Japan food shopping for cooks

Apr 6th, 2019, 12:01 PM
  #1  
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Japan food shopping for cooks

I'll be in Japan, return after many years, for three weeks.

I am an avid home cook.

Interested in particular, interesting food-related or kitchen items to buy, to try on site or to bring home.

Any great snacks, kitchen items (do not cook Japanese food at home), anything related to food? I can bring home about anything but meats. (Please no dissertations on customs regulations..I am well aware)

I do not want to eat in my hotel room, but snacks are ok. More keen on items to cart home, and things to sample just for interest. I eat about anything. Really just want to explore new tastes.

I've got a number of restaurants booked, but if people want to offer tips on favorite places, that's great: I need soba and tonkatsu recommendations, especially. Ramen, to be sure.
Hotel is near Tokyo Station.

Is Harajuku still worth visiting on Sundays late afternoon? What do we have there? Akin to St Marks Place in NYC in the "old days??' Or what?????? It was much fun years ago..but now?? Very interested in gawking at cos play types!!

Also, any novels about Japan? Just read THE COMMONER and recommend highly. Read the book about the disappearance of Lucie Blackman, too..what a sad tale that was...

Random tips welcome! Many thanks.

ekscrunchy is offline  
Apr 6th, 2019, 12:04 PM
  #2  
 
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Can't help you with your question, but I was wondering if you had scoped out any restaurants in Japan. We'll be there for the first time in the fall. I always loved your restaurant recs.
yestravel is offline  
Apr 6th, 2019, 02:20 PM
  #3  
tt7
 
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Originally Posted by ekscrunchy View Post
Interested in particular, interesting food-related or kitchen items to buy, to try on site or to bring home.
For all things kitchen-equipment related in Tokyo, try Kappabashi-dori. You’ll know you’re there when you see the giant chef’s head on the building on the corner. Nearest subway stop is Tawaramachi on the Ginza line.
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Apr 6th, 2019, 03:15 PM
  #4  
 
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"kitchen items to buy"

http://tomochanstore.blogspot.com/2012/03/vermicular-pan.html

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Happy Travels!
Guenmai is offline  
Apr 6th, 2019, 03:58 PM
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Kappabashi for sure for kitchen item overload lol.

At the south end of Tokyo Station there is the Kitte Building, a very modern structure. On the 5th floor is a branch of a Sapporo ramen shop, Baikohken. Very popular at lunch and reasonably priced. Another interesting place is Rengatei in the Ginza. Established in the late 1800's, it was one of the first western style restaurants to introduce pork katsu in Japan. Has a very retro feel and their regular pork or filet katsu is a classic dish. Of course ramen, soba and katsu are to be found everywhere in the city.
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Apr 6th, 2019, 04:54 PM
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As for Harajuku and Omotesando, given that Sunday is the day many Japanese have off the place is packed. The streets are jammed with every shop, restaurant and cafe filled. So it depends what you want to see and how badly. It's much less crowded (but still crowded as it's Tokyo after all) mid week.
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Apr 7th, 2019, 05:25 AM
  #7  
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For Harajuku I mainly wanted to see the young kids in their street fashions.
so weekends?

I've been to Kappabashi (once bought those plastic sushi models as a gift), but wondered about individual items..will read some more on that.

Yestravel: I will post my restaurant list. Unfortunately, sushi is not high on that list since partner does not eat raw fish. I will go alone for lunch one day. I've made three reservations already for Tokyo and about the same for Kyoto. You need to book far ahead for some of the better known spots. For one thing, they are well known, and many are very small. The hotel did the bookings for me. There are also some websites that will book for foreigners but you have to pay for those and I won't do that.

I wanted to try various categories of food, as in shabu-shabu; kaiseki; tonkatsu; Japanese steak; ramen; soba. So I focused on the various categories, as Japan is one country where there are many restaurants devoted to one dish, for example, fried pork cutlets. You know this already, I think. It's more difficult than other countries since most of the reviews from locals, and the local blogs, are unreadable to me due to language! And Tabelog.com is hard to slog through.

Anyway, I have these booked so far in Tokyo; some nights we will wing it with ramen and soba, I think. I am about to book the tonkatsu place, which is new and has gotten great reports. The name is katsukami, in Ginza. I love the admonition on the reservations that one must not wear perfume!

MORITAYA
KAWAMURA GINZA
SHIMA STEAK (lunch before baseball game)

Last edited by ekscrunchy; Apr 7th, 2019 at 05:32 AM.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Apr 7th, 2019, 05:36 AM
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Thanks, eks. When you say far in advance -- how far? 1 month, 2 months? We're not going until SEpt and I will ask the hotel to make the reservations for us. Just wanted to do reservations for a few nights in Tokyo and also Kyoto and then wing it. I hope you'll do a TR when you return or at least some highlights. Your reports and comments are so helpful to me on all the trips we can use them.
yestravel is offline  
Apr 7th, 2019, 07:42 AM
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Yes: I'm no expert, but I did book those places about 6 weeks in advance of my stay. I think the most difficult places to book are the high-end sushi restaurants since they are so small and such cult favorites. If you want to try any of those, I think you might want to begin reading soon and send the names to your hotel about two months out. Same goes for the hot spots like TOKYO DEN (I am not going there) and any other restaurants with 2 or three Michelin stars, especially the kaiseki places. Michelin seems to really drive the engine in Tokyo. I have no idea if any of the places I booked have stars or not, though. The prices at many restaurants, like the steak and sushi places, are really, really high,though, higher than NYC, I think, with lunch often being much less pricey than dinner. Even at places labeled moderate,meals seem to go up to US$100-plus a person. I don't mean anyone has to spend that, but it IS an expensive city for restaurants and hotels, although there are many cheap options as well, at least as far as the eating goes.
But I might not go back, so want to try the "best" if I can. It's just the way I travel. And the best does not necessarily mean the most expensive, although in Tokyo, It seems to mean that a lot!

