From the sushi to the many varieties of sweet-bean pies, from the aisles of Jamaican delicacies to the full row of what can only be described as squid jerky, HanAhReum is like no other store we’ve seen in this part of the country. Always packed like a Hong Kong market, smelling of fresh fish and filled with funky music, the store can be overwhelming to the newcomer. But we’re usually home in on our favorite part of the store, where they make rice cakes. The rice cake machine is an iron monster chugging near the back of the store like some prehistoric steam engine. POP! Fwisssss . . . POP! The rice cakes burst into being, a metal arm brushing them to the vast bin on the floor. One day when we visited, the machine’s keeper and rice cake quality-control czar could not be satisfied with the cakes he was producing. Again and again he piled slightly deformed cakes into a sample bin, from which giggling children and patient adults snatched the confections. Solemnly, the man adjusted the machine’s dials as it ran on Fwissss . . . POP! producing rice cakes with tiny Mickey Mouse ears and rice cakes that ever so slightly resembled Snoopy. “Sorry,” he apologized. “Rice is wet.”
Sorry for giving out free rice cakes? Apology accepted.