Sunday, May 24, 2009

H-Mart or Han Ah Reum?

The biggest Korean super market chain on the East Coast, Han Ah Reum (한아름 hana-room), seems to be re-branding itself as H-Mart, at least in the English speaking world. I don't think the re-branding is happening as much in Korean, at least not to the same extent. The problem with this de facto two names/one store (i.e. Han Ah Reum vs. H-Mart), is it can be quite confusing for English speakers and Korean speakers when talking about the same store with one another. I've encountered this problem before with other Korean/English name translations and it's definitely something people should be aware of and avoid in the future for successful marketing.

Anyway, according to the Wikipedia entry on H-Mart, the branch in Woodside (61st and Woodside Ave) was the very first branch! And according to my estimates, there are 6 branches in the five boroughs alone, four in Flushing (including Goowha Market, which was taken over about a year or so ago)--two on Northern, one on Un
ion and Goowha on 41st Ave, the Original Gangsta in Woodside, and a branch in K-Town on 32nd street, in Manhattan. And I know there's got to be at least one branch in NJ. So that's at least seven in the Tri-State alone! Plus, the super market franchise is branching out all over. I was in Denver not too long ago and was completely surprised when I saw how large the H-Mart there is (bigger than any of the NY branches). The only place H-Mart hasn't successfully penetrated is LA, or so I've heard. Over there, from what I understand, people are all about the Assi Super Markets.

Other Korean super markets here in the five boroughs are Hanyang and th
ere is a branch of Assi. The Hanyang is pretty good (located on Northern near the KFC), and I understand it stays open 24 hrs a day, which is something the H-Marts don't do. *(UPDATE-most don't seem to, but the one at 141-40 Northern does). I haven't been to the Assi market, located on College Point Blvd; it looks old and run down.

But, I'd have to say that my favorite Korean super market--outside of Korea--is Palama Super Market. My favorite branch is located in Makiki, Honolulu. This place's specials aren't all that great--although they're decent at times--but it does have awesome food in the food
court. And the prices, oh my goodness, the prices are unbelievable: $5.00 - 8.00 for humongous portions of absolutely delicious Koren food--naengmyun, bibimbap, ojingodopbap, LA kalbi. Got my mouth watering just thinking about it. Check out Palama's food descriptions on Yelp and next time you're in Honolulu make sure to stop in!

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