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  • Assi International Food Plaza

    Post #1 - April 5th, 2007, 9:58 pm
    Post #1 - April 5th, 2007, 9:58 pm Post #1 - April 5th, 2007, 9:58 pm
    I finally found out a bit more of what's going on at Milwaukee just north of Dempster. It's Assi International Food Plaza, and they're setting themselves up as something similar to H-Mart: Korean owned, small shops, food court, and also a medical plaza and offices on a nearby corner.

    The whole thing's supposed to open September 2007.

    Searching for Assi Plaza online yields a dead link: http://www.rheebros.com, but they're in several other states.

    Assi Plaza Chicago Inc
    8901 North Milwaukee Avenue
    Niles, IL 60714-1888
    (847) 470-9450
    www.lotteplaza.com
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #2 - April 6th, 2007, 9:50 pm
    Post #2 - April 6th, 2007, 9:50 pm Post #2 - April 6th, 2007, 9:50 pm
    Niles is becoming "little Korea".
    The clown is down!
  • Post #3 - April 7th, 2007, 7:23 am
    Post #3 - April 7th, 2007, 7:23 am Post #3 - April 7th, 2007, 7:23 am
    Anybody know of any non-asian versions of this kind of megamart, or is this strictly a Korean/Japanese/American kind of thing?
  • Post #4 - April 7th, 2007, 8:20 am
    Post #4 - April 7th, 2007, 8:20 am Post #4 - April 7th, 2007, 8:20 am
    Mhays wrote:Anybody know of any non-asian versions of this kind of megamart, or is this strictly a Korean/Japanese/American kind of thing?


    This Wikipedia page on "hypermarkets" may be a list of the kinds of places you have in mind, with global reach -- although it doesn't mention H-Mart. It also doesn't mention the couple of Mexican analogues I know of -- "Mega", which I visited in Playa Del Carmen, or Soriana, which I just stumbed into while googling but which looks pretty big.

    So maybe the question is "are any of those stores opening American outposts?" And that, I don't know anything about.

    Curiously, it seems that this "genre" traces back to a french chain called Carrefour. I would have thought this kind of thing was anathema to French culture, but I guess that just goes to show something about stereotypes.
    Joe G.

    "Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
  • Post #5 - April 7th, 2007, 9:04 am
    Post #5 - April 7th, 2007, 9:04 am Post #5 - April 7th, 2007, 9:04 am
    Ah, Carrefour. They actually opened an outpost outside Philadelphia in the late 80s. It was beautiful: 49-cent baguettes (probably a loss leader), good pastries, nice produce, etc. Closed a couple of years later and is now a thriving Wal-Mart. Chacun à son goût. :roll:
  • Post #6 - April 7th, 2007, 9:06 am
    Post #6 - April 7th, 2007, 9:06 am Post #6 - April 7th, 2007, 9:06 am
    That would be so cool - I love the asian hypermarkets, it's an amazing thing to have the tourist experience (in a positive way) right near where you live - it's not so easy in the neighborhoods, you have to dig for it.

    The article says that Carrefour owns part of Costco; I wonder if that could draw them here - they're in Portugal and Maylasia as well. Looks like Eastern Europe has several chains that would find a happy home in the Chicagoland area...
  • Post #7 - April 7th, 2007, 9:33 am
    Post #7 - April 7th, 2007, 9:33 am Post #7 - April 7th, 2007, 9:33 am
    Mhays wrote:The article says that Carrefour owns part of Costco; I wonder if that could draw them here - they're in Portugal and Maylasia as well. Looks like Eastern Europe has several chains that would find a happy home in the Chicagoland area...


    Well, I was wondering about that -- what is it about the H-Mart experience that makes it worth dropping it down, kind of wholesale -- it's not an americanized experience.

