Cashiers at the H Mart food court in Cary.

Korean fare holds food court at Cary’s H Mart

If Bill Hader’s kittenish character Stefon from “Saturday Night Live” was asked to describe Cary’s newest Korean grocer H Mart, it might go something like this:

The hottest new Asian grocery store in Cary has it all! This place really has everything: fresh produce, a whole wall of kimchi, banchan to-go, marinated meats, sushi-grade seafood, a bakery, and K-beauty products.

Indeed, a lot is jam-packed into the 46,000 square-foot space, and it even boasts a mini food court aptly named “K-town” that serves, according to the sign that hangs above the cashiers, “authentic Korean food for everyone”. Several food stalls are housed in the east wing of the grocery store: Kang Nam Town (South Korean), Thai Pantry (Thai), Don Don Udonburi (noodles), BBQ Chicken (Korean fried chicken), and Sogongdong Tofuhouse (Korean soup and noodles). Tsuki, located on the opposite end of the store, serves ramen and other Japanese fare.

Cashiers at the H Mart food court in Cary.
Cashiers at the H Mart food court in Cary.

I was warned ahead of time before my weekend visit to H Mart’s food court that the ordering system was a bit, how should I say, janky. First-time visitors might be slightly puzzled when they first approach the food court. Each food stall displays their own menu on the televisions that hang next to it, but guests can only order at one of the two cashiers under the main stall with the comprehensive menu that hang above. You’d be wise to take a close look at each of the menus and memorize the corresponding letter and number combination well before you step up to the register or you’ll become overwhelmed with all the choices. Once you order, you receive a number and wait for it be called on PA system, and then pick up your order at the individual stall that displays the number overhead.

Sogongdong Tofuhouse at H Mart in Cary.
Sogongdong Tofuhouse at H Mart in Cary.

The system works fine for single orders, but if you’re ordering for a family, you might be overwhelmed with picking up orders from different stalls while hearing your ticket number repeatedly being called much to the chagrin of fellow diners. It’s certainly convoluted and you’ll hear a good amount of grousing from others while you wait around for your food.

Soondubu jjigae noodle ramen at H Mart in Cary.
Soondubu jjigae noodle ramen at H Mart in Cary.

You might be pacified from your troubles once your receive your food. The soondubu jjigae noodle ramen ($9.99) from Sogongdong Tofuhouse is a good value, a fiery bowl of silky tofu stew speckled with beef, mushrooms and scallions with a mound of slippery ramen noodles submerged underneath. Beware, if you want water from the water cooler to tame the spice, though. The Styrofoam cups are small, and if you need refills, you might be waiting in line for a while. The unagi don, at nearly $13, is slightly disappointing, with its caramelized eel filets erring more on the bland side, made even moreso when served on a cushion of steamed white rice.

Unagi don at H Mart in Cary
Unagi don at H Mart in Cary.

The beauty of a food court, like the one at H Mart, is that there’s something new to try even if you come across some duds. My first visit will not certainly not be my last.

H MART | 1961 High House Road Cary, NC 27519 | 919.535.5900

 

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