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Jul 31, 2009 05:47 PM

Japanese Grocery in Brookline Village

Just got tweeted that it's open!

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  1. Do you know the name of the store?

    1 Reply
    1. re: unamuno

      Stopped by today....I think it was called Japanese Village Mart, just a banner hanging outside now. Inside, decent selection, not much in the way of fish though they were selling sushi (I couldn't get close to that counter, too crowded). Some good rice available, lots of miso, udon, konnyaku, pickles, etc. and a good selection of dried stuff as well. Severall non-food items too like soaps etc. Didn't take a thorough inventory, and it's not anything like Kotobukiya (maybe more like Cherry Mart), but glad to have it nonetheless.

    2. Great news, thanks. Let's hope that they will have fish like Kotobuyia!

      11 Replies
      1. re: steinpilz

        No sushi grade fish boooooo!

        They did have frozen eel, mackerel and some little fish in the freezer. Hopefully they start carrying some fish instead of the pre-made rolls.

          1. re: galleygirl

            I went there on Sunday around 2 and got a package of 12 pieces of maki (salmon, tuna, and eel with avocado). Price was great ($6.50) and the amount of fish was generous. They seem in-house made but not sure. there are a slightly irregular shape to them that suggested this. The had bins of wasabi and ginger for you to help yourself. Quality was OK especially for the price and the staff seemed nice. I hope they do well.

            1. re: gourmaniac

              Did they have other Japanese snack/lunch foods like onigiri?

              1. re: Boston_Otter

                They do have onigiri, just like kotobukiya but fewer varieties, ~$2. Last weekend there were tuna w/majo and spicy tuna. I did't see the other small prepared items (burdock for instance) that Kotobukiya had.

                I also don't remember seeing the sorts of rice cracker snacks that were by the register at Kotobukiya but there's a lot of stuff in the store and I wasn't specifically looking for them.

                1. re: steinpilz

                  They had the giant rice crackers (about 4 inches in diameter) that we bought all over Japan, about $7 a pack...Of course, they were still $5 in Japan, anyway...

            2. re: galleygirl

              To anyone who asked, they do sell Okonomai sauce, about the same prcie as Reliable. I asked about the sushi today, they do make it in house. For $6.50, I got a futo-maki sized Boston Maki, with lots of salmon in it. Very good, a pinch messy, but I couldn't tell if all the sushi was on special for "Grand Opening". They also make their own okonomiyaki. I had a bonito one; a little light on the filling, but $1.50...
              They say they will be getting fish that isn't packaged. theyre barely open, this is definitely a work in progress, although, of all things, the veggies didin't seem overpriced (what they had...)

              1. re: galleygirl

                I meant, of course, onigiri, not "okonomiyaki"

                1. re: galleygirl

                  Darn! Although that does explain the price...

                  1. re: Allstonian

                    Sorry, I obviously had okonomiyaki on the brain!

              2. re: galleygirl

                The same owner runs Sushi Arigatou at the Harvard Medical Food Court down the street.

          2. I have to say, this place is VERY expensive. There were some items that were priced very fairly. But on the whole, everything is 15-20% more expensive than Reliable. Lot of things are actually even more expensive than Cherry Mart. I realize the rent in Brookline Village is not cheap, but I did expect pricing to be comparable to Kotobukiya, and it's not.

            On the other hand, the place is more spacious than I expected. And so I do see good potential for this place.

            3 Replies
            1. re: chowmouse

              Stopped by twice and each time the people at the counter were rude and unhelpful. I explained that I had been purchasing weekly at Kotobukiya and that I would like to set up a standing order for certain items. I asked about Uni and was told that it was 'out of season.' I asked to speak to the owner and was told that he was busy. I suggested that perhaps he would like to talk to a new customer and was told 'no.'

              I'm not planning on going back.

              1. re: Buzzy2

                Sorry to hear about this, it sounds like they lost a good customer. Hoperfully they will eventually get a fish and meat effort going like Kotobukiya's great one.

                1. re: Buzzy2

                  local uni is essentially out of season. sea urchin begins to spawn in late spring around here and the quality declines dramatically. wait til mid-september.

              2. I went today and was pleasantly surprised by the selection. It is a decent store with everything from rice, dry and frozen noodles, some meat, japanese veggies, sushi, various sauces, candy, stationery, kitchen gadgets, etc... No magazines or video rentals. I even found the same special udon that Mitsuwa in NJ carries.

