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where to buy japanese stuff

  • m

Hi everybody,
i'm an italian guy who loves very much cooking particularly japanese...I found this very nice blog lately and I post this because i really need some help. I'm coming to L.A for business (I'm a wineproducer) and i'd like very much to buy japanese items (tableware, cookware and foods) they are really hard to find here in Italy...is there anyone that can tell me where i can go (I know Mitsuwa for esample)?
many many many thanks

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  1. You did not mention where you are staying, but there are Ranch 99 markets throughout LA. They have a lot of basic Japanese things, including relatively inexpensive cookware and tableware. But those will be basics. If you want more unusual items, you may have to hunt around Little Tokyo. Also, some of the shops on Sawtelle have dishes and tableware.

    1. Go to Marukai, (see web link). They have 5 or 6 locations in and around LA, (their web site has a store location feature). They should have everything you are looking for.


      4 Replies
      1. re: Servorg

        If you want to go to some of the Marukais you need a membership card ($10, I believe) so I'm not sure it's worth it. Never asked but they may allow a one day free shopping pass. Some membership stores here allow that, but you'd have to call and ask first. I haven't a clue if Marukai do that for visiting tourists. If you end up in the Little Tokyo area near downtown Los Angeles, I'd suggest you try Rafu Bussan gift shop at 326 E. Second Street. If you do a google search (rafu bussan, los angeles) you get some details although they don't have a website. They sell lots of Japanese tableware, some cutlery and other Japanese items. The staff are very helpful and knowledgeable; they seem to have been the same crew for years. The biggest market in Little Tokyo is the Mitsuwa on Third and Central (about 2 blocks away) from Rafu Bussan. There is a Marukai (don't need a membership card at this one except for some of the "specials") market and Nijiya Market near the Rafu Bussan but they both aren't very big. Nijiya is kind of known for having more organic produce, etc. By the way, I have nothing to do with any of these stores except as a customer. My friends have a camera store in Little Tokyo and so I'm always hanging around in the area. Hope you find what you need. 99 Ranch Markets are a Chinese chain market, but they are huge and might have some of the things you want/need. There isn't one close to Little Tokyo. You might check out the Koreatown area west of downtown Los Angeles if you're interested in Korean things. The areas of Japanese businesses are usually not too big.

        1. re: Feed_me

          Mitsuwas and Marukais are plentiful throughout Southern California and particularly in Gardena/Torrance/Lomita, where you'll find the heart of the Japanese community. Marukai tends to have a wider assortment at slightly cheaper prices and you can buy a one-day temp membership for $1. I like the Marukai on Artesia.

          There's also Nijiya market nearby, which is another large Japanese market in the area.

          If you're interested in mochi/manju/daifuku, my favorite place for them is Sakura-ya in Gardena. http://poptisserie.blogspot.com/2007/...

          1. re: Feed_me

            You can get a pass good for one month at Marukai for $1. At least you could at the Gardena location last fall. I also second Rafu Bussan for higher end ceramics at a good price. There is also a ceramics place in the Mitsuwa mall on 3rd St. that has lots of ceramic items, many at bargain prices.

            1. re: hpcat

              Thanks for the second "hpcat." I just noticed the ceramics place in the Mitsuwa mall on 3rd Street yesterday. I usually don't venture to the Mitsuwa mall. Good bit of info.

        2. I go to the San Gabriel Mitsuwa store. Their website - http://www.mitsuwa.com/slh2.html - shows all the stores.

          1. You might also try a hardware store located on 1st Street in J-town... the name slips my mind at the moment, but it carries alot of hard-to-find gadgets... maybe some of the other posters will recall the name... it's just a couple of doors away from the Fugetsu-do mochi and manju place...

            1 Reply
            1. re: bulavinaka

              The hardware store on 1st Street is Anzen:

              Anzen Hardware & Supplies
              309 E 1st St Los Angeles
              (213) 628-7600

              You might also try:

              S.K. Uyeda Department Store
              350 East First Street
              Los Angeles, CA
              (213) 687-4812

            2. On Sawtelle, there is an import store for cookwares but Little Tokyo where Mitsuwa is has a small appliance store which has rice cookers and such. Torrance Mitsuwa is far the best one and you can get everthing there. If you don't mind getting a membership for a year, there is Marukai- discount Japanese store that has everything from books to medicine to food to prepared food- raw fish, veg's you name it

              1. Murakai also has a discount 99 cents store in Torrance on Hawthorne and Sepulveda. I think there is also a location on Artesia and Vermont in Gardena. Although it started as a 99 cents store, they had to raise there prices 25 - 50% last year becasue of the exchange rate. Has anyone ever heard of another store that stayed in business after annoucing an significant price increase overnight and stayed in business!

