Wednesday, April 23, 2014

H Mart Cambridge is finally open!

H Mart Cambridge Grand Opening

Much to my surprise, H Mart Cambridge opened on schedule today. It's been a long wait for H Mart fans and people waiting to try Sapporo Ramen's new Central Square menu and Go Go Curry. The rain may have kept some people away but when I got there around 1pm, it was a madhouse.

This line wraps around the corner

Things are pretty disorganized on the Sapporo/Go Go Curry side - there is only one cashier for both so you have to stand in the epicly long line* whether you're ordering ramen, curry, or grabbing take-out sushi. I'm told that the cashier is provided by H Mart so hopefully they'll figure out that doesn't work at all. (Update 4/28/14: H Mart has added an additional cashier although if you go at peak times the line is still long. I'm told that those buying only take out sushi can skip the line.) Oddly enough Paris Baguette had 2 dedicated cashiers & registers though they weren't always there. When I got to the front of the line at Paris Baguette, one cashier wandered away briefly.
* (The line was not as epic as Yume Wo Katare's often is, but it was longer than Sapporo Porter's usually is.)

I didn't have time to stay for lunch or fight the crowds to explore the grocery store so I just took a few pictures, bought a pumpkin cream cheese pastry at Paris Baguette (which sadly, isn't that great) and left. I think it'll be a while until I get there to try Go Go Curry and Sapporo's new menu. Next time I'll have to try the fake Cronut™.

Imitation Cronut

Grocery store

I was surprised that parking wasn't as hard as I expected although I may have just gotten lucky. I found an open spot on Bishop Allen Drive as soon as I crossed Norfolk Street and one empty parking space in the lot. When I left there were several empty spaces in the lot and on the street. If people don't stay long then there will be turnover in spaces, although if you can leave your car at home and take the T that's probably better, especially on weekends. You definitely don't want to drive there on Mondays before 6pm when the Central Square Farmers Market takes over most of Lot 5 (May - November). You can also try Lot 4 at the corner of Bishop Allen and Essex Street but it's really small as is H Mart's private parking lot off Essex Street. There's also Lot 6 near Columbia Street. Note that all pay-by-space parking lots in Central Square require you to pay until 10pm. Meters have to be paid through 6pm.

H Mart's grocery store hours are 7am to midnight but I don't believe the food court will have the same hours. Sapporo and Go Go opened at 11am today, although I don't know if that will be their opening time every day. Neither Go Go Curry nor Paris Baguette have updated their websites with info on the Cambridge location and Sapporo doesn't have a web presence so I couldn't look up the hours. Paris Baguette also serves coffee and other drinks so they may be open all day. (Update 4/25/14: José Garcia of Sapporo Central told me that Sapporo and Go Go Curry's hours are 11am to 9pm daily.  I've heard that both have been running out of food early though hopefully they'll sort that out soon.)

Update 5/8/14: I'm told that Sapporo will be reconfiguring their kitchen to make room for another broth pot so hopefully they won't be out as early as they have been since the opening. That will unfortunately result in no more tempura for the maki.

Did anyone get to eat there today? How was it?

Photos from today begin here.

Update 4/25/14: I made it back to explore the grocery store.


  1. I was there around 11:45am. Food court was a madhouse already. As you said, having only one cashier for both ramen & curry doesn't work well. The curry shop staff told me they would soon be getting their own cashier setup. As the line was too long, I didn't get food this time. Still a bit disappointed they didn't have a Korean boonsik (casual food) restaurant as part of the food court.

    The curry shop hours are 10:50am - 9:50pm; I'm guessing same for Sapporo but I'm not sure. Also, from now until 5/5, many curries are only $5. They have coupons for this but told us that we don't really need them - just tell the cashier you want the special $5 deal and you should get it.

    I fared better at the bakery - the castella was decent and so was the Korean bread with peanut-butter crumbs.

    1. Hi lossless - I saw your comment about the cashier situation on chowhound after I'd posted this. That's good to hear. I was wondering if Go Go lost business because people didn't want to wait in the really long line. Thanks for pointing out the $5 deal. I saw the signs and coupons but didn't look too closely and thought the deal was only for 5/5.

      When I first heard about H Mart's food court I was a little surprised they weren't going to include a Korean restaurant since I think of them as a Korean grocery store but it sounds like from the array of products they're carrying that they're a business first and just want to offer what customers will buy (not just Korean groceries). I had heard they went with Japanese food because it's so popular right now. They got a lot of applications for those 3 spots so I'd imagine that Korean restaurants were among them.

    2. I went again today (Friday, day 3 of operation) around 4pm and they had 2 cash registers side by side. It seemed like one was being operated by the ramen shop, the other by the curry shop. I was in the mood for an afternoon ramen but was told I'd have to wait 30 minutes (!) and that I was lucky to do so because it was a 40 minute wait earlier. I passed.

      While it is odd that there isn't a Korean restaurant serving hot food, there are some decent wrapped-to-go Korean kimbap and bento-style packages inside the supermarket. The bentos seem like a decent deal at around $7 for plenty of rice, one "main" dish choice (squid, grilled fish, tofu, etc.) and lots of marinated banchan.

    3. I actually made it back there tonight to explore the grocery store. Saw that they had a bunch of prepared Korean meals. The store was mobbed but I think a lot of people were just looking like I was because the lines for checkout weren't too bad.

      30 minutes is actually not that bad. The lines at Sapporo Porter are often longer than that.

    4. That's 30 minutes at 4pm, though - not peak mealtime hour. There was no one in line before or after me. I chalked it up to them not being adequately prepared to handle the opening-week frenzy.

    5. Ohhh. I didn't realize you were the only one there. Chances are that means they hadn't timed the broth right. I overheard that happen at Pikaichi once when they'd had an unusually large crowd at lunch. By late afternoon they had to turn people away because the next batch of broth wasn't going to be ready for a while.

    6. I went to H Mart today and got the single curry @ Go Go Curry . They charged me full price and when I asked about the $5 deal they told me it's only valid the day of the grand opening 5/5. (Actually the cashier mistakenly told me that it was valid on the 5th, 15th, and 25th but that was actually some sort of topping deal - it said so right on the flyer he pointed to. When I talked to the manager at Go Go she told me that the $5 deal was only on the 5th.)

  2. Went around 4. I felt like I was in my own personal version of hell, it was so crowded and people were just pushing past me to get by. By that time they ran out of ramen... I did get a really good pan de chocolate though. My boyfriend went again Thursday and he said it was a lot less crowded.

    1. Haha! People weren't too rude when I was there but it did seem like a fire hazard and I was glad to get out of there. I also nearly stepped on a small child whose mom was holding on to her hand but she was flailing about and ended up in my path. Good thing for her I wasn't a large man!

      One of my friends went late on Thursday night and said it wasn't crowded at all so I guess I'll have to go late to check out the grocery section. Not surprised they ran out of ramen.