H-Mart is named after a Korean phrase “Han Ah Reum” which means “arm full of groceries.” I left with a tummy full of food.

H-Mart is an Asian supermarket, with predominantly Korean products. From a corner store in New York City in 1982, it now has almost 50 stores across North America and one in London. The newest of four B.C. locations is in Richmond’s Aberdeen Centre. I was pleasantly surprised to find many sampling stations (like Costco).

Around almost every corner, staff were grilling pork, heating deep-fried seaweed rolls, and opening containers of kimchi and banchan for customers to sample. I confess I went back three times for “Crown bread,” a sweet loaf filled with fresh cream and cranberries.

There are a few counters where you can order cooked food. “Tasty Deli” has deep-fried goodies on sticks, sushi and stew. Another (called “Gourmet Korean”) makes rice and noodle dishes. The last counter, called “Wellbeing Snacks,” makes little walnut cakes and RICE POP MAGIC snacks.

H-Mart, Richmond, B.C.

If you have a toddler, RICE POP MAGIC is your best friend. Made of 99% rice flour with some salt and sugar, they last for three months and cost less than $3 for a giant bag. Unlike mainstream rice cakes, they actually have some taste. Most importantly, even the pickiest kid will devour these. That’s why they’re magic. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to see the magic machine in action, like in this video.

I was hoping to have bibimbap for lunch but sadly it wasn’t on the menu (for that day?). I settled for marinated pork on rice ($6.95). It came with a nice broth, and two little sides (kimchi and potatoes).

The pork — with pieces of carrot, green onion and cabbage — was covered in a thick sauce which I suspect was heavy with red pepper paste. It had quite a kick. I liked mixing in the fresh handfuls of greens that came on top. A refreshing touch.

Sunshine lit up the the quiet eating area as I took my time with my weekday lunch. I imagine it would be much busier and noisier on a weekend.

H-Mart, first floor, Aberdeen Centre, 4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond, B.C., (604) 233-0496.

Food counter open 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. Grocery store open 9 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.

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