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Here is the issue with shopping for breakfast at H Mart: Asian breakfasts are inherently different from American breakfasts. Whenever I would visit Korea as a kid over the summers, I was always shocked out of my jet lag fugue state on the first few days, jolted awake by my grandmother at 9 a.m. to a full spread of meat, fish soup, rice, and an array of banchan. This was especially difficult because, for the other nine months of my year, I would usually just tuck into a bowl of cereal and milk before dashing off to school.
Now, breakfast is the highlight of my day, especially bolstered by the endless array of options at my local H Mart. No longer do cereal boxes litter the top of my fridge; instead, I am awash in comforting soups, nutritious congees, and eggs galore! Breakfast is an issue no more. Read on for all the ways you, too, can make it a joy.
1. Fingerling Sweet Potato $2.49 per pound
This is literally what my Korean parents eat for breakfast! In Korean they’re called “one bite goguma,” because they’re perfectly sized for a single serving. My mom steams a bunch for the family, and she’ll pair it with cream cheese (almost like a sweet breakfast loaded baked potato!). I take the convenience one step further by just poking a few holes with a fork, wrapping in a wet paper towel, and nuking it in the microwave for a quick-yet-filling morning snack.
2. Kikkoman Instant Shiro Miso Soup, $3.99 for 1.05 ounces
3. Ajishima Noritamago Furikake Rice Seasoning, $3.99 for 1.7 ounces
I’ve been a lifelong fan of this furikake rice seasoning — my mom reached for it regularly for after-school snacks when I was a kid. Now, one of my go-to breakfasts is to microwave some leftover rice; drizzle a bit of soy sauce, sesame oil, and a ton of this furikake over top; and garnish with a fried egg.
4. DW Yangban Rice Porridge with Tuna, $2.99 for 10.05 ounces
To be honest, I’ve never been a sweet oatmeal kind of person. I’ll choose a savory rice porridge any day, so I’m glad I live in a world now where I can stock up on these single-serving instant rice porridges.
5. Windy Ridge Farms Fresh Quail Eggs, $4.49 for 5.5 ounces
Eggs, but make them even more baby! Quail eggs are used often in Asian cuisines, but I also like to cook them into adorable teeny-weeny fried eggs. The possibilities are endless: a fried quail egg garnish atop a perfectly fried egg? What about a whole plateful of fried quail eggs, like the viral mini-pancake cereal? There’s a TikTok video in here somewhere.
6. Gourmet Farm Preserved Duck Eggs, $3.49 for 9.6 ounces
Also known as century eggs (not actually a century-old), these preserved eggs undergo a chemical cooking process that transforms the egg into an unctuous, deeply savory, jelly-like ovoid. Eat them by themselves or on top of congee or silken tofu.
7. Smoked Whitefish, $14.47 for 1.61 pounds
One of the more surprising finds at the new H Mart near me in Long Island City is that I can now source an entire smoked whitefish for less than the cost of a pound at my local appetizing place. I can’t wait to throw a bagel and whitefish breakfast party for my neighbors centered around this goodie.
8. McNulty Brazilian Santa Rosa Hand Drip Coffee, $5.99 for 56 grams
I’ve recently discovered these incredibly handy single-pour coffee packets. They fold out and balance over your coffee mug to create the perfect tiny coffee filter; just pour over hot water. I’m planning to pack a box of these for my next travels — this will be way better than the stale hotel coffee!
9. Prime Fold Steam Bun with Roast Pork, $9.99 for 20 ounces
Dare I say, there is no better breakfast sandwich than the roast pork bun (it IS a sandwich, okay!). If I can’t make it to Chinatown (or to my local Asian coffee shop that stocks delicious pork buns), then I’m going to have these guys on hand for a quick microwave, ready-to-chow breakfast.
10. Shikoku Shikishima Choujuku Shokupan, $7.49 for 6 slices
I would argue that shokupan, or Japanese milk bread, is the ult-king of white bread. It’s soft, airy, creamy, and sweet. Toast it up and eat it without even a lick of butter and it’ll still be better than your basic supermarket brand.
11. WJ Nature Mandarine Orange Juice, $5.99 for 1.5 liters
I fell in love with the Jeju orange after my recent trip to the “Hawaii of Korea,” where this citrus is plentiful and deliciously juicy. This mandarin orange drink distinguishes itself from your basic orange juice because it tastes more like the natural oils of the orange, giving more brightness and depth of flavor.
12. Binggrae Coffee Milk, $5.99 for 6 cartons
How could I leave the iconic coffee milk off the breakfast list? This coffee-flavored delight has been on the shelves of Korean convenience stores for decades (they used to come in plastic bags that you’d snip the corner off of to slip in a straw). Sipping this drink always makes me smile, and what better way is there to start the day?
13. Sahmyook Soymilk Mix Grain Powder, $9.99 for 15 single-serve packs
For years, my mom made my dad this grey-brown shake, also known as misugaru, to take on his commute to work. I feel like it was a kind of predecessor to the protein shake: This multi-grain powder has been consumed in Korea for thousands of years. Despite its color, it’s super delicious, with a malty and nutty flavor reminiscent of a good cereal — especially when it comes premixed into soymilk like in these single-serving packs.
14. HT Cheese Maru Ice Sandwich, $7.99 for 6 ounces
Can you believe that I’m including an ice cream on this breakfast list? Well, when it’s a frozen cheese ice cream sandwich, how could I not? This, uh, breakfast-dessert features a cheese cream cheese filling in between two slices of bread. It has a sweet, cheesecake-like flavor that’s super soft and pillowy. Check it out and let me know which side of the equation you think this falls under!
Did your favorite H Mart breakfast staples make the list? Tell us about them in the comments.