - although if your pears are too soft, they can be used as part of a bulgogi marinade.
  • Persimmons come in two different styles. The round/flat type is firm, and very tannic. The pointier type is soft.
  • The Fuji apple is in fact a hybrid of an apple and a Korean pear.
  • Sesame leaves are equivalent to shiso leaves, but are a bit stronger. They can be used in pressed sushi or to wrap around sashimi. They should be used within a week.
  • The larger Korean radishes are suitable for making kimchi, but daikon (Japanese radish) are not (they're significantly drier). A typical kimchi ingredient list: radish or cabbage, scallions, chili powder (dried Korean red pepper), garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and for a sweeter kimchi, sugar and pear.
  • Scallions go in or on just about everything in Korean cuisine.
  • Firm tofu can substitute for the ricotta in lasagna
  • Fresh tofu is much better than the shelf-stable type, but is only good for about a week. A good brand is Pulmuone.
  • Chinese Mabo Tofu is the rough equivalent of Hamburger Helper. :lol:
  • There are two different types of seaweed (and one pseudo-seaweed) commonly used in Korean (and/or Japanese) cooking. Konbu is the thickest seaweed, from the deepest part of the ocean, used for stock-making. Wakame is a shallow-water seaweed that is most commonly used in soups (e.g. miso soup), and is an excellent source of iron - it's commonly served straight up to new mothers to help them recover from the birthing process. Nori, which is used for sushi wrapping, is not seaweed but is in fact made from algae.
  • Dried seafood is commonly used as an ingredient in soups and the like, but some types like dried shrimp are also sauteed in oil and served with soy as a snack.
  • Shanghai bok choy is the same size as baby bok choy, but is sweeter and is distinguishable from its all-over light green color.
  • Lotus root would be sliced, then cooked in soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil.
  • Korean red pepper is hot and sweet, and is available powdered or pasted in addition to fresh. Green pepper is less spicy, and is often served stuffed. Neither is anywhere near as spicy as Thai pepper.
  • Whiting = pollack
  • Saury is roughly equivalent in flavor/texture to sardines .
  • The thinly sliced beef in the meat case is intended for shabu shabu.
  • There is no appreciable reason for buying Angus beef oxtails.
  • Never over-marinate bulgogi. Don't let it go more than 30 minutes: grover marinates hers only for about 10 minutes.
  • The skirt steak chops are intended for bulgogi.
  • If you see a Korean packaged food and the container is red, that means it's very, very spicy. Orange, still spicy but not as spicy. Green would be mild.
  • Nong Shim is a good brand of ramen.
  • grover uses Samsugabasan 'New Crop' rice.
  • When using frying mix for tempura, ice water in the batter will make it crispier.
  • Korean nori is not the same thing as sushi nori. It's much thicker, and also tends to be be salty where the Japanese nori would be sweetish.
  • Yaki nori is roasted nori. Teriyaki nori is meant for snacking.
  • When buying dried mushrooms, get sliced ones. They'll reconstitute much better.
  • Chinese prunes are very sour.
  • Natural salt is sea salt, greyish from the minerals. It would be used for brining or salt packing. White sea salt is just more refined.
  • Use crushed sesame for bulgogi.
  • Black sesame is an excellent source of antioxidants.
  • Marukan is a recommended brand of rice vinegar.
  • Lee Kum Kee is the Kraft of the Korean/Chinese market.
  • For kimchi paste, anchovy or shrimp sauce are the preferred type of fish sauces.
  • Black bean paste would be used to top bulgogi, or spicy soybean paste, which is a little reddish. Do not use pepper paste.
  • Plum extract is a tea concentrate.
  • Korea was not historically a producer/user of tea, since its water sources were sufficiently clean to be used as-is, versus having to be boiled and flavored.
  • Pork belly is unsmoked/uncured bacon.
  • If you're making oden for two, there is a suitable assortment available in the freezer section, which even comes with the soup base.
  • Hai Reum and Pulmuone are good brands of frozen dumplings.
  • When pan-frying dumplings, fry one side first, and then steam the other side by pouring in some water and covering the lid. This will keep the dumplings from drying out too much or becoming too chewy.
  • Sampo Foods and Chongga are good brands of refrigerator-case kimchi (et al).
  • If your container of kimchi is puffy, do not use it.
  • There are three types of miso: red miso, regular miso, and white miso.
  • Koreans eat their rice and soup with regular spoons, not chopsticks, and not the Chinese/Japanese style of soup spoon.

Edited by Principia

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I would like to add something here. Hope Principia doesn't mind. :lol:

I had a problem quoting them so I used * for her quotation and used # for my explanation.

*Sesame leaves are equivalent to shiso leaves, but are a bit stronger. They can be used in pressed sushi or to wrap around sashimi. They should be used within a week.

#Sesame leaves can also be used to wrap Bulgogi. They don't last long in the refrigerator, change into dark color.

*Chinese Mabo Tofu is the rough equivalent of Hamburger Helper. :huh:

#'Chinese Mabo Tofu' is a name of the mapa tofu sauce from 'House' brand.

*Wakame is a shallow-water seaweed that is most commonly used in soups (e.g. miso soup), and is an excellent source of iron.

