The East Village lost a sprawling Asian grocery when M2M closed two years ago, but now, just a block away at 39 Third Avenue, the NYU area has gained H Mart, a Korean-American supermarket overflowing with imported Asian delicacies. The first H Mart opened in Woodside, Queens in 1982, and the chain now has dozens of locations across the country. Like its Koreatown outpost, this one boasts an entire aisle of instant ramen and entire freezers packed with frozen dumplings. There’s a kimchi corner, shelves upon shelves of obscure candies and crackers, and, for the connoisseur, multiple brands of preserved duck egg. Here are some of the delightful finds we encountered as we browsed the aisles to the soothing sounds of K-pop.
1. Cellulite roller
It’s not quite as Insta-trendy as a jade roller, but the package makes a convincing argument: “Let’s care for your body in the everyday bath room!”
2. Itty, bitty soft-serve cones
Unlike Mister Softee cones, which fill you with calories and regret, these lil guys are about the size of your thumb.
3. Silkworm pupae
The last time I encountered these critters was at Jumong Pocha in Fort Lee, New Jersey. I had to eat a family-size portion because my dinner companion was unwilling to help. Her loss! They snap and crackle in your mouth, kind of like giant, dirt-flavored Rice Krispies.
4. Corn ice cream on the cob
This has been called a “Korean corn ice cream novelty fail,” but I couldn’t disagree more. Where sweet-corn ice cream covered in chocolate smut is concerned, a faux-cob wafer beats a cone every time.
5. Durian pops
A wise man (Anthony Bourdain) once said that durian tastes “as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother,” and the popsicle version is no exception. Refreshing though it may be, it’ll still stink up an office (apologies to my coworkers, if they’re reading this) and it still tastes like an onion that’s been sitting in a dumpster—albeit a dumpster on a snowy day.
6. DIY tapioca balls
Add these tapioca pearls—made from tapioca starch, water, corn starch, guar gum, and a chemistry lab’s worth of additives— to boiling water and, after they’ve floated to the surface, cook them for two or three minutes. After 20 seconds in cold water, they’re ready to be plopped into your drink of choice. Conveniently, H Mart has an entire tea section stocked with boba powder and Thai iced tea bags.
7. Dubiously named wafers
Yes, the name of these matcha and chocolate cookies translates (in Flengrish) to “ass cookies.” But they’re actually quite delicious, making them the perfect conversation piece at your next dinner party.
8. Canned tuna endorsed by a hot guy
Too much tuna? Not for this stud who is totally feeling his tuna in canola oil. Clearly, the spokesman for this Dong Won product is a Dong Won don juan.
9. Bean-curd jerky on a stick
This rubbery faux beef jerky is made from soybean curd that’s slathered in a spicy Sichuan sauce. Curd this be love?
10. $3.60 caviar
H Mart’s sushi fridge includes several varieties of fish eggs. Squirt a little bit of Kewpie mayo on this combination of flying fish and herring roe and you’ve got some seriously low-rent caviar service.
11. Single-serving pour-over pouches
Sorry, coffee dweebs, I’m not about to waste precious minutes grinding beans and waiting for the “bloom” atop a Chemex. Pop one of these pouches full of ground coffee onto your mug, pour hot water in, and boom, you’ve got your morning cuppa.
12. Milk shake nipple
Squeezing a pouch and sucking ice cream out of a plastic nipple is seriously addictive, and that’s why I had to use a stock photo of Snow Ice instead of buying it and photographing it myself. I cannot be trusted around this stuff. The manufacturer, Lotte, promises “countless moments of heart fluttering,” and that is not overstating it, particularly when it comes to the Milk Shake and Cookies & Cream varieties. The pouches come in bags of five that you tear open like a desperate animal.
13. The world’s spiciest instant ramen
Described by the world’s best-worst competitive eater, LA Beast, as the “spiciest ramen noodles in existence” (be warned: the above video does not end well), these noodz are no joke. Slurp them down and the snot will be flowing within seconds; your lips will feel like they’ve been rubbed down with sandpaper slathered in Mala sauce. Seriously, the last time I ate something this punishingly hot was when I made the mistake of ordering a “Thai spicy”-level papaya salad at Thai Rock, in Rockaway Beach, and was told there would be no refund if I couldn’t finish. If you attempt this, keep a few of those miniature soft-serve cones handy.