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japanese grocery in DC?

I'll be working in DC (Capitol Hill/8th St SE area) temporarily for the next several weeks and am looking for a good japanese or well stocked asian market. Ideally, I'm looking for somewhere with good produce and dry goods and vegetarian friendly.
I know there are some similar posts already regarding asian markets, and I've sifted through most of them-
But being brand new to DC and only having the Metro as transportation, I could use a little more help...

Any thoughts would be most appreciated!

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  1. that's my 'hood,

    Yes organic grocery (Penn and 7 SE) has a fairly decent assortment of noodles, dry goods and condiments and the E Market at 7 and C has to be combed and questions asked - the more you look, the more you find, but you may be pleasantly surprised.

    sadly, most good Asian markets are way out in the 'burbs now that Da Hua has closed. I suppose you could ride the Orange out to Merrifield and walk the half mile or so to the one at Gallows Road...

    1. Welcome to Washington! One advantage to living here is that numerous expatriates from all countries and cultures are available to help you locate international resources in the area.

      If you call the Embassy of Japan (202-238-6700), I suspect the expat answering the phone will be happy to provide an authentic, personal recommendation. (Or get you one within seconds from the expat at the next desk.)

      I've used this embassy strategy many times to locate not only groceries, but other country-specific resources (e.g. restaurants, translators, bookstores) as well when entertaining foreign visitors to DC was part of my old job. I've never had an occasion where the embassies seemed less than happy to help, or where it took more than a minute to get an answer. And their recommendations were *always* right on target.

      2 Replies
      1. re: tubman

        and/or consulates and chanceries...they seem to be generally less grouchy.

        but a good rec nonetheless.

        1. re: tubman

          If you do call the Japanese Embassy and they offer any recommendations that fit your criteria, please report back. I don't think such a place exists in DC (there used to be a small Japanese market on Wisconsin Ave, but I think it closed many years ago) but would be interested to hear what you find out.

          Daruma in Bethesda is close enough to the Metro. Very expensive produce, though.

          H Mart (the "one at Gallows Road") is Korean-owned but has a good selection of produce and dry goods.

          Another thought might be for you to make a trip to Eden Center (about one mile from the East Falls Church metro). The markets there aren't as good as Super H, but, if you are vegetarian, you would probably be very interested in the tofu store - my Japanese friends love their tofu.

        2. It's not on the hill, but there is a small store in NW called "Danny's Tindahan" which according to the sign is a Filipino - Japanese grocery. I have to admit I've never actually been inside though. It's on Wisconsin Avenue near Van Ness (across from the McDonalds), so probably a 10 minute walk or short bus ride south from Tenley metro.

          1. There are an assortment of "Asian" grocers but they are mostly Korean/Chinese.

            Naniwa is in McLean and is strictly Japanese. There are several in Japanese grocers in the Rockville area; try a Google search to find them. None of these are really accessibel by Metro, however.

            1. The closest Metro accessible Japanese market would be Daruma in Bethesda.

              1. I was thrilled to recently discover a tiny little Vietnamese market right near the Columbia Heights metro. They sell dry goods (various condiments, sauces, noodles, etc.), fresh herbs and greens. It is a find, especially for those of us who live in the District.
                From the Columbia Heights metro, take go north up 14th Street for one block, and take a left on Park Road. It's halfway down the block on the left.

                The Filipino place on Wisconsin Ave near Tenleytown is also not bad, and probably a bit larger than this Vietnamese place. I don't remember them having much produce when I dropped by, but that was over a year ago.

                1. sorta off topic, but just saw "Italian style" Panko at the 15+E Safeway...

                  1. Thank you everyone for all your help!
                    This is all a great start and a great chance to explore outside my new neighborhood-

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: bittermuse

                      I should have added that the Safeway I mentioned is still somewhat dismal (although has a good deal on SE Asian fish sauce) but it's getting better and a Harris Teeter's is due to open soon at 14 and Penn across from Potomac Ave. Metro. with hope the competition will smarten them both.

                    2. Sadly, you are not going to find anything inside the district. One of the sad truths about DC is that any authentic ethnic food requires leaving the city and heading off into the suburbs of NoVa and MoCo. The good news, however, is that you will find a really great assortment of Japanese products at H mart, which has branches in Wheaton, MD as well as Falls Church and Fairfax, VA. On a recent trip, I was able to pick up some sushi grade tuna and salmon, frozen broiled unagi, sushi rice and nori (any guess what I was making?). They also have assorted Japanese snacks and sweets (like mochi ice cream and anpan) as well as Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai staples. The other secret of H mart is that you can get fresh fish for about a third the price you would pay at Whole Foods. Honestly, if they built one of these near a metro line in the city, I wouldn't shop anywhere else. Do yourself a favor: Rent a zip car and drive out to the 'burbs to stock up. It's well worth the trip.

                      1. Hana Japanese Market, 17th and U NW

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: riled

                          It's tiny, but this place is pretty good. The produce isn't great, though, so you may need to supplement what you can't find.

                          1. re: pgm123

                            Hana gets veggies delivered on Thursday--the day to go...

                            1. re: foodslut

                              Ah, man. That's ever so slightly inconvenient for me. But that's really good to know.