One of the biggest changes I’ve had to deal with since moving from Hawaii to New York City is a simple one: grocery shopping.
At first, I was thrilled with the idea of online shopping and having my groceries delivered right to my door for a pretty nominal fee. Since Hawaii’s groceries are pretty high-priced, I wasn’t surprised when I was shopping here. Pricing was similar, and with sales, it wasn’t so bad.
The one thing that threw me for a loop was that I couldn’t go to one store to get everything I needed. Why? Because the normal grocery stores carried only a VERY limited amount of asian foods. No where could I find rice, udon, sauces, those awesome curry bricks, etc. These places had the staples, like shoyu (soy sauce) and some teriyaki or oyster sauce, but this wasn’t Donki. Heck, Longs back home probably had a better selection than most places out here.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a few asian grocery stores, but they’re out of the way and pretty pricey.
So when we heard there was a Mitsuwa, which is basically a big box Japanese grocery store, we flipped. There’s a shuttle that goes straight from Port Authority to Mitsuwa for $3/person. My suggestion: call to make sure the store is open and go to the shuttle stop early. We made the mistake of not doing this, and got denied twice. Power outages and shuttles ending early. The shuttles also only fit about 20-30 people, so if you’re person #31, you’re out of luck and waiting for the next one.
We got there pretty early after our previous failed attempts, and bought some random snacks from inside the Port Authority shops for the ride. Totally off topic, but if you haven’t tried the Burger King Onion Rings and French Toast, try them. They’re actually pretty amazing. Tastes eerily like the real thing! Hahaha.
Enough buttery, fatty talk. On to Mitsuwa!
We checked out the little store that was off to the side, first. This store was mostly omiyage or gift-type items.
Angry bird house slippers! I was actually thinking about getting a pair, but decided not to at the last moment. My feet are freezing tonight and I’m totally kicking myself for it. Hahhaa.
An entire all just for totoro! <3
Lots of random dishes and serving utensils, as well. Like these super cute chopsticks holders. If only we sat down for dinner more often.
Once inside, I realized that it’s pretty much just like Shirokiya, but no sales tax and a lot cheaper.
There were a bunch of food stands lining the front end of the store:
I think the vendors change from time to time, so the best bet is to check our their website or call them for more information. When we went, there were those custard filled pancake looking things, udon, some super special ramen that we didn’t want to wait in line for (turns out the chef is from Japan and only comes once a year! ><) and a handful of meat-a-tarian vendors that I didn’t really pay attention to. (sorry!)
There was also this:
I have no idea how a ball of rice with some ume can cause me such immeasurable happiness, but I swear it does. It makes me yearn for a rice cooker, since cooking rice on the stove has effectively caused me to cook rice about 1/2 as often as I’d like to.
I would say my hips are happy about that, but you know, there’s still doughnuts across the street…!
Moving right along, they had this magical garlic sauce on sale:
This is seriously the best thing since shoyu. I mean, I put it on EVERYTHING and I swear it’s amazing. Thank you Sheldon and Eri for getting us addicted! Hahaha. Along with that, we stocked up on some random groceries, and I stocked up on…candy.
Had to take a picture of the Collon. I’ve never tried it, mostly because of the name and packaging, but one of these days…
Of course, capped off the day with some $5 udon (which was amaaaazing), those custard-ey pancakes (I can never remember the name for these things!) and Pocari Sweat to wash it all down! Hehe.
All in all, it was fun, but not sure it’s a trip we’d make again soon. The shuttle to get out there is NOT trustworthy. The schedule they had posted on their website said it comes approx every 30-45 minutes. We waited outside Mitsuwa for almost an hour and a half before the shuttle came! I can only imagine the frustration of the 10 or so people that didn’t fit on the shuttle and had to wait around for the next one! Maybe zipcar would be the way to do it?
Anyone living in NYC have any tips on where they get their asian groceries? I’ve tried Katagiri, they have delivery, but you sort of need to know what you want (no online shopping option). Would love any suggestions.
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