Sunday, October 19, 2014

H Mart - Catonsville, Maryland

 Located on the corner of Rolling Road & Rt. 40 in Catonsville, Maryland, H Mart is an Asian inspired grocery store that according to its web site takes pride in offering customers "the freshest ingredients" with the "best value".

Since opening in Queens, New York in 1982, H Mart has grown to 40 locations in the US, Canada and recently London, England. 

H Mart (short for Han Ah Reum, a Korean phrase meaning "arm full of groceries") carries a wide selection of fresh produce, seafood and asian products. Surprisingly, it also has a Hispanic food section too. 

Hidden on the far right side of the store, tucked away in a corner, we discovered a sit-in eatery and sushi counter. 

Charles, Grandpa and me 

A row of large flatscreens displayed the eatery menu items identified by photo, numbers and dish name.

The eatery is small with about five tables and counter seating. Although a half-wall partisan separates the eatery from the supermarket, I could still easily see and hear the shoppers - which we thought was cool.

After we selected our dishes, we placed our order at the cash register.

Once our meals were ready, the nice lady at the cash register called us up to the counter to retrieve the entrees. Our meals came with a complimentary bowl of white rice, kimchi, and miso soup. The rice  and kimchi was given to us with our entree, however, we were told the soup was self serve from a large hot caldron (that was fun to do).

Apparently there are people who forget the miso soup is only complimentary with a entree, because there was a huge "Not Free $1.00" sign posted on the pot.

I selected the KanPoongGi (#21). Although the chicken was moist and plentiful, the "garlic and pepper sauce" was a little too spicy for my liking. One  bite wasn't inherently spicy, but after a couple of mouthfuls, I was grateful for my water bottle. However, my grandpa, who likes spicy cuisine, thought the dish was great! I'd say this dish resembles Sesame Chicken but with a giant kick.

My brother Charles ordered the Chicken Broccoli (#52). The best part of the dish was the fresh broccoli. The bad part was the rest of the dish - the chicken was rubbery, bland, and chewy with a monotonous brown "special sauce".  Charles was quite surprised since the dish looked so good on the menu board photo and on the actual plate.  After my Grandpa and I tried a bite of his dish, we both concurred with his assessment. We left most of his dish untouched.

In addition to the hot food in the cafe, there is a sushi section run by a few men who were busy making sushi to order. While we didn't try the sushi on this visit, it looked terrific - and most importantly it looked very fresh. The prices for the sushi carry-out items seemed less expensive than other grocery stores like Giant and Safeway. For example, a California Roll was priced at $3.50.

Although our voyage to the H Mart eatery wasn't all that great, we would still consider returning to try other dishes. Plus, we'd like to spend more time exploring the grocery part of the store.

-Thomas Regnante

Hanahreum Asian Mart on Urbanspoon