Adventure to H-mart: A Korean food and language adventure!

by: Raine

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In my wonderful little town of Fort Collins, Colorado there are many wonderful things to eat, fun places to go, and other fun to be had. For Korean foodies like me there are a couple of little convenience stores that sell the staples: kimchi, soy bean paste, and red pepper paste. But every once and a while I long for something, well, bigger than a convenience store tethered to a gas station or sharing shop space with a liquor store. I deeply appreciate these little getaways into Korean cuisine, but sometimes a foodie needs a trip to a bigger store. A store like H-Mart.

I’ve often been to the H-Mart down in Aurora. It’s a haven of Korean cuisine and lifestyle. It also carries foods and spices from Asia East and West and customers who walk the aisles are from every walk of life. What I love about these stores is the freshness of the food and the abundance of choice. The aisles can get a bit confusing, but on a foodie adventure, one doesn’t need a map. The point is to explore!

This last trip I took with a friend was to the H-Mart in Westminster. I’d never been there before, but it is closer to FoCO so we decided to check it out. Because I was heading to Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest afterwards I got done up. I could’ve done it later, but let’s face it, I always jump at the change to do my makeup! Check it:20150815_124854 (1)

The Westminster H-Mart is not as big as its sister store in Aurora, but there were kindly ajummas with samples of fruit to offer the moment we walked in the store. We indulged in the slightly expensive, but succulent fruit and I know that I need some seriously therapy for all the impulse buying that I indulged in. I bought a ginormous bag of rice for $15 bucks, Korean strawberry jam (because I could read the label in Korean and I was proud of myself), and freshly made kimbap, curry, and seaweed soup. I can make them all, but there is something about having store bought soups and kimbap. Maybe it’s that my kimbap explodes out of its seaweed wrapping…ANYWHO! It was fun perusing the goods from all over Asia. It prompted plans for another trip to try out all the snacks that we found in the aisles.

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  1. Leftover jjamppong, curry, and (invisible) seaweed soup
  2. Strawberry Jam
  3. MONSTER BAG OF RICE!

The best part of the trip for me, besides loading up on some desperately needed Korean eats, was LUNCH TIME! *bells and whistles* I admit I was apprehensive because I had decided to put my Korean lessons to use: I was going to order in Korean. We sat at the restaurant in H-Mart and I dived right in to my Korean real life practice. Our server looked mildly surprised but immediately jumped into Korean and the whole experience was so whirlwind fast and overwhelming that it was over before I realized I’d had a short conversation. My ego was pleased when my friend stared at me with wide eyes and jaw unhinged. Reviewing the conversation in my head I corrected my grammar, but it was still thrilling to put the beautiful language to use. And even more thrilling to get delicious jjamppong and jjajangmyun out of it.

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  1. JJamppong
  2. JJajangmyun

Let’s have a spaz attack over speaking Korean: @#$%$%^$%^&#$%@#$% *jump up and down* !@#$$^@#$

It’s the funnest language to use with its lilt and structure and melodic phrasing. I really appreciate the server’s patience with me when I attempted more Korean and had to repeat myself a few times. I also appreciate the cook coming out to talk to me ’cause she thought I was  adorable in my attempt to speak her native language.

The food itself was delicious. The broth of the jjamppong was savory and had just enough kick to cancel out the seafood flavoring. The jjajangmyun had tender meat and well-cooked vegetables. The noodles for both were made in-house and were wonderfully chewy.

After lunch we hopped right next door to the bakery where we ordered patbingsu/red bean shaved ice. More Korean verbiage followed and my ego soared when the cashier complimented my halting Korean. Now that my ego has been stroked, it knows that it must study more because these finite exchanges aren’t the truest test of the language (although they were so much fun!)

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I want to thank my friend for coming with me and enjoying our explorations as much as I did. Until next time when I review Korean junk food, 안녕!

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