Growing up in an Asian household, I always consider a trip to the local H Mart as the greatest pleasure in life. Since I came to university, adulting has had a steep learning curve, but H Mart has been there every step of the way. From trial and error, a trip (or many trips) to the local H Mart by Union Square has developed my taste for childhood nostalgics like Yakult or white rabbit candy, as well as distaste for some of the more peculiar food products sold at H Mart.
What win our hearts:
- Yakult: As a child who despised milk, Yakult was the only way my parents could ever get me to consume any dairy product. Softly sweetened with a hint of tanginess, Yakult can be gulped down within seconds, leaving you begging for more.
- Tarami Konnyaku: This was the drink that led to a lot of heartache at home, as my siblings and I fought for the last pouch. In flavors like apple, peach, and mango, the jelly beverage provides the right dose of fruitiness and texture. The drink, made from konnyaku or konjac yam, is comparable to fruit bubble tea, only better. Pro tip: keep it in the cooler for a more refreshing taste.
- BCD Soon Tofu: If you’ve ever been to BCD Tofu House in Koreatown, you definitely should give Soon Tofu a try. It’s a classic dish of piping hot tofu mixed with a variety of veggies, your choice of meat, and a side of egg to drop in while it’s at its hottest. BCD sells its tofu base at H Mart in various levels of spiciness, though I dare you to give Extra Hot a tray.
- Chicken Gyoza Dumplings: As a college student, my cooking skills are limited to microwaving or heating up frozen food on the stovetop. These dumplings are an easy dinner given my finite abilities in the kitchen, and they always give me the opportunity to send a photo to my parents saying, “Yes, Mom. I do know how to cook.”
- Jjajang Noodles (jjajangmyeon): Also known as black bean noodles, Jjajang Noodles are an alternative to the plain instant ramen. Packed with salt, Jjajang Noodles offer a change in taste, though you can also visit Food Gallery 32, a food court in Koreatown, to try a fresher, and perhaps healthier, version of it.
- Shrimp Crackers: If you think garlic gives you terrible breath, you haven’t tried these shrimp-flavored chips yet. Opening up the bag, I can feel a strong whiff of the ocean escapes, and each bite of the cracker melts into your mouth instantly. It’s just like garlic bread: while the smell is strong, you eat it anyways because you can’t resist the delicious taste of it. These crackers are 100% worth the smell – just remember to rinse your mouth after.
- BBQ Chicken Flavored Chips: It’s basically a real life Willy Wonka invention, but instead of being a Three Course Dinner Chewing Gum, it’s BBQ Chicken in the form of chips! It really takes the concept of meal replacement to a whole different direction.
- Melona Ice Pop: These ice pops come in flavors like banana or mango, but I’ve personally only tried their signature honeydew melon. Aimed to be “the perfect balance between ice cream and popsicle,” this frozen treat can easily beats everything from the ice cream trucks with its unique flavoring.
- Binggrae Samanco Red Bean Ice Cream Sandwich: Here’s a treat that even vegans can enjoy. This ice cream sandwich is modeled after taiyaki, a Japanese fish-shaped cake, commonly filled with red bean paste or other flavors, such as chocolate, strawberry and green tea. Next time, instead of reaching for the basic black and white ice cream sandwich, you should give this amazing treat a spin.
- White Rabbit Creamy Candy: I lied. Yakult isn’t the only way to get me to consume dairy. Apparently, according to its advertisement, “Seven White Rabbit candies are equivalent to one cup of milk.” The amount of white rabbit candies I have consumed is surely more than enough. Though, to this day, I’m still not quite sure whether or not the paper wrapping on these candies are edible.
What We Consider Farts:
- Corn Cheese Chips: Corn cheese is a Korean dish, consisted of sweet corn and mozzarella cheese. Yet, these chips are a sad rendition of the dish. Its fake flavoring is almost as bad as the fruit-flavoring cough medicine contains. No matter how hard these corn cheese chips try, I won’t be tricked into consuming them ever again.
- Korean Pancake (Cinnamon): I’ve had H Mart’s Green Onion Korean Pancakes before, and they are not only easy to make, but also super tasty. Yet, the attempt to make cinnamon korean pancakes a thing is simply a failure.
- Fish Tofu: Rubber. It tastes like rubber. I’ve had fish tofu before, but this version is so difficult to consume.
- Fish Sausage: A previous attempt at making a dish with this sausage resulted in a solemn head shake from my mom. Perhaps I did something wrong while making it, but I know for sure that I won’t try to make it again.
- Plastic-Packaged Fruits: With the statewide ban of plastic bags, shoppers should continue to do their part in helping the environment by avoiding to buy these plastic-packaged fruits. H Mart also sells un-packaged fruits, so choose to buy from those instead.
Featured Image, Other Photos: Carol Wu