                7 Replies
                1. re: gaylenwaydelich

                  There is also another 98 Marukai in Cypress. In regards to the one day pass at the regular store, I am pretty sure that they do this.

                  1. re: justagthing

                    Many many thanks to everybody you were so nice to help me.
                    I pose you another question if you have time...what about a very good japanese restaurant? I mean a traditional one not fusion or stuff like this. I lodge in 8585 Santa Monica Blvd.
                    Finally for the ones who like to take a look to my web site here the adress:
                    My winery is really very ancient (1892) and most part of it was dag into the hill.
                    bye and thank again


                    1. re: maxco

                      If price is not an issue:

                      8684 Melrose Ave
                      West Hollywood, CA
                      Phone: (310) 659-4770
                      Cross Street:
                      San Vicente Boulevard Map
                      Mon-Fri 12pm-2:30pm, 6pm-10:30pm
                      Sat 6pm-10:30pm

                      1. re: Servorg

                        Well, if price is not an issue, then Urasawa...

                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                          The price of Urasawa would be an ISSUE.

                      2. re: maxco

                        Try Aki on Santa Monica about half mile west of the 405. Nothing fancy. Just solid Japanese food, including sushi bar.

                        11513 Santa Monica Blvd
                        Los Angeles, CA 90025
                        (310) 479-8406

                        1. re: jfommy

                          Ajisai is a nice, little family-run restaurant with good sushi. It is on Palm, about two doors north of Santa Monica Blvd.. It is an easy walk from your motel, just turn right (go west) on Santa Monica Blvd. until you get to Palm. Turn right again. It is across the street from the car wash.

                          In the morning, you might also want to hike in the same direction to the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for your coffee (you'll pass it on your way to Ajisai). There's an excellent news stand on the same corner as the coffee shop and the people watching is pretty good.

                  2. Sadly, most of the Japanese cookware, etc here is junk. I doubt if most of it is even made in Japan. Anzen has some decent knives and tools, about the quality you could find at a stall in Tsukiji. Just about no one has good pottery. Mineo Mizuno is local though in Atwater Village, and he is a master (he made the most of the pottery for Nishimura)

                    1. There is a beautiful selection of tableware at a store that only sells tableware in the Yaohan Plaza in Little Tokyo--next to the Mitsuwa market. Once inside, you should be able to see it. The name escapes me, but they have fancy fare as well as everyday usage tableware.

                      Once inside the Yaohan Plaza, there are various eateries that are family owned. I am sure that if you go and ask for the owner, he or she would direct you to a good place to get high quality cookware.

                      However, I have noticed that in Wing Hop Fung off Broadway in Chinatown, has a lot of the SAME tableware from the SAME manufacturers for cheaper. This was several years ago, so I would check both to see the prices. They also have a large selection of crystallized fruits, if you like candy.

                      For sushi, there are 2 restaurants that I frequent. My favorite place is Ahi Sushi. Their address is 12915 Ventura Blvd, Studio City and their phone number is 818.981.0277. I suggest the yellowtail sashimi, kampachi sashimi, toro cut roll, and the scallop with sea salt and lemon sushi. My other favorite sushi place is Asakuma on Wilshire Blvd, cross street is Barrington (inside the Barrington Plaza). There I suggest the spider roll, spicy tuna roll and kampachi cut roll.

                      If you prefer noodles and curry dishes to sushi, there are some good places off of Sawtelle between La Grange and W Olympic in West Los Angeles. They are what I call good cheap eats.

                      Enjoy your visit to LA and bon appetit!

                      1. Maxco...I think Marukai Forum in Gardena (Western & Artesia) has the biggest and cheapest Japanese kitchen section in LA. For dishes, I usually find dishes at the Marukai 98 shops (they used to be dollar shops, but have increased to $1.50 shop). Check out the Marukai 98 shop on Artesia Blvd. or on Hawthorne Blvd. There are some good finds on Japanese dishes for $1.50.

                        As for Japanese restaurant...I'd suggest Musha in Torrance (izakaya), Shin Sen Gumi in Torrance (yakitori), Santouka at the Mitsuwa food courts in Torrance or W.LA for shio ramen, and Sushi Zo in Palms for sushi. Have fun in LA!