I will certainly write about my eating experiences! Thank you for the compliments.

Last edited by ekscrunchy; Apr 7th, 2019 at 07:45 AM.
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Apr 7th, 2019, 10:28 AM
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As you asked for tonkatsu recos, Maisen is one of the best. Honten (main shop) is in Aoyma, between Omotesando and Takesitadori so if you are there Sunday to see the young crowd, this makes a great place for lunch/dinner. It's in an old bathhouse so ask to be seated in main room for full atmosphere. Also on Takesitadori is Daiso (100 yen store) - basement has food and you can pick up snack items and staples without breaking the bank.
Boveney is offline  
Apr 7th, 2019, 01:25 PM
  #11  
tt7
 
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Originally Posted by Boveney View Post
Also on Takesitadori is Daiso (100 yen store) - basement has food and you can pick up snack items and staples without breaking the bank.
....... as you can at any conbini in Japan.
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Apr 7th, 2019, 04:55 PM
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The Daisou stores are like conbini on steroids!

One thing I really like to get in Japan is shoyu (soy sauce) You can get some amazing stuff that puts what we get in the US to shame. There are specialty shops where you can taste before buying, but you can also find some in the food floors of the department stores. My favorite is a pink shoyu that seems to be somewhat seasonal.
I'm also a fan of anything with ponzu in it, and various other sauces that I use at home for stir fry and roasting, though not necessarily for Asia dishes. We always pick up a lot of candied citrus peels. The ones I like are in very, very thin slices, almost like zest rather that the thick ones available at home. I use them in cooking, and for snacks too. Also usually buy quite a bit of dried noodles, furikake (seaweed & spices to sprinkle on rice or to rub on fish), sesame oil, and dried nori (seaweed) to use for sushi. Also like the instant cup ramen in all the odd flavors to keep in my office for a quick hot snack.
If it sounds like we bring home mostly food, we do! We can get a lot of these items in Hawaii, but somehow the ones from Japan just taste better!. I always take an insulated bag, and load up on flan type items, Kanten, pickled veggies such as rakkyu,, radish and beets.
As far as kitchen equipment, knives and cast iron dishes are fun to buy if you are in need.

Last edited by lcuy; Apr 7th, 2019 at 05:30 PM.
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Apr 7th, 2019, 05:20 PM
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Lcuy those are super recommendations: Soy sauce, furikake, anything with yuzu, ponzu...did not think of those. Also maybe some mirin, which is so pricey in NY and called for in so many recipes. And any dried seaweed items...also pricey back home...


What is the deal with Kewpie mayo? It's a cult item in the US....is it any better than Hellman's??
I might stalk a Japanese food store back home before leaving to see what appeals.

Will bring bubble wrap for those bottles!

Please add more as any of you think of items....fun topic, for me at least!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Apr 7th, 2019, 05:36 PM
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It's just mayo, and Hellman's (or Best Foods in the west) is better in my mind. The kewpie and other Asian mayo's does come in big bags and is cheaper in Japan. Japanese people put it on EVERYTHING. I feel sorry for people who don't like it!

I'll be in Japan next week, eks, so I'll try to remember to post my shopping findst when I get home!
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Apr 7th, 2019, 06:23 PM
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Matsuya depato has a Shokunin shoyu section from different regions with a pretty extensive selection. As some Japanese visitors said to us once, Aloha shoyu is very bad shoyu lol..
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Apr 7th, 2019, 06:40 PM
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Ekscrunchy--Thanks for starting this thread. I will also be going to Kyoto sometime in fall and have been doing my own research on food items to buy---usually those are my only souvenirs.
During my last trip, I stocked up on amazing "Sembai" (I hope right spelling and word) rice cookies/cakes. They come in amazing flavors, colors and of course packed individually in a larger box, which also is so gorgeous. Bought them in the food level of a major dept. store. I just went crazy as I tasted so many unique items and now yearning for more!

Icuy--thanks for your lovely list. Now, I am making my list with your help. Just amazing stuff and the taste is so memorable. Miss all this stuff in US as I live in a smaller city and not much to buy here.
Hope this thread continues to inspire me.
Have a fabulous spring week ahead.
ileen is offline  
Apr 7th, 2019, 06:59 PM
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Eskrunchy, if you like japanese rice crackers (arare), there is a traditional shop from the 1800's located on Sanjo, just off the Kamo river in central Kyoto. It's name is Funahashi-ya and their products are baked fresh locally.

You can buy rice crackers at any conbini, supermarket or department store, but visiting Funahashi feels like stepping back in time.
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Apr 7th, 2019, 07:52 PM
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So grateful for all of your advice...I am getting fat just thinking about those rice crackers! Great idea to bring home!
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Apr 27th, 2019, 12:59 AM
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We had a great tempura experience at Tenmatsu in the Nihonbashi neighborhood not far from Tokyo Station. Everything was so light and there were hardly any oil marks on the parchment paper under each dish. It is listed in FOOD SAKE TOKYO. There is counter seating so you can watch the chef. It is small so make a reservation. We were the only non Japanese there.
We also had a wonderful morning with the author, Yukari Sakamoto.
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Apr 27th, 2019, 04:09 AM
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Also ate there on both trips to Tokyo, based on Yukari recommendation. Small place, not easy to find.
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