H Mart Groceries & More, Cary, NC

When I first heard about H Mart, it was in a local newspaper article, which stated that it is a chain from New Jersey, adding that the local Asian community was barely able to control its excitement. A few days later, a local TV news broadcast aired video of the grand opening and I realized that the article wasn’t exaggerating –

(Photo from News & Observer, Raleigh, NC)

The parking lot was packed, both with cars and people, filling the driving space like 90’s concert goers in a mosh pit, except these people were gripping tightly to shopping carts and jostling for position to enter the doors of the amazing H Mart. I knew we’d have to go, but maybe wait a few weeks until the furor died down.

As we entered the store, I couldn’t help but be amazed by the sheer size of it, the quantity of goods on display, and the sheer number of shoppers already there – on a Wednesday at noon!!!

There is a food court with multiple mini-restaurants and there are also a few more food vendors scattered around the store to choose from, for Asian and Asian-inspired food. We opted for Vegetable Bibimbap from Tofu House and a veggie ramen bowl from Tsuki.

H-Mart ramen

(Veggie ramen from Tsuki)

So, after we finished lunch, we began the lengthy hike that is a full, aisle-by-aisle tour of the store. The produce section alone is . . . well, take a look at part of what’s available here:

You can find so many interesting and exotic fruits and vegetables here, just going to look at them is worth the trip. The rest of the store is aisle upon aisle of mostly Asian foods and products, but there are also a few sections reserved for American products, mostly priced at 50% more than their usual price. (The cost of one-stop shopping, maybe?)

Also, there’s a cosmetics/toiletries shop and a French bakery, Tous Les Jours, which has beautiful cakes, breads and pastries –

 

My advice is to steer clear of the bakery unless you’re OK with mandatory impulse purchases. No kidding – I dare you to walk in, look around and then walk out empty handed (It’s just not gonna happen).

All in all, H Mart isn’t just shopping, it’s an Asian shopping amusement park, complete with wonders and dangers around every corner (some of the items in jars and vacuum sealed in bags are pretty scary). Just like any other amusement park there are long lines (in the food court and at checkout), but it’s OK, because this is free entertainment at its best. Don’t forget to bring your own bag and wear comfy shoes!

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