For dinner on Sunday night, I enjoyed a whole fresh black sea bass from H Mart -- baked in an aluminum-foil pouch for 30 minutes at 450 degrees with fresh tomato, onion, garlic and lime juice. You'll also need a spoon to enjoy the resulting soup.
By VICTOR E. SASSON
The biggest H Mart in Bergen County also is the busiest, and parking in the big lot can be tough.
But on Sunday afternoon, to my surprise, there were plenty of empty spaces at the Super H Mart in Ridgefield.
The shopping challenge was inside -- narrow aisles and customers with carts stopping for free food samples -- every four or five feet it seemed -- more than at the other H Marts in Fort Lee, Englewood, Leonia and Little Ferry (weekends only).
If you've never tried Korean food, here is an ideal place to sample cooked and dried fish and other seafood; tofu, soup, cold or hot noodles, dumplings, meat, sausage and the traditional side dishes that accompany every meal.
Adding to the shopping experience, Korean-American college students and other food samplers call out what they are offering in Korean.
But when I had questions -- such as, "Is there any meat in that?" -- all of the ones I spoke to on Sunday were bilingual.
The night before, we drove to Palisades Park for dinner at So Gong Dong, a popular restaurant for Korean comfort food -- soft-tofu stew with all the trimmings for only $10.
A confusing sign on fresh wild salmon lists two species, Sockeye and Coho.
Among the many free food samples on Sunday was cooked top shell, also called whelk or sea snail, dipped in a spicy sauce.
|Wild-caught red snapper.|
|The biggest H Mart in Bergen County is in Ridgefield.|
Super H Mart, 321 Broad Ave., Ridgefield; 1-201-943-9600. Open 7 days, free parking in large lot.
This H Mart is in a shopping center with other Korean businesses, including a bakery, restaurants and an appliance store.
Pajun, a grilled seafood-and-scallion pancake made from rice flour, is $11.99, and can be shared by four to six.
Clockwise from top, pickled radish, bean sprouts, cucumber kimchi, cabbage kimchi, a dipping sauce for the grilled pancake and seaweed in gochujang, a red-pepper paste.
My wife's stone bowl of soft tofu was bubbling furiously when brought to the table, ideal for poaching the fresh egg that comes with it. This bowl of Pork Soft Tofu is Medium Spicy, one of the spice levels you can specify.
So Gong Dong offers 11 soft-tofu stews with a fresh egg, steamed rice and five side dishes, a complete meal for $9.99 (rounded up to $10 on the check, including tax).
Big tables are designed to accommodate multi-generational families or groups of men.
So Gong Dong, 118 Broad Ave., Second Floor, Palisades Park; 1-201-313-5550. Free parking on side streets.