Founded in 1982 as the original H Mart, New York City’s premiere o.g. Korean grocery is now independently owned and no longer part of the national supermarket chain that sprang from this humble Woodside corner. Han Ah Reum’s small size belies its exhaustive selection, which includes everything you need to cook (or pretend you cooked) a Korean feast — homemade stews for reheating, barbecue-ready meats in the fridge, and tabletop grills and stone dolsot bowls for the truly committed. To the left of the entrance is the store’s crowning glory: the tofu machine, which churns out fresh tofu daily in every form, from brick to curd to whey. No paltry white cubes in tubs of bodega water here — at Han Ah Reum, the fresh tofu comes in huge loaves in individual containers and is sometimes still hot to the touch. (If you can’t wait till you get home to sample it, a tangy, scallion-infused soy sauce is sold alongside.) You can also choose from a great selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, condiments, noodles, and snacks, plus a bewildering array of prepared banchan — pickled vegetables, spicy seafood, and savory pancakes. By the register, stacks of colorful rice cakes, kimbap, steamed buns, sweet potatoes, and steamed corn beg for an impulse buy. (To eat on the train ride home, you rationalize.) The selection constantly changes, as the crew of middle-aged ajummas who cook at the back of the store bring out new dishes throughout the day. For the most affordable, non-gentrified Korean grocery near you, it’s the original Han Ah Reum. Nothing else will do.
5918 Woodside Avenue, Woodside, Queens