Last Sunday, the hubby and I found ourselves in unfamiliar territory: the Chicago suburbs. We were meeting some friends for brunch, including the author of the book City of Exiles – coming out this week. It's the sequel to the Icon Thief, which I loved, and I cannot wait to read the next book. (Yes, shameless plug, but I'm okay with that)!
Anyways, after brunch we set out to explore. We went to the beautiful Baha’i Temple in Wilmette, Madame ZuZu’s in Highland Park (see that post here), and Super H Mart in Niles.
We had never heard about Super H Mart until this past Thanksgiving when our hostess with the mostess told us about some delicious and cheap salmon sashimi she had bought there. We were immediately intrigued and knew we would have to check it out. With our brunch in the ‘burbs, we had the perfect excuse.
Lucky for us, the day we ended up at Super H Mart was “Korean snack day,” and there were countless sample food stations set up throughout the store for us to try. It was amazing.
Samples included one of my all-time favorites, red bean paste filled rice cake, all sorts of stir fried sides, soups, rice balls, teas and coffees, beefs, seafood, and frankly some things I wasn’t completely sure of, but all incredibly delicious.
Beyond the tasting, the grocery store was hugely impressive (and hugely enormous). It had beautiful food – aisles of luscious and exotic (at least to yours truly) produce, fresh fish, scrumptious smelling mini- restaurants serving up everything from dumplings to sushi to bibimbap, and a seemingly endless selection of dry goods.
Here are some fish balls and dried fish for sale.
And here is the salmon sashimi my friend had mentioned.
Not quite sure what this is (anyone know?), or how one cooks it.
And here was the hubby’s personal heaven: a whole area dedicated to kimchi.
In addition, the perimeter of the store contains several other stores – cosmetics, beds, toilets, a mini Best Buy, jewelry, a travel agency, etc... It truly seemed like a one-stop grocery/department store, reminiscent, at least to me, of some of the stores I saw when I was in Japan.
The highlight of the night, though, was something we bought as we were leaving. Near the check-out aisles was a man making Korean red-bean paste stuffed pancakes. For $2.99 we were given three, which obviously made it no further than beyond check-out. Still hot from the griddle, the dough of the pancakes was slightly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The pancake would have been exceptional in and of itself, but add in the slightly sweet red bean paste filling (I think I have an obsession with the stuff), and it was other worldly. I would go back to the suburbs just for these.
After doing some more digging, I learned that H Mart stands for Han Ah Reum, a Korean phrase that means arm full of groceries. I can see why.
Try H Mart at 801 Civic Center Drive in Niles (where we went) or 1295 East Odgen Avenue in Naperville.