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Special Report: H Mart - American Dream, East Rutherford, NJ

H Mart
Opened: February 17, 2023
Previous Tenants: none
Location: 1 American Dream Way, East Rutherford, NJ (zone A floor 1)
Photographed: March 8, 2023
Welcome to American Dream! Anyone who's passed through East Rutherford on the Turnpike has seen American Dream, the massive shopping mall/amusement park/indoor water park/ski slope/I'm not even sure what else, that takes up 115 acres next to the MetLife Stadium. I haven't exactly had a compelling reason to visit, but the February 2023 opening of a smaller-format H Mart in the shopping mall portion did it for me. Would I ever go back? Well yeah probably, if only because I have a family member who was the main lawyer responsible for the financing of the construction, but even he doesn't really want to go.
If you are ever going to the H Mart, there's no signage to help you navigate the multiple parking lots and garages once you get into the property, so you're headed for zone A floor 1. No, that's not the ground floor, you'll have to go up one floor to get there.
And inside, American Dream really is just a massive shopping mall with some other odd entertainment features, like the Nickelodeon Universe and the DreamWorks water park. And an H Mart. But not a particularly good H Mart, though I believe they wanted a location here for tourists, not to mention that their headquarters are just over two miles away in Lyndhurst.
The store is soon to feature a food court (presumably being constructed behind this wall) that's as large as the supermarket itself. In the meantime, the supermarket is up and running, although it's very different from other H Marts as we'll see.
More than a supermarket, it feels like a Korean gift shop. There's larger nonfood selections (with housewares, toys, kitchen goods, and so on), and although there are perishables, they're not like what's available in other H Marts. Most of the produce is packaged, the meat department is largely frozen convenience products, but the seafood department is fully stocked. Let's head in and see for ourselves.
You enter at the corner of the store, as seen here from what's actually the exit. On the right side, you first walk through the sale items in crates there to get to the nonfoods/housewares section first, with produce behind that. Kimchi and other prepared foods are on the left side of the back wall, with meat and seafood on the left side wall. Beverages and checkouts are on the front wall, with very little actual grocery in the middle.
Before we actually get to the produce department, we have to walk through a few aisles of toys and other similar Korean nonfood items. This is a selection not typically found in H Marts, and I would say is more appealing to people who see these as novelty products.
Is anyone really coming to American Dream to do their food shopping? I just can't imagine that.
Beauty products and kitchenwares are up next, with grocery in the aisles opposite these shelves.
Notice that the shelving is all kept very low, making it feel more like a boutique store than a supermarket, and also limiting the selection a lot.
And then we move on to produce. If you look carefully, you'll see that nearly everything is packaged rather than sold loose as in other H Marts. This again suggests that people aren't here to do their weekly food shopping but instead to impulse-buy novelty items.
There's another H Mart, in Little Ferry about 3.5 miles north, that I consider to be much better. It's much larger and a really full supermarket with a fantastic food court. But I have to wonder who actually is shopping here? Who's buying these greens?
Kimchi and other packaged items up next, in the back left corner of the store. And the meat department is on the left side of the store...
It wouldn't surprise me if the meat and seafood prep were done in Little Ferry or another nearby store and trucked over. I didn't see much backroom space for that type of prep.
Plus, as I mentioned, most of the product sold here even in the perishables departments is frozen or convenience products.
And the grocery aisles are similar, focusing on snacks and ready-to-eat items, or things like instant noodles, which is a stark departure from H Mart's other stores. That said, I do think it's the right product mix for this location because it's what people here would be looking to buy. But are people visiting American Dream really in the market for groceries, even ready-to-eat ones?
The seafood counter is a little different, but even here, the majority of the counter is prepared seafood dishes rather than whole fish or fish fillets.
And at the end of the store we have beverages, snacks, and candy. I doubt anyone really is doing food shopping here, especially since the registers are lined up along a counter -- not really conducive to a large grocery order.
That said, I did get free parking, so I guess with short-term parking for things you could do like food shopping, you get free parking. Good luck finding the place you want to go once you park, though.
That's all for this H Mart, and someday we'll tour Little Ferry too! In the meantime, we have another special report today at the brand-new Flatbush Food Bazaar, and tomorrow, we'll be checking out updates at a few local stores. Stay tuned!


  1. I am not saying anything new, but this shopping mall should be called the American Nightmare. The mall has been plagued with problems since its inception, and (based on photos I have seen online) large portions of the mall are empty.

    What is a mystery is why this mall was developed in the first place. Even in the early stages of planning, it was clear that the heyday of the indoor shopping mall was in the past. New Jersey--like most other places in the country--was already over-malled. And I believe that apart from the American Dream, the youngest major shopping mall in New Jersey is the Freehold Raceway Mall, which opened way back in 1990.

    --A&P Fan


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