The Washington Post featured Grand Mart in last week's food section. This is a new Korean super-store, with locations in Centreville and Germantown. We brave the crowds at Han au Rheum and Lotte in Virginia on occasion and still morn the loss of Lucky World with its wonderful salad bar, so we were eager to check out the newest entry.
We visited the Centreville location and look forward to going again after they've finished setting everything up. The produce section was huge, with English labels on nearly everything, and prices $1-2 a pound less than Giant/Safeway. Aisles were wide enough apart that they have a chance of avoiding the produce gridlock that makes Han au Rheum's otherwise wonderful section such a nightmare. Produce quality varied from fantastic to medium. They had some of the hard to find items such as fresh water chestnuts and snow pea greens. As mentioned in the Post, they also have lots of items catering to the Hispanic market. The chestnuts were the sweetest we've had in recent years, but were a bit harder to peel than most after being roasted.
The fish section was small but everything looked good and it was without any strong odors, always a good sign.
The meat selection was considerable, with, again, $1-2 or more less per pound than you'd pay in a mega chain. My husband mentioned seeing some serious bargains in chicken parts. We saw some fabulous shortribs. If you're a fan of skirt steak, they had them at $3.99 a pound, and we yielded to temptation.
A pickle bar setup was featured near the transition between the meat and seafood sections, but it was not stocked yet. They did have fresh kim chi, which was pretty tasty.
The dry goods area was extensive with both Asian and Hispanic items. I would say that Lotte has the edge if you are looking for the high-end Japanese brands.
There is a housewares section, but our daughter was getting pretty tired by that time, so we skipped it.
That brought us to one of the stand-outs, the checkout line. As in--what line? The parking lot was full and there were plenty of customers, but there were many checkout lines and no line had more than 2 customers.
The plaza near Grand Mart has Hau Hau, a mediocre Chinese buffet. The selection is excellent (crab, lobster, and oyster dishes included), but the execution is disappointing for some items. And yes, that was even making allowances for it being a buffet. We saw, but did not try, a Japanese place that was advertising a sushi buffet slightly hidden around the back of the plaza across from the parking lot.
Overall, they get top marks for manouverability and pleasantness of overall shopping experience, the produce is probably just a smidgen less wonderful than Han au Rheum, and we look forward to making a Saturday afternoon lunch and shop venture of it again.
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