Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Grazing on free food samples at two large Korean supermakets

At $24.99, boxes of sweet potatoes on sale at H&Y Marketplace in Ridgfield still are more expensive than smaller quantities at ShopRite, Costco Wholesale and Trader Joe's.


Fresh fruit, dumplings, tofu and noodles are among the free samples available on weekends at Korean supermarkets in Ridgefield and Little Ferry.

H&Y Marketplace in Ridgefield is smaller than the Super H Mart down the road, but a lot less crowded and easier to navigate on a Sunday.

True, there are fewer samples at H&Y.

But the shopping center at 1 Remsen Place also boasts a storefront where Arirang Kimchi set up shop after many years of turning out preservative-free cabbage, cucumber and other kimchis in Englewood.

H&Y also sells Jun's Tofu, a GMO-free product made in the store, and a refrigerated gochujang, a spicy red-pepper paste made with sugar, not high fructose corn syrup.

I purchased cooked conch, one of the samples I tried ($7.99 a pound).

In a bid to drum up business, H&Y is now offering buy one and get one free on hundreds of items on the first day of every month.

Free samples of fresh fruit, above and below, are among the choices on weekends at H&Y Marketplace, a Korean supermarket at 1 Remsen Place in Ridgefield.

After enjoying fresh fruit, cooked conch and other samples at H&Y, I went next door to buy two jars of cabbage kimchi at Arirang Kimchi. 

At H Mart in Little Ferry, a refrigerated case holding panchan or side dishes that are served at every Korean meal. The price of this prepared food from Jinga and other outside Korean caterers has spiked in the past year.

Free samples at H Mart

The shabby H Mart in Little Ferry probably offers more free samples on weekends than any other store in the chain outside of Super H Mart, but you don't have to fight crowds, just navigate around potholes and floods in the parking lot.

Usually, H Mart also has bigger discounts than H&Y.

Near H Mart's fresh-fish counter on Sunday, I tried cooked whelk and octopus, and raw farmed-salmon sashimi.

Elsewhere, there were samples of cold noodles topped with a bit of ice and thick udon noodles in hot broth; two kinds of meat-free dumplings, small squares of fried tofu, curry with vegetables over white rice and more fresh fruit.

At H Mart in Little Ferry, 15-pound bags of Kokuho Yellow Label Rice, grown in California, are deeply discounted until Dec. 31, below.

Also on sale at H Mart were 16-portion boxes of dry Shin Ramyun Gourmet Spicy Noodles for $9.99.

Free samples of cooked whelk and octopus with a small plate of gochujang, a spicy red-pepper paste.

Three of the side dishes I brought home from H Mart in Little Ferry are Stewed Tofu, bottom right, (a dozen pieces for $4.99); Bu-Chu Dumplings filled with noodles and crumbled tofu, left (eight for $5.99), and Japchae, stir-fried translucent noodles made from yam flour ($5.49). I had them for breakfast with a simple egg-white omelet stuffed with reduced-fat Swiss cheese.

Arirang's Mahk or Cabbage Kimchi. Made by hand without MSG or preservatives, a 64-ounce jar is about $11.

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