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Jun 7, 2009 07:03 PM

Japanese cuisine ingredients - where to buy in Toronto?

Hi there,

I just returned from a trip from Japan and want to explore Japanese cuisine in my kitchen. I was wondering where to go for the ingredients.. mirin, kombu, bonito flakes, tempura bits, etc.

As well, any tips on where to buy good soba and miso?


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  1. If you're in the Queen St. W area - Sanko's at Queen and Claremont (just west of Bathurst). Small Japanese owned general store - you'll find most things you're looking for. If they don't have it they'll be more than happy to redirect you.

    If you're from the burbs than try J-Town in Markham, Steels/Vic. Park:

    Larger variety of items.

    1. P.A.T. has Japanese goods at lower prices than the specialty stores

      P A T Central Market
      675 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G, CA

      1. Sanko and J-Town, as already mentioned and are accessible. Taro's Fish is also a great Japanese fishmonger. Many big Asian supermarkets will have a variety of Japanese food items for much cheaper than the smaller shops (like T&T). Korean groceries (like P.A.T.) will often have Japanese things, or at least a similar Korean version.

        You won't find some things, and will have to substitute. Some items are fairly expensive and not really worth buying unless you need to. For instance, though I love Kewpie, it's pretty expensive to buy here and ridiculously unhealthy compared to Hellman's or whatever. The flavour is entirely different though.

        As for quality of products, check the labels, and try a few different varieties of the items if possible. Also note that sometimes, as soon as you find a product you like, it will go missing of store shelves forever with no hope for a future return.

        Another note: most of the better Japanese chefs in the city still fly in many or most things from Japan. We certainly have a lot of things available to us in Toronto, but sometimes the quality isn't stellar, the prices are absurd, or they disappear at random. If you're trying to make food at home, try making seasonal recipes with substitutions for seasonal ingredients available to you here. Eating here will never be quite the same as eating in Japan, just as with any country, but you can certainly make the best of it!

        1. Some Japanese vegetables can be grown here, or purchased fresh. I planted a wasabi root a month ago, and it is doing well. Some suppliers would include, Stokes, Dominion, Cookstown, and Richters.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jayt90

            I think you can try to grow any vegetable here but the question is where can one find the best premium condition, water, soil, etc for growing certain vegetable. Here can never grow a wasabi in Toronto that is the same grade as what is shown in the picture below.

          2. T&T and J-Town often have some Japanese vegetables like gobou (burdock root), yamaimo/nagaimo (mountain yam), Japanese cucumbers, and kabocha (which now shows up in many Chinese grocery stores), but the biggest problem (I find) is searching out herbs and leafy vegetables like shiso (the Japanese kind, not the Korean kind which is quite prevalent), mitsuba, and mizuna.

            6 Replies
            1. re: lsk

              The good part about shiso is that you can grow it at home!

              1. re: tjr

                The bad part about Shiso is that it will take over your garden. ;)

                1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                  Why would you want to grow anything else? :-)

                    1. re: jeannieh20

                      slightly off topic - where can I buy shiso seeds (or seedlings) and is it too late to plant?

                      1. re: Apple

                        Here is a Canadian source, and at $1.50 a packet, less than half the price of foreign sources.