Eating at H Mart (Garden Grove, CA, December 2023)

Here now is my last meal report from our trip to Southern California in December. It covers two meals eaten in the food court of the H Mart in Garden Grove: the first, family dinner on Christmas Sunday, and the second, a quick midweek lunch eaten by me and the boys. Fittingly, this report will post on the blog on the Sunday that will be my last full day in Seoul.

Why did we eat Christmas dinner at the H Mart food court? Partly because “why not?” and partly because we didn’t want to deal with the waits at regular Garden Grove Korean restaurants—as we’d have had to do before eating at Mo Ran Gak on Christmas in 2021 if there hadn’t been an outdoor tented area. (Now, of course, the tented seating is seemingly gone from everywhere.) The fact that there was a second meal a few days later should tell you we quite liked the food.

It’s not a vast food court. The first section is dominated by two counters, one of which we got a fair bit of food from. The other section has three counters, two of which are closed on Sunday—we got food from one of these at the midweek meal.

We focused our attention at the first meal on what is undoubtedly the star of the food court, So Moon Nan Jokbal. Their specialty, as you may gather from their name, is jokbal or braised, deboned and sliced pork trotters. You wrap them in lettuce leaves with a bit of the dipping sauce etc. and chomp down. As we are big fans of soondae, the rice-stuffed Korean blood sausage, we opted to get the jokbal-soondae combo. And we doubled down on the soondae, also getting the soondae kookbap, which features soondae added to a hot stew (we got the spicy version) and eaten with rice. Both dishes came with a good range of banchan. All of this was very good indeed (if not quite at Seoul levels—as you might expect).

We also got an order of galbi tang from another counter, Dae Jang Gum. This was also very good with a broth with a clean but intense beefiness and very tender short rib. The banchan provided with this was on the skimpier side.

A few days later, while we waited for the missus to get done with an appointment, the boys and I stopped in for a quick lunch. We shared a plate of fried mandu/dumplings from the now-open MyungIn Dumplings. The boys further shared an order of don-katsu or breaded and fried pork cutlets; and I got a bowl of mul naengmyun. The latter two items were again from Dae Jang Gum. While the dumplings were fine and the boys enjoyed their don-katsu, my mul naengmyun, alas, was rather blah.

For a look at the food court and what we ate, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down for cost and to see what’s coming next.

The jokbal-soondae combo is pricey at $42, but it’s a lot of food—we took some of it to go and ate it for breakfast the next day. Everything else was priced very reasonably.

As we shop at this H Mart when in Seal Beach, odds are good we’ll eat more of their jokbal and soondae in the future. Not sure we’ll bother with the rest—though the galbi tang from Dae Jang Gum was very tasty too.

Alright, Southern California in December is in the books. Now to finish up with my Delhi and Goa reports. I’m also bursting with Seoul food pics and there’s a pretty good chance some of those will start showing up soon as well. I’m only here another 24 hours or so—if all goes well, I should be back in Southern Minnesota by Monday evening.


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