    I would think at least one of those Mexican places could make a go in the States, but then, from my limited experience, they are less different from American stores than H-Mart is. Maybe that dilutes it too much for them to compete with Wal-mart, etc. Does Wal-mart stock "ethnic" products in communities where there might be a demand? Or do they just have the same stuff in every store?
    Joe G.

    "Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
  • Post #8 - April 7th, 2007, 12:26 pm
    Post #8 - April 7th, 2007, 12:26 pm Post #8 - April 7th, 2007, 12:26 pm
    I would think that to be successful, you'd have to have a sufficient population from the store's homeland - but Chicago has so many large ethnic groups that one from almost anywhere would be at home here.

    I think shopping in the little Mexican groceries in Rogers Park is extremely different from a SuperTarget - but, of course, I have no idea how the Mexican grocer translates into hypermarket. The Wal-Mart outside of Bloomfield, IL where I did summer stock one year, had a surprising number of ethnic foods (considering the only 2 ethnic families in the area ran the local Mexican restaurant and the Chinese restaraunt) - but it was all from large factory suppliers.
  • Post #9 - April 7th, 2007, 1:16 pm
    Post #9 - April 7th, 2007, 1:16 pm Post #9 - April 7th, 2007, 1:16 pm
    germuska wrote:Does Wal-mart stock "ethnic" products in communities where there might be a demand? Or do they just have the same stuff in every store?


    I'm normally more of a Target girl than a Wal-Mart girl, but I spent an evening in Lafayette, Louisiana, one night, and chose wandering thru their huge Wal-Mart everything-mega-store as the night's entertainment. [I'm pretty sure that it was a Monday and most of the dining/music scene was quiet for the night.] The store had quite a few items that I've never seen in the Wal-Mart in Niles or Bloomingdale. The food section had several brands of pre-made roux [I didn't know that there was such a thing] and a massive selection of hot sauces, among other items clearly geared for the Cajun cooking market. The freezer case held 5 lb. frozen bags of crawfish; if I remember correctly they were about $12 a bag. I pondered and schemed and thought, but I couldn't come up with a good way to get a few of these bags on the flight from New Orleans to Chicago with me.

    The most thought-provoking thing I saw, though, was in the sporting goods aisle. Deer season was apparently coming up soon, and there was a large amount of hunting paraphenalia on a big display aisle. Camo clothing, bows, arrows, corn, portable collapsing chairs . . . and female-deer-in-heat urine, to lure that big horny buck in the hunter's direction. Isn't that CHEATING :shock: ?!? I felt so sad for a buck who thought he was on the trail of getting lucky and instead got so unlucky as to stumble into a hunter and his/her weapon. And then started wondering what a business that sells deer urine has to do to collect their product. Do they have to give hormones to their does to keep them in heat all the time? Was it synthetic [altho I don't remember seeing any indication of that on the label]? And then, because we're capitalists here in America, I noticed that there were TWO competing brands of female-deer-in-heat urine. Was one the product of a cocky, upstart competitor? "I'm CONFIDENT that I can produce a better female-deer-in-heat urine product than the other guy, and cheaper, too! Hey, maybe I can even land a contract with Wal-Mart!"

    So, yeah, Wal-Mart product can vary by location.

    Giovanna
    =o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=o=

    "Enjoy every sandwich."

    -Warren Zevon
  • Post #10 - April 8th, 2007, 5:00 pm
    Post #10 - April 8th, 2007, 5:00 pm Post #10 - April 8th, 2007, 5:00 pm
    The Super Wal-Mart in Lake Geneva is probably the closest to Chicago. The grocery has alot of ethnic and unseen "by me" items. Open 24 hrs, this store is immaculate.
  • Post #11 - April 8th, 2007, 5:43 pm
    Post #11 - April 8th, 2007, 5:43 pm Post #11 - April 8th, 2007, 5:43 pm
    The Super Wal-Mart in Lake Geneva is probably the closest to Chicago


    I think there are a few closer---Walmart.com shows Wal-Mart SuperCenters in Country Club Hills, Plainfield, a few Indiana locations and to the north, Woodstock, Antioch, Waukegan, etc show as closer than Lake Geneva. They're really starting to expand in the suburban area, I think.