#Sorry, Principia. Maybe my English pronunciation wasn't good enough...

I tried to say iodine, not iron.

*Never over-marinate bulgogi. Don't let it go more than 30 minutes: grover marinates hers only for about 10 minutes.

#Because all the juice is going out of the meat so the meat becomes chewyer.

*If you see a Korean packaged food and the container is red, that means it's very, very spicy. Orange, still spicy but not as spicy. Green would be mild.

#Not all the time but usually...

*When buying dried mushrooms, get sliced ones. They'll reconstitute much better.

#quicker, too. so you save your time.

*Chinese prunes are very sour.

#Japanese, too.

*Black bean paste would be used to top bulgogi, or spicy soybean paste, which is a little reddish. Do not use pepper paste.

#Black bean paste is used for Chinese style cooking. For Bulgogi topping sauce, Korean mix pepper paste and miso paste so it is not really red.

*Korea was not historically a producer/user of tea, since its water sources were sufficiently clean to be used as-is, versus having to be boiled and flavored.

#Chinese tea had been imported more than 1500 years ago and it was very expensive so mostly high class people were able to use it. Since 70's tea plants were found and manufactured.

*Hai Reum and Pulmuone are good brands of frozen dumplings.

#Hai Reum -> Hai Oh Reum (sun rise)

I forgot to say Sampo foods is also good Dumpling brand.

*If your container of kimchi is puffy, do not use it.

#Because it means that the kimchi si too much fermented so it tastes more sour.

Thank you principia. You are wonderful.

Edited by grover

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Yesterday in my meanderings I noticed a new-looking Super H-Mart on Route 50, just east of Kamp Washington, where the SuperFresh was a few years ago. I think it's across the street from Paul VI High School.

Has anyone been there? It must be bigger than the H-Mart in Merrifield, if I remember the building correctly.

I think I'll head over there in a few and check it out.

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Yesterday in my meanderings I noticed a new-looking Super H-Mart on Route 50, just east of Kamp Washington, where the SuperFresh was a few years ago. I think it's across the street from Paul VI High School.

Has anyone been there? It must be bigger than the H-Mart in Merrifield, if I remember the building correctly.

I think I'll head over there in a few and check it out.

It's been there over 2 years and Grover and I have given tours of it a couple of times. On Saturdays it's similar to the UN without the yelling. It's our grocery of choice.

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It's been there over 2 years and Grover and I have given tours of it a couple of times. On Saturdays it's similar to the UN without the yelling. It's our grocery of choice.

OK, I really don't get out much! :unsure:

I did go over there today, and enjoyed the larger space. The fish looked good, although I don't know why they offer "sushi" tuna and salmon prepackaged in plastic wrap, with no way for the shopper to assess its actual freshness. Just about everything else in the fish section is accessible and very fresh looking. Now, if they just had wild-caught Alaskan salmon . . .

I came home with lemons, limes, fresh thyme, and quail eggs.

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OK, I really don't get out much! :unsure:

I did go over there today, and enjoyed the larger space. The fish looked good, although I don't know why they offer "sushi" tuna and salmon prepackaged in plastic wrap, with no way for the shopper to assess its actual freshness. Just about everything else in the fish section is accessible and very fresh looking. Now, if they just had wild-caught Alaskan salmon . . .

I came home with lemons, limes, fresh thyme, and quail eggs.

If you would like to explore a lot more, let us know and we'll arrange a meeting and tour some Saturday. There is much to explore and much to eat that are out of the usual.

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I noticed some pretty amazing-looking frozen toro and white tuna in the fish section at Super H today. Anyone tried 'em?

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I spent some time at Han Ah Reum (now called H Mart) on Georgia Avenue yesterday afternoon, and actually had a relatively decent experience. I was impressed with their selection of meat and seafood, but wondered if anyone has had any bad experiences with meat/seafood purchased there. Most of it looked fine, so I'm not trying to up the terror alert level or anything... I was just curious. Are there any items you absolutely would NOT purchase at H Mart?

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I spent some time at Han Ah Reum (now called H Mart) on Georgia Avenue yesterday afternoon, and actually had a relatively decent experience. I was impressed with their selection of meat and seafood, but wondered if anyone has had any bad experiences with meat/seafood purchased there. Most of it looked fine, so I'm not trying to up the terror alert level or anything... I was just curious. Are there any items you absolutely would NOT purchase at H Mart?
We shop at the one in Fairax and the only things we've had problems with has been some (in-house) packaged nuts and some slightly stale-dated yougurt drinks. Everything else has been okay.

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We shop at the one in Fairax and the only things we've had problems with has been some (in-house) packaged nuts and some slightly stale-dated yougurt drinks. Everything else has been okay.
i also shop at the one in fairfax and i bought beef there (i believe it was sirloin, but i'm not sure). i always check the date on foods and there was nothing out of the ordinary w/ the date on the particular package i bought (sell by was like a week later than the date i bought it, or something like that). but when i got home and opened the package, the meat smelled off to me :o . just to be safe, i threw it out.

