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Atlanta: Super H Mart

by Hilton Kean Jones on June 21, 2008

in Food

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!


Super H Mart on Urbanspoon

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Lucy June 23, 2008 at 3:31 am

Durian looks like what we call Jackfruit here in Hawaii. Great post, Hilton! And an interesting place!


Seouleats June 24, 2008 at 7:05 pm

Durian affects people in different ways. I mean, I get the nastiest burps after eating it. Durian Milkshakes do sound intriguing. I’ll have to give them a go. AWESOME pictures! Wow!


Say Lee June 25, 2008 at 8:37 pm

Actually, Durian and Jackfruit (the one we know from Malaysia) are two different fruits, both in surface texture (the former has thorns) and in aroma (again, the former’s is, well, foul, as you put it, for the uninitiated).

The mere mention of Durian, which is known as the King of the Fruits back home, makes our mouths water. To us, it’s foul smell is God-sent delight. I’m surprised that you are able to get over the smell and develop a liking for it, which is definitely no mean feat for a westerner.


Ann January 6, 2009 at 9:20 am

Awesome sight Hilton! We just visited the mart on Saturday, we love it for the produce and meats mostly. I’m Super H Mart will make its way to you sometime soon. They’re opening up like crazy here in Atlanta. We enjoyed making the Chicken Tikka Masala recipe you recommended too, yummo! Thanks for the suggestion! Great pics!


Lohith January 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Jack fruit is grown more in India… (Karnataka & Kerala border)


Paul March 17, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Great article! I just went to the Super H today, which I do every time I go out to the burbs. I think there are two reasons that the census bureau has the asian population, in Atlanta, at such a low. First, there are no Super H Marts in Atlanta as they are all in the suburban cities, the best of which are in Duluth. While this is part of Metro Atlanta, it is definitely NOT Atlanta, nor do they want to be when they vote to keep money out of the city. The second might be that the asian population really took off in Duluth after 2001, I have no idea why, though. It was really booming when we moved back in town in 2005.

Anyway, thanks for the great post and the terrific pictures.


Ariane January 23, 2011 at 12:56 am

I went there today! I always go to Buford Farmers Market. The store I went to ( Doraville) is kinda tiny compared to Buford FM. What I love about it though is the FOOD COURT! I haven’t had REAL Hongkong food for 2 years. ( Since I left my country, the Philippines) I was so happy to see the sign “HongKong”. And the Korean beauty store is also to die for! All those face mask and beauty stuff. I had to stop myself from hoarding, they were so cheap, $1 each for a facial mask. They sell those for over $10 at Ebay! I now have a new favorite, even if it’s smaller and has fewer selections. What I love most are the people who work there. Koreans are extremly nice, and the Latinos are hard-workers too!


kim September 10, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Kimchi has germs that are very and I mean very important and good for your insides (intestinces)


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