    I've been in a few WM SuperCenters and just haven't found them to be very, uh,varied; especially in terms of ethnic or hard to get foodstuffs. Now, if we're talking about somewhere like Woodman's...
  • Post #12 - April 8th, 2007, 6:27 pm
    Post #12 - April 8th, 2007, 6:27 pm Post #12 - April 8th, 2007, 6:27 pm
    I was in the Wal-Mart supercenter in Las Vegas... and I thought I was going to die. Take the general loudness and garishness of Vegas and mix it with the same qualities of a Wal-Mart, and you reach a level of evil that is toxic. No, no slot machines.

    Didn't see anything truly unique there... which is probably perfectly in the character of Vegas. A lot of hispanic products, a lot of touristy stuff.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #13 - April 8th, 2007, 7:58 pm
    Post #13 - April 8th, 2007, 7:58 pm Post #13 - April 8th, 2007, 7:58 pm
    Giovanna wrote:
    germuska wrote:Does Wal-mart stock "ethnic" products in communities where there might be a demand? Or do they just have the same stuff in every store?


    I'm normally more of a Target girl than a Wal-Mart girl, but I spent an evening in Lafayette, Louisiana, one night, and chose wandering thru their huge Wal-Mart everything-mega-store as the night's entertainment.
    So, yeah, Wal-Mart product can vary by location.

    Giovanna


    I have been in that store and many of the SW Louisiana WalMart Supercenters. In MOST markets, they DO carry local favorites, In SW Louisiana and in the adjoining areas of Texas, they cary a lot of the local groceries. I have filled up a box or two on several occasions and sent them home.

    One of the better produces IMHO is Community Coffee, a product produced in Baton Rouge and one of the better coffees that you'll find in a supermarket.

    BTW, they carry BOTH a locally sourced crawfish and one imported from China. Originally, they carried only the latter but the locals complained.
  • Post #14 - April 8th, 2007, 8:00 pm
    Post #14 - April 8th, 2007, 8:00 pm Post #14 - April 8th, 2007, 8:00 pm
    grant wrote:The Super Wal-Mart in Lake Geneva is probably the closest to Chicago. The grocery has alot of ethnic and unseen "by me" items. Open 24 hrs, this store is immaculate.


    They recently opened one in Woodstock and one in Crystal Lake is under construction.
  • Post #15 - May 9th, 2007, 11:46 pm
    Post #15 - May 9th, 2007, 11:46 pm Post #15 - May 9th, 2007, 11:46 pm
    If you can be patient, a Wal-Mart Supercenter is scheduled to open in fall of 2007 in McCook on the old Reynolds Aluminum plant site at 47th & 1st Ave, just off the 1st Ave exit of the Stevenson (I-55)

    Area ethnic groups are mostly Latino and East-European....I don't know what that may portend. (I once found a Czech-Mex Bakery in Corpus Christi)
    And consider the Natural Buddhist Meditation Temple of Greater Chicago in nearby Burbank.
    .....so Asian/Vegetarian? Who knows.





    http://edgemarkllc.com/flyers2005/McCook.pdf
  • Post #16 - March 25th, 2008, 10:59 am
    Post #16 - March 25th, 2008, 10:59 am Post #16 - March 25th, 2008, 10:59 am
    Well I was trying to get home from Golf Mill and I was stuck in Assi traffic. I am assuming today is the grand opening since they had cops directing traffic and the lot is packed.
    The clown is down!
  • Post #17 - March 25th, 2008, 5:11 pm
    Post #17 - March 25th, 2008, 5:11 pm Post #17 - March 25th, 2008, 5:11 pm
    Anybody know of any non-asian versions of this kind of megamart, or is this strictly a Korean/Japanese/American kind of thing?


