The Japanese Grocery - First Impressions

[Photo Gallery]

By Chief Writer Sasaki

Just heart-breaking. After surviving off of 7/11 and street side Chinese I was thrilled to find a real super market. At last I could splurge by all the things I never eat:

  1. Doritos (cool ranch, or munchies, its all good)
  2. Oreos
  3. Cake
  4. Ice cream

Machidooshi! (I long for!)

The first blow. Where's the bakery? Of course they have a bakery, right? No, they don't have a bakery per se. Well what DO they have? A shelf amongst loaves of bread:

Thousands of blistering barnacles! No croissants, cup cakes, cakes... Correction, they do have a form of cake, it tastes like nothingness. It must be sugarless or some kind of soy product. The Japanese word for fake is 'nise'

Fine, no cake. Well, surely they have freshly baked cookies? M&M, Chocolate chip, macadamia, all very standard. Well No, they don't. Bloody hell, not even freshly baked cookies.

Well what do they have, aside from the fake cake?

Let's itemize:

1. Buns with filling:
bean paste
maple icing
chestnut cream

2. Sealed wonder bread with filling:
butter cream

NOTE: stay away from the sealed wonder bread pockets, you WILL throw up.

3. Occasionally mediocre sugar and chocolate donates with a glaze

4. Muffins

God help my sweet tooth as well as my sanity.

The frozen dessert section however is at least agreeable. There are various normal flavoured ice creams.

And how about the snack department? Chips and crackers.

Not only are snacks sparse, but they come in the most absurd flavours! Popular chip flavours include:

    1. Butter
    2. Consume (beef stock)
    3. Taco
    4. Seaweed (I think we all saw that one coming)

However, Pringles are readily available , which is too bad because I don't like Pringles at all.

The flavours aren’t all absurd and vomit inducing, there are some which are really quite delicious for which you cannot find in the US. For example mouth-watering “Chicken Curry”

Here are some of the key differences between a Japanese supermarket and an American. Let's compare and contrast:

Frozen dessert section:

USA - 1 full aisle
Japan - 1/4 aisle

Chips Section

USA - 1 full aisle
Japan - 1/4 - 1/5 aisle

Dessert Bakery

USA - entire bakery (probably equals 1/2 aisle)
Japan - 1/10 aisle

USA - 1 full aisle
Japan - 1/10 aisle

Now let's be fair and give Japan a chance to shine:

USA - 1/10 aisle
Japan - Full aisle

USA - 5% fish 95 other meat
Japan - 90% fish 10% other meat

Soy Sauce
USA - One shelf on a rack
Japan - 1/4 aisle

USA - 1 shelf, at the bottom
Japan - 1/2 aisle


Oddly the Produce sections are equally balanced in the US and Japan. However the produce is vastly different.

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