Please take just a second and click on this link: Super H Mart. Thanks! Neat, huh? That’s the main page for a Korean grocery store chain that I truly, truly wish had a branch in Tampabay. Now, if you haven’t already done so, return to that link and in the upper right hand corner, click on the word, “English” and explore the site a bit. [Patiently waiting while Leroy Anderson’s “Syncopated Clock” plays in the background...can’t remember how it goes? Sure you do: listen to a sample of it HERE.] I hope you enjoyed your exploration of the Super H Mart website; I certainly enjoyed exploring a bricks-and-mortar store of theirs when, recently, I visited my son, who lives in Atlanta.
My son shares my enthusiasm for things Asian, including Asian food. We spent one whole day together trooping around part of the city, checking out different international markets and restaurants. I don’t know if he shares my enthusiasm for durian—the fruit pictured above near the entrance to Super H Mart. I absolutely adore durian in every form, including milkshakes. The only problem is, its smell is so foul (!) that there are signs all over hotels in Asia prohibiting taking any to your room! Even when just having a durian milkshake in a restaurant, other nearby customers glare at you and, when you order it, the waiter always asks, “Are you sure?!”
The Super H Mart has a food court that, as you can see, is extensive. What you can’t see so easily is that all of the foods are Korean cuisine. Even Korean restaurants—which, sadly, are few in Tampabay (although there are a couple to be covered in the future)—never offer as wide a selection of dishes as this food court. One could eat there daily for a month and not repeat a choice. All the foods are freshly, and continuously, prepared.
Even though my son and I limited our adventures to just a small section of Atlanta near his home, we still didn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Atlanta is definitely a cosmopolitan city. Although the U.S. Census Bureau gives the Asian population of the city of Atlanta as only 1.9%, judging from the number of commercial establishments, it seems much larger. That may be because there is a relatively large number of foreign born citizens in Atlanta (6.6% of the population) who, perhaps, have an intense interest in preserving–duplicating even–the familiar resources of their original homelands.
Whatever the reason, Atlanta’s diverse population is very much in evidence, especially when it comes to food. For that reason, today’s post, and the next two, are going to cover three gems from Atlanta’s bounty of wonderful ethnic culinary treasures.
Pictured above are live (very much alive) crabs that one may choose, take home alive, and boil alive for supper. Live seafood is not at all unusual in Asian markets. Nor, for that matter, unusual in Asian restaurants. At China Yuan over in Tampa—to be covered in a coming post—you can ask for the live, swimming eel of your choice to be prepared for your dinner. Of course, live lobsters are commonplace in even non-Asian seafood restaurants. Buying and boiling live crustaceans was a common event along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi when I was a youth. It still is in certain parts of the coast and over in Louisiana.
Although there is a world-wide shortage of rice, there is certainly no shortage of rice steamers at the Super H Mart. I think it may be time to replace my own soon…wonder if there’s an under-the-counter model to conserve countertop space!
This sweet, wonderful woman agreed, happily, to pose for us and to be pictured in my blog. She was selling an assortment of fresh, sweet sticky rice cakes. If you ever have the chance to try sticky rice, please do yourself a favor and buy extra. You’re more likely to see it advertised as mochi (the Japanese word for it) than as hangul (the Korean word) or even “sticky rice.” Asian desserts are excruciatingly SWEET! Mochi is no exception. I enjoyed it far too often while living in Hawaii where it is much too readily available to us carb addicts.
Hey…what do you expect?! It’s a Korean supermarket. That’s an entire wall of kimchi! Kimchi is fermented and highly seasoned cabbage. Wonderful stuff. (Do take into consideration that that opinion is from someone who likes to drink sauerkraut juice!) Kimchi is just one of the many vegetable side dishes (usually at least 6) that are served with all Korean meals. These dishes are called banchan. Banchan is THE primary reason I enjoy eating at Korean restaurants. (Talk about getting your fiber!) Coming soon will be more on my ethnic culinary adventures in Atlanta with my son, including an outstanding Korean restaurant there…and lots of kimchi!
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