25 June 2012

H Mart - Upper Darby, Pennsylvania

I went to H Mart with TJ and CL. To get there from Penn, you take the L train to 69th St. Terminal, followed by a 5-minute walk. Sadly, we got on the wrong side of the SEPTA station, and had to get transfer tickets! I've never travelled West on SEPTA. I actually wanted to walk to 69th St, but apparently it's really shady (and it's about 3 miles?). The furthest west I've walked is to 50th St. (Baltimore and Market).

H Mart is a grocery store that primarily sells Korean, Japanese, and Chinese food, although there is other imported food. I was a bit let down by H Mart. Although there are many vegetables and foods not found elsewhere (green mango, yucca, etc.) it's quite pricey compared to the supermarkets in Chinatown. On the second floor, there is a food court with four restaurants and one overpriced bakery with pastries that are all pre-wrapped and made elsewhere (they don't have an oven; they do have expensive bubble tea and smoothies). There is a sushi restaurant, two Korean food restaurants, and one Korean-Chinese restaurant. I don't remember the names of them, but we each bought food from a different restaurant (except the sushi one). I had lunch and dinner there, while they (having stuffed themselves with pancakes and eggs earlier) just had dinner. We were there from 2 to 6 pm!
At the restaurant closest to the window, CL got a seafood noodle soup (and I got some kimbap). It came with radish kimchi that had sweet pickled garlic in it. CL didn't really like it, so she swapped her dish with TJ's. TJ had gotten a "noodle with seafood and black bean sauce" from the restaurant furthest from the window, but it turned out that there was pork in it! TJ is a pescetarian, so swapping was quite convenient. Her meal also came with radish kimchi. I got thick noodles and vegetables (number 25) from the middle restaurant, which had a yellow shop front. It was really good, and came with cabbage kimchi, miso soup, stewed potatoes! I was so surprised because the bowl is enormous; my chopsticks are shown on the bowl for comparison. I saw that other people also got these giant bowls. The bowls are about half filled with raw veggies and cold rice noodles, which were nice and chewy. There was a bottle of spicy sauce for me to add to my own taste. It was around $8.50 with tax, as were most dishes there. 

The kimbap was pretty good too, but the soy sauce with chili was really salty definitely not umami. $4 with tax. I know there's imitation crab it in...but I ate it anyway (we shared it; I also ended up eating squid that was going to get thrown away because neither TJ nor CL liked it).
H Mart itself is a decent size, has many snacks that I'd like to try, many varieties of miso, and kilos of kimchi (the smallest size was a pound, the largest was a bag the size of a microwave). The produce section offers a styrofoam backed and plastic-wrapped tray of nearly-going-bad-veggies for 99c, so I bought about 12 small potatoes, 6 Asian eggplants, and 4 zucchinis for $4.96. I just cut off the bad squishy parts (about 10% of the veggies).
 (not sure what it is...) 
(They're twice the size of avocados, and have smooth skin)

I also got some sort of mugwort cake with beans which looked so delicious! I thought it'd be sweet, but it's actually tasteless (like Chinese steamed buns without any filling). I've never had mugwort before, and I'm a little disappointed because I couldn't taste anything different than a normal floury-bread thing. I wish it had been sold individually, but it was not bad.
I also found something that I used to love when I was a kid: ready-to-eat crunchy instant noodles! It's not the same brand, but basically you can add the seasoning, crush the noodles, and then eat them the way you eat chips. There was a brand in Hong Kong that had Snoopy on the package, and came with a Snoopy sticker. I LOVED them. I got the hot rice flavour (but there was also beef and barbecue flavour). It's a bit pricey (99c) but, man, nostalgia!
Also, there was lots of vegetarian pudding. I didn't get any because I had bought some Kingo Pudding by Cocon at Chinatown recently, and here they are (they taste really good frozen)
Although these look like jelly made with gelatin, they're actually solid due to seaweed extract! Here are the ingredients for the pineapple one: water, sugar, nata de coco, milk powder, pineapple juice, seaweed extract, vegetable oil, citric acid, flavour, emulsifier, colouring (including tartrazine E102), and FD&C yellow No. 5. The lychee one doesn't include the last two ingredients, because, well, it's white. I'm not a fan of the pineapple one because it was too sweet, but I bought it for science (and for trying new things).

For those who want REAL pineapple jelly, then, pick these! Why can't gelatin jelly have pineapple? Well, pineapple has this enzyme called bromelain, a protease that breaks down proteins (our duodenum (small intestine) has trypsin, which is also a protease, which breaks down proteins during digestion). The protease breaks down gelatin (collagen protein), so the jelly won't set. I was so astounded when I learned this in high school Biology. The jelly itself is softer, though.
Ultimately, I wouldn't take SEPTA all the way to H Mart regularly, even though there are some pretty neat veggies there. Chinatown is the way to go for now for me!

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