When you take the Norristown High Speed Line (cost: $2.75) towards Philly all the way to the end, you will find yourself in Upper Darby. Most simply pass through the terminal to catch a bus or subway to Center City. However, Upper Darby has more to offer to travelers than a mere pit stop. At 7052 Terminal Square, just a couple of blocks from 69th Street Station, you will find yourself at H-Mart, a grocery store in the midst of a small Korean District. Although it may be the only one you’ve ever seen, it is actually part of an American supermarket chain, specializing in imported Asian foods. Owned and operated by the Hanahreum Group, the H in H Mart stands for the Korean phrase Han Ah Reum, literally translating to “arm full of groceries”.
When you enter, you are able to shop in for groceries on the first level for the elements of traditional Asian cuisine, imported snacks, and more, or take the escalator to the second floor food court. There is a restaurant exclusively for sushi, another for pastries, and one specializing in traditional Chinese dishes. However, I chose to eat at the Korean restaurant to satisfy my craving for spicy food, and to try and get used to eating kimchi before I travel to Seoul this spring.
All dishes are served with seaweed soup, kimchi, and a bowl of white rice. The soup contains seaweed and small pieces of tofu that work well to balance the spicy taste of kimchi. Kimchi is a popular Korean side made from fermented cabbage, and is (warning!) VERY spicy. If you can’t handle hot, don’t even try it. After the first time you eat it your mouth will be burning for the next hour or so.
When you eat Korean food I highly recommend getting a red meat dish, because the marinades are unparalleled. I enjoy Bulgogi ($9.99), which is beef, onions, and mixed greens. For those that are a little more adventurous, I recommend Toganguk($7.99). The menu has the ingredients listed in English, so you can steer clear of the boiled squid legs if you so choose. For the vegetarians among us, the Bibimbop ($6.99) is a dish of mixed vegetables that can be served either cold or hot. Beware though, the serving size is HUGE, so you will definitely want to share with one or two friends.
As a side note, travel vigilantly when going to 69th street, and try to get back on the train to Villanova before 5:00 for safety purposes. Although this hidden gem is worth the trip, it’s always best to exercise caution when traveling to new places.
By Christine Fossaceca ’16