As a foreigner living in Ishikawa, no matter how much you love Japanese food, there comes a point when you have had enough pickled vegetables, curry, and cod sperm. Want to whip-up something from home, but can’t find certain ingredients? Well, here is a collection of shops in Kanazawa where you can find food items from back home.
Yamaya – やまや
This is THE foreign import store of mass-produced goods. Here you will find ingredients for Italian, Southeast Asian, Tex Mex, and Indian meals. You’ll also find imported potato chips and snacks, matzo ball soup, pancake mix, maple syrup, peanut butter, garbanzo beans, flour tortillas, hot sauce, and tons more. My listings are biased, so check this place out for yourself. Personally, I think their strength lies in their assortment of alcohol. They have a decent selection of imported beers that you won’t find in any Japanese market or conbini and an impressive selection of spirits for very decent prices; I’ve found the spirits here to be 10-30% cheaper than in the US. There are many branches spread across Japan, including one in Nanao, three in Kanazawa, one in Nonoichi, and one in Komatsu. Click here for a complete listing and hours of operation. http://www.yamaya.co.jp
Diamond - ダイヤモンド
Ah, the elusive Diamond market. Often described as the foreign goods store on the second floor of Omicho Market – beware! Many never find it, so let me guide you. From the fancy entrance facing M’za (see picture), go into the actual market, turn left, then turn right, and finally turn right once more. It will be on your left hand side. Go into the shop and THEN go upstairs to the second floor. If you try taking any other stairs to “the second floor,” you’ll never get there. This shop has a plethora of foreign goods similar to Yamaya, but more selective and on a much smaller scale. They include hundreds of spices, ghee, dry pastas, sun dried tomatoes, baking goods, shredded coconut, agave syrup, Cherry Cola, and cooking oils (avocado, grapeseed, walnut, almond). Hours of operation follow Omicho market’s schedule. http://www.daiya-net.co.jp/index.html
Fu-do – 風土
For the health-conscience, Fu-do offers a variety of brown rice (玄米) harvested exclusively by a dozen farmers across Ishikawa prefecture. A kilo of rice averages around 500-600円. They will gladly offer you rice bran (ヌカ) free of charge. You can use the rice bran to cook bamboo shoots in the spring! If you are not familiar with cooking brown rice in your rice cooker, wash it and then let it soak in water for 5 hours prior to turning on the cooker. The shop is located in the basement of Omicho market near the escalators. Hours of operation are 10am-6pm and follow Omicho’s holiday schedule. http://fu-do.agri-ishikawa.jp
This shop is owned by Yamada-san, a friendly fellow who lived in Canada for a while and speaks some English. He carries an assortment of seasonal produce from Ishikawa as well as some goods from overseas. Shop highlights include: passion fruit, fresh coriander (cilantro), jalapeños, zebra tomatoes, purple cauliflower, round squash, and cherimoyas. He receives new stock on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but if you are coming from out of town, he recommends giving him a call to check what produce is available that day. Produce subject to change with the seasons. Yaomatsu is located near the top of Shintatemachi. He is open from 8am-6pm and closed on Sundays. http://www.yaomatsu.jp
Cheese Oukoku – チーズ王国
This shop, in the basement (デパ地下) of Daiwa, opened less than a year ago. It carries a nice variety of cheeses (ricotta, gouda, cheddar, blue, parmessan, mozzarela, brie, camambert, and more). Word to the wise, if you are looking for pure crumbly feta, check out the cheese section in M’za’s basement market. These shops are not cheap, but the quality and selection is 10 times better than anything you’ll find at the supermarket. As an added bonus, if you are looking to make pesto from scratch, you can find pine nuts in the Daiwa basement market right around the cheese shop. Hours are from 10am-7pm. http://www.cheese-oukoku.co.jp/
The Meat Guy
The Meat Guy is an online meat provider based in Nagoya. Not exactly in the neighborhood, but if you are looking for meat, this is your guy. You can find anything on there: lamb chops, turkey, alligator sausage, rib eye steaks, suckling pig, Australian beef and more. Shipping is a reasonable 650円 and occasionally he offers free shipping deals. Check him out at http://www.themeatguy.jp.
This listing is Kanazawa-centric as this is where I live, but it should cover many of your bases. I invite those who live outside Kanazawa and everyone else to chime in with your recommendations in the comments section!
Here is a map I’ve put together of all of the shops listed.
Mauricio is a 2nd year ALT in Kanazawa who very much loves Japanese food.