When it comes to food courts, I’m usually not a huge fan but if you enjoy Asian eats, you’ll really like the H Mart out in Cary. This single, Triangle location for a chain of Korean supermarkets has a large Asian food court. From Korean to Japanese, Taiwanese, and Thai I’m pretty sure something here at the H Mart food court will tickle your fancy.
Head on over to High House and Davis Road and in the same plaza as Doherty’s Irish Pub, you’ll find the huge H Mart store. Focused on Korean groceries, you’ll find a tremendous variety of fresh produce, seafood, and meats that will make Grand Asia’s selection pale in comparison. From Asian pears to rambutan, sugar cane, and more, the produce section at H Mart rocks. Admittedly, it may be a bit pricier than Grand Asia Market but what can you do?
Over in the meat area, you’ll find all sorts of pork and beef cuts that would be hard to find anywhere else. Including pre-sliced meats for Asian specialties like hot pots, bulgogi, and galbi. The seafood section is wonderful and includes live lobster, giant prawns, and much more. And while I haven’t tried the in-house bakery, Tous Les Jours, they have beautiful cakes and macarons, I’ve heard it’s an excellent option for French-style sweets and cakes.
But we’re all about the food court which is conveniently located on the right hand side of the H Mart entrance. In this authentic, ethnic food court you’ll find a variety of storefronts with all sorts of interesting names: Sogongdong Tofu House, Soo Carolina Chicken, Mat Jib, Love Bao Taiwanese Kitchen, Don-Don Udon-Donburi ring the food court. There’s a final option, Koon Nine Thai on the other side of the produce area, to the left, don’t miss it!
Each food stall has its own cash register and menu overhead or on HD panels. Take a walk around to see what your food options are, the menus are H Mart’s food court is super diverse. You can get pad thai, drunken noodles, curry, General Tso, udon noodles, donburi, bibimbap, galbi (short ribs), Korean hot dogs just to start. Note that while the food court here is not expensive, it’s not cheap either with most item prices ranging from $8 to $18. It’s all pretty casual and delicious here, a common dining area jammed with diners makes you believe the food here has GOT to be good.
While the food court is pretty large at H Mart, the seating/dining area is a bit small and crowded for the number of patrons it handles. And since the food is to order, it takes some time. At the end of the meal, each food stall has its own waste area and spot to return plates and dinnerware. There are also some vending machines for water and soda if you don’t grab a drink from the stall you order your meal from.
If you’re into Korean fried chicken, Soo Carolina chicken serves about 8 or so types, my sweet and spicy chicken is wonderful. Korean fried chicken is double-fried resulting in a thick, dense crust smothered in a mostly sweet sauce. And it’s a huge portion with 10 or so pieces for the half order ($13). The chicken is tender and perfectly cooked, I only take a couple of bites because I want to save my appetite for the main meal. The entrees at H Mart are served up on plastic trays and pretty basic dinnerware! Taking food home if you don’t finish your meal is not necessarily an easy option.
Next up is bulkogi from Kang Nam Town and at $16, it’s not a cheap plate. But H Mart serves it up sizzling on a thick ceramic platter with banchan (pickled sides) and a nice portion of short grain rice (sticky). The beef is sauteed ribeye with the sweet tinge from a great soy-sesame-sugar marinade. It’s all a nice contrast from the savory onions and part of why I love this classic Korean dish. Paired with the rice, it’s a very tasty treat and very well-done. I wolf down as much as I can but it’s a lot of food, especially since I snuck in some chicken beforehand.
On another visit, I tried out the pork katsudon which was quite good. A large, sliced, pork cutlet/chop is simmered with egg and laid over a bowl of rice. True comfort food in my eyes. Paired up with some shrimp gyoza and you’ve got yourself an excellent Japanese meal. Thai Koon Nine does some super authentic Thai eats and has some items on their menu that I barely recognized. But I’ve been able to try their Basil pork and rice along with their pad kee mao which had a real kick.
As you finish up your meal and given the shared communal dining area, any clean-up is appreciated. H Mart suggests self-busing your tray and plate back to the stall you get it from. So overall I was pretty happy with H Mart’s food court but there are definitely some imperfections. They are super skimpy with their napkins and a lot of the food is served in styrofoam, ugh. I’ve found some of these same challenges at the food court at Grand Asia Market but it’s compounded here at H Mart.
But even with all those challenges, I’d come back to try out more food and more stalls. Dealing with all these service quirks is the price you pay to get authentic Asian eats here. You’d be best off coming with 2 – 4 people so you can divide and conquer on the food and seating. So thank you H Mart for bringing more options to the Korean and Asian eats table. It’s hard to get more authentic eats than what you are serving here. It