Thursday, March 17, 2011

H-Mart dining

I headed into Edison last night to check out the food court of the recently opened H-Mart - joined by friends John and Scott (of Eat Out New Jersey), we made a beeline for the Japanese ramen stand. There are four or five different places to choose from, including Korean, Chinese, and sushi. I was anxious to try the ramen after New York City's Totto Ramen had transformed me into a noodle fiend, so the other cuisines would have to wait until my next trip.

Spicy ramen, please. Other varieties are offered (John and Scott both went with Miso ramen), but I like the peppery kick. While waiting for our meals we dined on the free samples sitting out front. The first was pork trotters, sliced up chunks of a pig's foot. The porky flavor was fantastic, although texturally there's a lot of fat and tendons which is sometimes tough to work through. The second sample was some type of sausage - we had no clue what type. Immediately the texture caught us off guard, but then the pork flavor starting setting in. It was actually pretty tasty! What was up with the texture, though? It was somewhat gelatinous, and not what we were expecting from sausage. After asking (and finding some frozen links in the store), we discovered it was a Korean-style sausage called Soondae, made with vermicelli noodles, rice, beef blood, pork feet, and other pork parts. Traditionally (yes, I researched later) it is made with intestines, so I'm curious as to whether or not they're included under "other pork parts".

On to dinner! The Miso ramen came out first along with some chicken wings the guys had ordered. I was offered one and gladly dug in - wow. These were really, really good. Super crispy, super flavorful (soy, honey, spice).

My Spicy ramen came out next. Traditional noodles and spicy broth with half of an egg, mushrooms, broccoli, bean sprouts, and some weird imitation seafood on top (which I avoided). The ramen itself was good - the broth had the kick I wanted, and the noodles were tasty as well. I'm assuming they were not hand-made in the kitchen, though - while they were good, I have to say they did not come close to meeting the incredibly delicious noodles at Totto Ramen (freshly made each night). Not a huge surprise, but it's worth noting you can absolutely tell the difference once you've had house-made noodles. The ramen was served with little sides of kimchi and pickled radish. The chicken wings were served with fries and some pickled daikon (unbelievably intense pickled flavor).

After dining we explored the store a bit and I eventually decided to pick up a few items. Vegetable, leek, and pork dumplings with some dumpling sauce to go with them. Steamed juicy pork puns (I've been craving these for a long time). Pickled radish, shelled soy beans, and milk tea - a sweet drink Scott recommended to me. I also found some honey powder (not Asian at all, but I hadn't seen it before) - apparently it can be used the same way you use sugar. Figured it was worth a shot. Elizabeth is trying to avoid processed sugar (among other things), so maybe she can use this instead. After adding some run-of-the-mill items to my cart (carrots, plantains, green tea) I checked out.

I had to restrain myself a bit from buying everything interesting I found in the store. There will be other shopping trips! I am excited to try the things I did pick up, especially those pork buns. Mmm.