As a foreigner living in Ishikawa, no matter how much you love Japanese food, there comes a point when you’ve had enough pickled vegetables, fried cutlets, and petrified fish. Have you been wanting to prepare recipe from back home, but can’t find the right ingredients? Well, here is a collection of shops in Kanazawa which will help you put together a taste from home.
Yamaya – やまや
This is a major chain of mass-produced goods. It offers the fundamental ingredients for typical Italian, Southeast Asian, Tex Mex, and Indian meals. You’ll also find imported American potato chips and snacks, matzo ball soup, pancake mix, maple syrup, peanut butter, garbanzo beans, flour tortillas, hot sauce, and tons more. This place is enormous and my listings are items that stand out to me, so I encourage you to take a look at the inventory 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 at very decent prices; I’ve found the spirits here to be 10-30% less expensive than in the US. There are many branches 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.” To some it’s a myth and many go searching for it in vain. Let me be your guide. Enter the market through the Cafe Arco Mercato entrance facing M’za (see picture), turn left and head towards the butcher shop, there turn right, and then turn right once more. Diamond will be on your left hand side. Walk inside and proceed upstairs to their foreign goods section. It is only accessible by going inside the store. Diamond has a plethora of foreign goods similar to Yamaya, but on a smaller scale and better curated. Highlights 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 weekly schedule. http://www.daiya-net.co.jp/index.html
Fu-do – 風土
For the health-conscience, Fu-do stocks a variety of brown rice (玄米) harvested exclusively by a dozen farmers across Ishikawa prefecture. A kilo of rice averages from 400-600円. Should you be interested, they also offer rice bran (ヌカ) free of charge, which you can use to cook bamboo shoots or pickle-ferment vegetables! If you are not familiar with cooking brown rice in your rice cooker, simply give it a rinse and let it soak in cold water for 5 hours prior to turning it on. Fu-do is located in the basement of M’za near the Andersen bakery. Hours of operation are 10am-8pm and follow M’za’s holiday schedule. https://www.facebook.com/fuudokanazawa
This tiny produce market is owned by Matsuda-san, a friendly fellow who lived in Canada for a brief period and who speaks some English. He carries an assortment of seasonal produce from Ishikawa as well as some items from overseas. Shop highlights include passion fruit, fresh coriander (cilantro), jalapeños, zebra tomatoes, tomatillos, purple cauliflower, round squash, and cherimoyas. He typically receives new inventory on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but if you are coming from out of town, he recommends giving him a call to ensure the product you are looking for is in stock. Produce is subject to change with the seasons. Yaoya 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 cheese stand, located in the basement (デパ地下) of Daiwa, carries an impressive variety of cheeses (ricotta, Gouda, cheddar, blue, goat’s, brie, Parmesan, mozzarella, Camembert, feta, the list goes on). This shop is not cheap, but the quality and selection is excellent and incomparable to than anything you’ll find at any supermarket in Ishikawa. While you’re here, the market around the corner from this cheese kingdom sells pine nuts if you are interested in making pesto from scratch. 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 most meat products on there: 100% beef patties, lamb chops, turkeys, alligator sausage, rib eye steaks, suckling pig, real bacon, and more. Shipping is a reasonable 650円 and they can usually deliver within 2-3 days of your order. Occasionally they’ll offer free shipping deals. Check them out at http://www.themeatguy.jp.
This listing is Kanazawa-centric as this is with what I am familiar, 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 mentioned.
Mauricio Cobian is a 2nd year ALT in Kanazawa who, despite this entry, cannot have enough of Japanese food.