The Asians have a super secret chain of grocery stores called H Mart. I know about it because I am half Japanese so I get to shop there some of the time. I don’t know what the H stands for and they are not forthcoming with the information. H Mart is primarily in New York and New Jersey but they recently opened one near my office. The place is packed everyday and at every hour although it slows down between 1:00 and 3:00 which has been the only time I have been able to get a parking spot in the enormous parking lot. The store is gigantic and sells primarily Asian food in packaging with Asian writing on it so unless you recognize the picture or read an Asian language, you wouldn’t know what you are buying. There is one aisle with American food in it such as cans of Chef Boyardee, Palmolive and Velveeta. That isle is as big as the Asian food section in Stop & Shop. Beyond food, the store also sells basic Asian necessities such as rice cookers, soup spoons and bowls and toiletries that I was once only able to get when my grandmother would visit or send a care package from Hawaii. Oddly enough, the store also has several sub-stores in it including a store that sells North Face clothing, a cosmetic shop and a toy store that sells every item Pikachu, Astroboy and Hello Kitty have ever emblazoned. I’d say that at least 95% of the clientele is Asian and the other 5% are usually only found in the food court. The food court is small and offers Indian, Korean and Japanese food. There is also a bakery.
I go to this bakery anytime I can find a parking spot in the lot. The decadent offerings include standard Asian baked goods including red bean filled donuts, sweet potato cakes and milk bread. Everything is fresh and wrapped with more care than I take to wrap Christmas presents. The pastries are an absolute delight but there is one item that stands out above and beyond and is the reason I go. It’s the coffee. They serve the most delicious coffee that I have ever had and I have had lots of coffee form lots of different places. I love coffee. This coffee is clean like tea. It is smooth and light yet flavorful and crisp. It is one of only two places where I drink the coffee black. Today fortune was on my side. I drove past the enormous grocery store and there were at least 5 or 6 empty parking spots! I parked my car and hurried into the bakery where I found a new bakery offering labeled “Little Chocolates”. The labeling here is usually a bit cryptic and in broken English but these looked like a lovely bow tie shaped croissants with a delicate weaving of melted chocolate and sprinkled with paper thin sliced almonds. How could I resist. So I bought my usual coffee and snack and headed back to my office. As expected, the coffee was delicious but the pastry was beyond delicious. It was light like puff pastry and buttery and smooth like a croissant. A little slice of heaven for my afternoon. I hope I can find a parking spot there tomorrow.