The reign of Asian gourmet has arrived in the Chicago downtown neighborhood! For those who live in the downtown area and often shop for Asian food ingredients, H-Mart Supermarket opening in the West Loop area is as good as downtown living can get. H-Mart is not your everyday grocer, nor is it your mom and pop Asian grocer found in Chinatown or Argyle. It is a quality Korean supermarket chain that I am too well familiar of, coming from Texas where a large Asian population created demand for the grocer's expansion. Although not as large as the branches in Texas, the West Loop location boasts 1 bakery, 3 food court eateries, and a wide range of Asian ingredients to shop from, specifically Korean, Japanese, and Chinese. Read on to get the scoop on this hot-off-the-press supermarket before you make a visit.
711 W Jackson Blvd
Chicago, IL 60661
Hours: Daily 9AM -9PM
There are 3 vendors selling different style of snacks and meals.
One of my favorite section at H-Mart, second to the beauty product section (yes! K-beauty and J-beauty!), is the bakery, Cafe L'Ami. A french themed boulangerie and patisserie displaying a wholesome row of fresh breads and glossy cakes. The breads are reminiscence of Pastry House Hippo at Mitsuwa Japanese Marketplace, carrying items such as Blueberry Danish, Korean Hot Dog, and milk breads (perfect for Shibuya honey toast!) As if that wasn't enough, the bakery also serves ice-cream, coffee, and Korean tea.
The bakery is separated from the market place so you would either have to finish shopping your groceries and swing by on your way out, or skip to the dining hall near the exit passage way. Surprisingly, Royce Chocolate had a popup store right next to Cafe L'Ami. Not sure if it's going to turn into permanent thing but if you are craving for the decadent chocolate then you can count on their permanent store located on the Mag Mile at Nordstrom Northbridge.
White chocolate and cheese covered potato chips are divine! Royce is famous for their Nama chocolate squares but the potato chips are on another level. A must try!
Now for the finale. I'll keep it short and simple. Even though this H-mart is limited in space, the chain manages to maximize their space and inventory effectively. After opening multiple branches and presumably some market research, the product selection seems to really hone in on what the folks living in the downtown area are likely to purchase. The store offers a variety of choices that are most relevant to the current consumer, personifying the busy student, the hard working corporate fiend, the curious foodie, or the amateur chef. If you don't have time to cook, there's a large selection of frozen food, instant noodle, marinaded meat, and banchan that you can live off of. Otherwise, if you're an amateur chef like Gus and I, surprisingly this store has unique ingredients that can sufficiently supply our frequent cooking experiments. Gus was even saying how his culinary exploration will explode after having access to this gate way of shopping heaven (more great recipes to be published soon!)
Here are the sections.
Awesome display of the full size blue fin tuna. Although this might be a smaller size compared to the ones at Tsukiji market in Japan, up close, this fish is still remarkably huge!
One final note. I did notice that traffic waiting for a parking spot was bad, and the line spilled out into the main street. They do have a dedicated parking lot, but with the opening week crowd, it was crazy packed. It's probably better if you Uber here so you don't have to wait for parking.
Alright, well that sums up my review of H-Mart West Loop Chicago. All in all, Asians living in the downtown area are ecstatic that there's a closer option for grocery shopping other than Jewel Osco or Mariano's. There's tons of products to browse from and the first few weeks will be crowded like pictured below. If you have Asian friends, you might just accidentally bump into them because everybody who is anybody Asian will be there.
I'm super thrilled that this market has finally opened up after several years of rumors and hearsay. Interestingly, I've overheard locals who dropped by to see what the commotion was talked about how they thought this market will breathe a new life to the area. I personally think H-mart is a fantastic addition to the already diverse Downtown Chicago neighborhood. Not only is there a large number of Asians living and working in the area but also a growing appreciation for Korean and Japanese food trend that could catapult H-Mart into a favorite local spot for many years to come.
Two home cooks creating and tasting dishes from our lovely city of Chicago. Follow our world wide adventure as we discover ingredients, dishes, recipes, and the foodie way of life.
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