    Any Garden Fresh that has taken over a former Cubs store is generally almost as abundantly provisioned as H-Mart, but is more ethnically diverse, though with a definite lean toward Eastern Europe, at least in the deli and pastry section. But there are whole aisles of Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Polish, Arabic, and more. The produce is not as over the top as H-Mart, but is still impressive -- and one can often find mesculun mix for $2.50/lb., and they carry plenty of the exotic stuff. Plus they have one of those "slightly older" veggie racks, where you can pick up several pounds of something interesting for $0.99.

    So between H-Mart and Garden Fresh, I can get most of my ethnic ingredients, with only occasional forays to specialty spots for Chinese or Indian.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #18 - March 25th, 2008, 10:04 pm
    Post #18 - March 25th, 2008, 10:04 pm Post #18 - March 25th, 2008, 10:04 pm
    JeanneBean wrote:Well I was trying to get home from Golf Mill and I was stuck in Assi traffic. I am assuming today is the grand opening since they had cops directing traffic and the lot is packed.


    Anyone know if ASSI has a website like H-mart's? I'd love to see an online ad.
  • Post #19 - March 26th, 2008, 10:51 am
    Post #19 - March 26th, 2008, 10:51 am Post #19 - March 26th, 2008, 10:51 am
    Jay K wrote:
    JeanneBean wrote:Well I was trying to get home from Golf Mill and I was stuck in Assi traffic. I am assuming today is the grand opening since they had cops directing traffic and the lot is packed.


    Anyone know if ASSI has a website like H-mart's? I'd love to see an online ad.


    http://www.lotteplaza.com/

    -ramon
  • Post #20 - March 26th, 2008, 7:31 pm
    Post #20 - March 26th, 2008, 7:31 pm Post #20 - March 26th, 2008, 7:31 pm
    I decided to hit Assi Plaza tonight, since nobody else is home. I figured if their food court isn't interesting, there's plenty of other chow in the neighborhood.

    How does it stack up to H-Mart? Pretty well, except for atmosphere. I'd say it's about 2/3 of an H-Mart overall, and that applies pretty well to each department (meat may be pretty close). I didn't buy much, since I wasn't planning anything in particular, and had shopped recently, but I took some mental notes for future visits. Galangal? Check. Live Seafood? Yup -- didn't see fish, but lobster and a couple kinds of crab including dungeness. Panchan counter? Check -- self serve no less. That was kind of a theme, I noticed: self-serve bins of marinated meats, a large number of self-serve seafood items (about six different sizes of shrimp, including large head-ons for $2.99).

    There seems to be a bit more coverage of southeast asia: more varieties of fish sauce, rice paper wraps, etc. I found wide, flat rice noodles, which I haven't seen since Di-Ho market in Morton Grove changed names (here comes a batch of pad si-ew tomorrow night).

    Prices varied: the produce seemed cheap (3 huge oranges for $0.99 for instance), meat perhaps a little more than H-Mart. I didn't see prime shabu-shabu, but there was "blue ribbon quality" items at up to $17/lb, down to $2.99 "sliced beef" for bul go gi etc.

    There's a sushi counter in the main store, kind of sparse at 6PM, but there are single nigiri for $.79, california rolls for $2.99, and a few other items. I grabbed a CA roll to eat later. There's also a dumpling counter, but it didn't look like they do carry out, and there's only two seats, and a line.

    The food court has one Chinese stall that didn't look terribly appetizing, one Japanese place that did (more on that in a moment), and three Korean stalls with different items at each: one focused on soups, but otherwise it's hard to say what the dividing line was. I did notice very different transliterations than I'm used to (twae ji pol go gi instead of dowae ji gi, pi bim bap instead of bi bim bop). Lots of choices, but I didn't feel like experimenting so I went for a simple donkatsu at the Japanese stand (there's that spelling difference again). For $6.99, it's served with miso soup, rice, shredded cabbage topped with a seasoned mayo (DIY slaw, I guess), two sauce (tonkatsu and something a little mustardy), pickled ginger and a small amount of kimchi.