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i also shop at the one in fairfax and i bought beef there (i believe it was sirloin, but i'm not sure). i always check the date on foods and there was nothing out of the ordinary w/ the date on the particular package i bought (sell by was like a week later than the date i bought it, or something like that). but when i got home and opened the package, the meat smelled off to me :o . just to be safe, i threw it out.

The pull dates on meat and poultry at Han Ah Reum have often been totally screwed up--it's as if sometimes the person setting the date on the label printer doesn't know what they are doing. I do not trust pull dates at that store. I always smell packages, or poke a small hole in the plastic to check for spoilage <gasp!> I have been burned too many times, and it's too far from home for me to take things back. In the summer, I once bought a container of milk, with a generous sell-by date on it, that was totally curdled. It was probably left in a warm place for a long time. I don't buy milk there anymore, needless to say. They seem good about keeping the fish and seafood on ice. If you are concerned, ask to smell the fish and look at the inside of the gill to assess freshness. I have not had any problem wiht fish or seafood. Produce has been uniformly excellent there.

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I hadn't been to the-store-formerly-known-as-Han Ah Reum in Merrifield in a long time. It now is called H Mart. Everything else seems pretty much the same. No duck legs for sale, unfortunately. I found fresh favas and what they call crimson beans, but which are more commonly known here as cranberry beans. In Italy they are called borlotti beans. Very delicious, especially fresh ones. They are usually only available dried. I also found large, fresh artichokes for $.99 each. And I thought the $1.49 I paid at Trader Joe's the other day was a good price! Fresh fennel bulbs were $1 cheaper each than the price at Safeway. Cilantro is 4 bunches for $1, Italian parsley is 2 bunches for $1. Mushrooms here are cheaper than anywhere else--shiitake, oyster, king oyster (that's the one that looks like a fresh porcini but isn't), crimini-portobellos and regular white and those skinny Asian mushrooms. Cherries were $.99 a pound and shallots were also amazingly cheaper than anywhere else I've seen (can't remember exactly what I paid). The fish and shrimp looked very good, but I had other plans for last night. I need to get out there more often...

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I decided to check out the Super H in Fairfax today, not looking for anything specific, ended up getting new soy sauce (gold cap Kikkoman), Mitsukan rice vinegar & mirin, sesame paste, ten men jan, marokume miso, seaweed salad, miso soup mix, & a plastic bento box. After trekking all the way out there (I live in southern Fairfax county, near Ft. Belvoir), I spotted another H-Mart, on my way home, on Backlick! I can't believe I didn't know it was there, I feel like such a dummy...Has anyone been to the Global Food market in Woodbridge-is it similar?

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I decided to check out the Super H in Fairfax today, not looking for anything specific, ended up getting new soy sauce (gold cap Kikkoman), Mitsukan rice vinegar & mirin, sesame paste, ten men jan, marokume miso, seaweed salad, miso soup mix, & a plastic bento box. After trekking all the way out there (I live in southern Fairfax county, near Ft. Belvoir), I spotted another H-Mart, on my way home, on Backlick! I can't believe I didn't know it was there, I feel like such a dummy...Has anyone been to the Global Food market in Woodbridge-is it similar?
HMart on Backlick? I work on Backlick, never seen it! Are you sure you don't mean Global Foods?

Global Foods is owned by Koreans but oriented more towards Hispanic/Latino and non-Korean Asian (Vietnamese, Thai) than HMart or Super H. Also a lot of Korean foods. I prefer Super H, even though Global Foods is closer, because Super H is cleaner.

The HMart website says they will be opening an HMart in Annandale but it will be on Heritage, which parallels 495 just west of Ravensworth, so, just inside the Beltway in Annandale close to Little River Turnpike.

But, to answer your question, Global Foods in Woodbridge is similar to Global Foods on Backlick. The one on Backlick may be a little more upscale, the one in Woodbridge is larger.

I feel perfectly confident buying fruit, vegetables, rice, condiments but would not buy meat or fish that I wasn't intending to cook that very day, and would not buy milk or eggs at all. We love Super H's produce department. It is the very best.

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I was zooming by, but it's at Hechinger Dr., just before the Braddock Rd. intersection(maybe it was a Global Foods)-someone told me today it was much smaller than the Super H. She also said that Lotte was her favorite.

I had a bit of trouble w/ the labels, but got some stuff anyway-didn't find the instant dashi I wanted, though. My everyday shopping is at the commissary at Ft. Belvoir, small, but decent selection of Asian, Hispanic, German groceries, good deli & sushi, great produce & meat...

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I was zooming by, but it's at Hechinger Dr., just before the Braddock Rd. intersection(maybe it was a Global Foods)-someone told me today it was much smaller than the Super H. She also said that Lotte was her favorite.
That's a Global market (owned by the same people who own Grand Mart). As someone stated above, it's more oriented towards Latino than towards Koreans. However, you passed by the best thing in that area...you passed Gamasot which has the best seullontang in VA.

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I found out that Super H adds a new store in Annandale, VA opening in July. The adderess will be at 7885 Heritage Drive

Annandale, VA 22003. This will be good news to Korean restaurants in the area. It is good news to me as well because I can save gas and time.

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