Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Fourth H Mart opens in Bergen County

H-Mart Sampler

 I visited the new H Mart in Fort Lee yesterday, the fourth supermarket opened by the Lyndhurst-based Korean chain in Bergen County. The company, which used to be known as Han Ah Reum, has stores in more than a dozen states.

The Fort Lee store appears to be bigger than the one in Englewood, where I shopped for years, but smaller than the Little Ferry supermarket, which is closer to my Hackensack home.

Fort Lee has the usual, great selection of fresh fish at relatively low prices. It's also the first H Mart I've seen that carries Coleman organic chicken and a second brand that says the birds are raised on a vegetarian diet without antibiotics. But I didn't see any beef  that was raised naturally, despite the importance of meat to the Korean diet.

There is also a terrific selection of greens, including Chinese broccoli, choy sum, regular and baby bok choy, and collard, plus others I'm not familiar with. I took home some leafy Chinese broccoli, but overcooked it. There is no food counter, as in other stores, but a French-Asian bakery called Tous Les Jours has a few tables for coffee and pastry.

The store, which has been open about three weeks in the old Kings Super Market space, didn't seem to have any real bargains, though it's possible it hasn't staged a grand opening yet. I also bought two prepared items: soft, sweet rice cakes with pumpkin and japchae, the translucent noodle dish made from sweet potatoes.

The company motto is: Better Food Better Living (no punctuation) and there is a cute video on its Web site showing a pregnant Korean woman sitting at home, reading and sipping tea, while her husband approaches on foot with two bulging plastic bags of H Mart food. When she opens the door and sees the food, she is "happy."

But what I've seen in more than a decade of shopping in H Mart is an army of Korean and other Asian women -- but few men -- filing their carts with enormous quantities of  beef and other food and then loading up their minivans or SUVs to rush home and start preparing dinner.

H Mart, 112-130 Linwood Plaza, Fort Lee; 201-947-7800

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