    I mentioned atmosphere earlier: H-Mart goes to a lot of effort to look high end, even with the warehouse-size packaging in a lot of aisles. The lighting is indirect or straight-down, there's a lot of wood trim. Assi doesn't achieve that, except in the produce area. Otherwise, it looks like an older Jewel: Dentist-office bright, slightly narrower aisles, it just feels less refined.

    It's about half the distance from my house to H-Mart, and probably adequate for most Asian ingredient hunts, so I'll probably be back on a regular basis. I like H-Mart's meat better, and they do have more produce, especially herbs, so I'll probably occasionally go there too.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #21 - March 26th, 2008, 8:27 pm
    Post #21 - March 26th, 2008, 8:27 pm Post #21 - March 26th, 2008, 8:27 pm
    Joel, we must have walked past each other in the aisles tonight. I heartily agree with your description of Assi. As soon as my wife and I walked into the store we each commented on the "old school" lighting/decor. I thought it may be possible that it's still a work in progress. It was obvious that the staff is suffering start-up pains as we watched three people trying to assemble a dumpling...
    At this point, even though we're within walking distance of ASSI, I think H-Mart will remain our go to choice for Asian products
  • Post #22 - March 26th, 2008, 10:04 pm
    Post #22 - March 26th, 2008, 10:04 pm Post #22 - March 26th, 2008, 10:04 pm
    Thanks for the all the visit info... Sounds like another Grand Mart letdown - although I'm sure it's a little more grand than Grand Mart.

    It's an added trek for us, considering we're coming from Hyde Park to go to Super H at least twice a month, although it would still be "along the way" when heading to Himalayan.

    We'll prob take a look just to see if there are specials or other additionals - might be worth adding to our Niles run since they seem to carry other non-Korean goods like ho-fun (wide flat rice noodles).

    As an aside, the tonkatsu accompaniments sound pretty authentic down to the spicy mustard - it might just have to do since Takkatsu may be closed down (word on the street at Sumutoko, although the official signs says it's closed for remodeling).
    Last edited by Jay K on April 20th, 2008, 10:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #23 - March 26th, 2008, 11:51 pm
    Post #23 - March 26th, 2008, 11:51 pm Post #23 - March 26th, 2008, 11:51 pm
    Jay K wrote:As an aside, the tonkatsu accompaniments sound pretty authentic down to the spicy mustard

    No, not spicy mustard, more of a thin beige sauce like a soy/dijon sort of thing.

    I wouldn't call this a letdown, 2/3 of an H-Mart is still about four times as useful as the other Korean marts in the same neighborhood. I've got no reason at all to go to Asia Super or the other one in the same plaza as WalMart and the eastern European produce mart.

    Oh, and LuvstoEat, if we were there at the same time, you'd have spotted me: 6'7", beard, scraping small asian children off the soles of my shoes (kidding).
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #24 - March 27th, 2008, 9:26 am
    Post #24 - March 27th, 2008, 9:26 am Post #24 - March 27th, 2008, 9:26 am
    Jay K wrote:Thanks for the all the visit info... Sounds like another Grand Mart letdown - although I'm sure it's a little more grand than Grand Mart.


    Speaking of Grand Mart, did that place reopen yet? I heard it was supposed to reopen as all-inclusive European, still with a lot of Asian, rather than just Asian/Mexican.
    I want to have a good body, but not as much as I want dessert. ~ Jason Love

    There is no pie in Nighthawks, which is why it's such a desolate image. ~ Happy Stomach

    I write fiction. You can find me—and some stories—on Facebook, Twitter and my website.
  • Post #25 - March 27th, 2008, 7:50 pm
    Post #25 - March 27th, 2008, 7:50 pm Post #25 - March 27th, 2008, 7:50 pm
    Joel, I saw quite a few strange things while we walked around the store (including a fish trying to make a break for it by jumping out of one of the tanks..), but no small children being removed from a large dude's shoes. I actually was so focused on getting safely through the crowds, I'm not sure I would have noticed you even if I had suffered the same (fictitious) fate as the kids...
  • Post #26 - March 28th, 2008, 3:42 pm
    Post #26 - March 28th, 2008, 3:42 pm Post #26 - March 28th, 2008, 3:42 pm
    JoelF wrote:I've got no reason at all to go to Asia Super or the other one in the same plaza as WalMart and the eastern European produce mart.

