I made it back to H Mart tonight around 8pm to check out the grocery side. I take back what I've said about Ebisuya not needing to be worried about H Mart. It's been a long time since I went to the Burlington H Mart but my impression is that Cambridge has a much larger selection of Japanese groceries than I saw at Burlington. The only advantages Ebisuya has are proximity to 93 and the Saturday Japanese school, free parking, native Japanese-speaking staff (actually, I don't know whether H Mart has Japanese staff but I would think the likelihood is low), pre-made Japanese food (bento, onigiri, etc.), and a shopping experience that doesn't feel like a roller derby. I really hope that H Mart Cambridge won't drive them out of business since they're the last remaining exclusively Japanese store in the area.
I didn't take a very close look at the produce. I saw gobo and nagaimo that looked fine (the gobo was reasonably priced but my friend thought the nagaimo was expensive). We also spotted very mouldy Driscoll strawberries as soon as we entered the grocery side. They were on top of the stack - kind of surprised they didn't pull it since it was impossible to miss.
I didn't make a careful study of prices but most things seemed reasonable. Their snack selection seemed to be about on par with what you'd find at Hong Kong Supermarket (formerly Super 88) in Allston.
The store was packed but I think a lot of people may have just been window shopping because the lines at the checkouts were not as bad as what I saw on Wednesday.
- more natto than I can recall seeing in my entire life
- a very large Spam selection
- a large matcha selection (compared to other local stores)
- a lot of mochi ice cream (I don't think I managed to get pictures of all of them - they had multiple brands)
- a wider variety of American groceries than I was expecting (perhaps they're hoping to compete with Whole Foods and Shaws)
I took as many pictures of the Japanese groceries & products as I could with a few other random photos like Spam. There was a lot of fresh & frozen raw meat but that section was too mobbed to get photos. I also didn't bother with photos of rice cookers and other kitchen and household products. A lot of them are hanging above your head so don't forget to look up. I didn't intentionally take any photos of Korean groceries. I know very little about Korean food so I have no comments. Photos begin here.
Over at Sapporo & Go Go Curry ramen & curry were entirely sold out as was much of the sushi menu. Paris Baguette also looked very well picked over. I did talk to José Garcia (partner in Sapporo Central) when I had dinner at Ebi Sushi tonight and he said they're going to figure that out. Sapporo and Go Go Curry's hours are officially 11am to 9pm. I'm going to guess tomorrow may be worse. If you want to go, go early.
4/26/14: I completely forgot to talk about parking last night. I got really lucky that seconds after I pulled in to Lot 5 and was wondering what to do because it looked full, a woman was walking to her car and waved indicating she was leaving. While I waited for her and her husband to put their child and groceries in the car, she came back and handed me her parking slip that she'd paid for until 9pm! I just love random acts of kindness. By the time I left though things were craaaazy in the parking lot. I tried to offer my space to someone in the same way the shopper before me had but somewhere in a crazy shuffle of 6 cars he disappeared, possibly because someone had come from the other side to steal the spot I was vacating. I can't stress enough that if you can leave your car at home, you'll definitely want to do that.
See also: H Mart Cambridge is finally open!