I’m always surprised at how many people have never heard of H Mart, the huge Asian/Korean grocery store in Tigard Oregon. Bigger by about two-thirds, it dwarfs the better known Uwajimaya market in Beaverton.
I first wrote about H Mart the first weekend it was open, and though I liked the market, it had plenty of grand-opening problems. I thought it was time to update those impressions, as much as changed.
As you wander through the store, the thing that will strike you is the vast quantity of different items. Want kimchee? There is a 30 foot wall of it. Soy sauce? The selection is so vast I felt completely overwhelmed. The entire store is this way, but it makes for a fun hour, just poking around and looking at things.
The bakery department in the front of the store is interesting. From what I understand, everything is made in-house. They have a wide choice of sweet breads including many I haven’t seen before. I love red bean, so my basket quickly begins to fill. I’ve always found all the bakery items a step above the norm. In addition they have a display case full of finished fancy cakes and pastries.
The produce section is cavernous, with a great choice of items not generally found in Portland area Asian markets. If you want a five-pound bag of dried fungus, you’ll find it here, as well as dried bamboo, lots of different types of mushrooms in bulk, aloe vera leaves, curry leaves, sesame leaves, lots and lots of different mushrooms, fresh taro root, malanga root, jack fruit; the list goes on an on. Everything is clean, well-lit, quality is good, and prices of many items are the lowest I’ve seen in some time.
There is a small wine section and a decent beer selection. They have an area for Saké, but the choices are not as large as I expected.
Along more of the back wall is a very large seafood department. It reminds me of fish markets from when I was a kid. Again, the selection is quite wide, with tanks of live lobster, shrimp, abalone, talapia, crab, and more bubbling away. Also have catfish, croaker, mullet, talapia, codfish, carp, narway, mackerel, belt fish, Spanish mackerel, golden pommfret, striped bass, red snapper, white bass, king fish, fluke, shrimp, konchi, smelt, shark steak, kingfish, halibut, salmon, basa fillet… you get the idea. I won’t even try to list the frozen section. Overall, everything smells and looks fresh, and service is good. I like that every tank has a sign that says where everything is from, and whether it is wild or farm raised.
The fresh meat section is fine, but not huge, focusing on lots of Korean choices. There must have been at least five different types of short rib cuts alone. In addition, a large freezer case hold more meats; just about every part of a cow is in there, along with things like black goat, black chicken, and some other very strange-looking things. The quality of the fresh meats looked very good.
Two different cafe’s serve hot food to go, and there is a dining area if you want to eat there. One is a Thai fusion, the other more traditional. I didn’t try either one on my most recent visits, so if anyone gives them a try, let us know what you think!
Service is spotty. While the people at the register are friendly and will warn you if they think you are buying something you may not find appealing, the rest of the store doesn’t have a lot of staff, and those that are in the isles don’t seem particularly friendly. Still, this shouldn’t stop you from going.