    I haven't yet visited this new store, but I find that the smaller Asia Super Mart and Hana Super still have attractions, including careful shelf labeling in English, cashiers who have time to offer cooking advice and Hana's self-serve banchan bar and hot food for carryout.

    By "the other one in the same plaza as WalMart," do you mean Grand Mart or something else?

    And have you tried Seoul Market in Buffalo Grove?

    Asia Super Mart
    9800 N. Milwaukee Ave., Des Plaines
    (847) 297-4949

    Hana Super
    Golf-Milwaukee Plaza, 8526-J W. Golf Road, Niles
    (847) 470-4415

    Seoul Market
    1204 W. Dundee Road, Buffalo Grove
    (847) 870-8830
  • Post #27 - March 28th, 2008, 6:29 pm
    Post #27 - March 28th, 2008, 6:29 pm Post #27 - March 28th, 2008, 6:29 pm
    LAZ wrote:By "the other one in the same plaza as WalMart," do you mean Grand Mart or something else?

    No, I think I meant Hana Super (there is a Walmart there, remember)

    I've never been to Seoul Market -- is that the one at Arlington Heights Rd? Come to think of it, I may have walked in there once, years ago. Definitely not as convenient as the other three, I'm in the same longitude as you are, IIRC (near River Road).
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #28 - March 28th, 2008, 8:09 pm
    Post #28 - March 28th, 2008, 8:09 pm Post #28 - March 28th, 2008, 8:09 pm
    JoelF wrote:I've never been to Seoul Market -- is that the one at Arlington Heights Rd? Come to think of it, I may have walked in there once, years ago. Definitely not as convenient as the other three, I'm in the same longitude as you are, IIRC (near River Road).

    I'm a bit northwest of you. Seoul Market at Dundee and Arlington Heights roads is actually closer to us by several miles, but we usually do wind up heading down Milwaukee Avenue because there's so much else in the Niles area.
  • Post #29 - April 4th, 2008, 2:29 pm
    Post #29 - April 4th, 2008, 2:29 pm Post #29 - April 4th, 2008, 2:29 pm
    So, Super H is trying to completely destroy Assi Plaza on their debut (like they did Grand Mart). For at least the past week and this coming week, they've been running sales similar to their grand opening.

    www.hmart.com (Click on the IL, Niles location for online ads)
  • Post #30 - April 6th, 2008, 9:43 pm
    Post #30 - April 6th, 2008, 9:43 pm Post #30 - April 6th, 2008, 9:43 pm
    JoelF wrote:I found wide, flat rice noodles, which I haven't seen since Di-Ho market in Morton Grove changed names (here comes a batch of pad si-ew tomorrow night).


    I made a trek to Assi tonight and thought it was pretty up to par with H-Mart. Produce section was not as big but still had everything you can think of and some other exotic stuff. I bought some of the marinated chicken and some marinated spare ribs. Food wise its not as big as H-Mart but I was still impressed.

    I took the ride because I had read on here that they carry fresh flat rice noodles for chow fun and it took me 35 minutes to locate them but they do have them. Due to the language barrier I was lead to different places and told by a few others they didnt carry them but after I remembered seeing some fresh noodles in the produce section, I found them sitting there with the tofu. They are not with the other fresh noodles section located near the meats. Im excited for my first homemade batch of beef chow fun tomorrow night, well see how that goes.

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