                1. Finally made it in there this morning. Small, cute little neighborhood market (the space feels much more compact than it had been as the Village Foodland). The selection seems decent, including a number of things that I haven't seen available elsewhere (Reliable, Cherry Market), and some things that I don't Kotobukiya carrying, like frozen taiyaki.

                  Good: decent selection of curries, natto. For some reason they have a lot of candy. Maybe that's a smart move-- I remember that I would often bring friends to Japanese megamarts in LA and they would come out with just a package of candy... maybe there's a stereotype that Americans just want Japanese candy?
                  Rice: they have tamaki gold, tamaki haiga, tamanishiki. (all for $$$, but at least available) A couple other kinds, too, but these are the ones I was looking for.
                  An average selection of sauces, noodles, furikake.

                  Bad: produce is really limited. A few "typically Japanese" things (shiso, negi, yamaimo; I didn't see gobo, but maybe I just missed it). Miniscule packages of pre-cut kaiware instead of the bigger, cheaper and much longer lasting "still rooted" packs that other places sell. I didn't see any shishito, which for some reason have been cheap and abundant at previous Japanese markets--esp. Yoshinoya in Central Sq, but even Kotobukiya; maybe there's a local supplier that this place just doesn't know about?

                  Also: no fresh oden. :( This is the one item I was *really* hoping for-- Kotobukiya's styrofoam trays of goboten were really excellent, and I practically subsisted on those for lunches. Now that the cache that I froze before they closed is nearly gone, I guess I'll have to change my diet (though this is arguably for the better! heheh) I asked if they would be getting fresh oden, but it didn't seem like this was in the cards.

                  Selection of senbei/rice crackers is also really limited-- not even the "standard" ubiquitous kinds (parinko, potapota yaki) that even the Chinese markets carry. The selection of Japanese cookies is smaller and more expensive than what one finds in the Chinese markets, with few seasonal varieties. Yoshinoya and Kotobukiya had down the idea that they could have smaller more expensive selection by carrying the new and seasonal flavors; it doesn't make sense to carry just Almond Crush and Men's Pocky if the same selection is available for cheaper elsewhere!

                  Also not ideal: as noted above, though, the prices are pretty astronomical. My feeling walking around it was very much the same kind of sadness as the first time I walked around the aisles of Kotobukiya, but more acutely. I guess the difference between something being available at a premium as a special treat vs. not available at any price is psychologically important for a mid-sized metropolitan area, but it really gives Japanese food this status as deluxe and exotic. Okonomi sauce and kewpie both around $5. Standard-sized block of konnyaku for $4.49 (!!!). Instant bowl noodles above $5. Small refrigerated dango and daifuku for about the same. The pricing is a bit inconsistent--strangely, furikake was "reasonably" priced (~ $4), and natto was, too (around $2)--but mostly quite high. That might indeed be a function of Brookline rent, but the sticker shock made me come away with even less than I'd come in for. I hope they do OK here, but I found that I'm not eager to stop by often. That's probably a bad sign, since our weekly menu breakdown is Korean dishes ~3-4 nights a week and Japanese dishes ~2-3 nights plus most lunchboxes. So we use Japanese and Korean ingredients quite heavily, which in principle should make us ideal customers for a Korean or Japanese market right down the street from us. However, precisely because we use these items so much, it turns out to be worth the time and distance to go somewhere with a bigger and cheaper selection. We actually rarely went to Village Foodland, and I have a feeling that at these prices, the Japanese version will also be just an "emergency pit-stop" for us. Hopefully things will even out, or they'll at least start stocking a more useful selection of premade items for lunchboxes (fingers crossed for the oden like Kotobukiya used to have!)

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: another_adam

                    Do you remember if they have matcha accessories? My son is looking for a whisk and a bowl.

                    1. re: bear

                      Hmmmm. There was a tea aisle that I didn't inspect much, and a very small housewares section that was mostly plastics. They don't have a ceramics section, that I recall, so I'm guessing not-- but then again, I wasn't looking for this kind of thing, so you might try giving them a call to be sure! (The little Japanese giftwares shop in the Porter Exchange might be another place to try)

                      1. re: another_adam

                        Will do, thanks. If not, there's always Amazon.

                        1. re: another_adam

                          The shop at Porter is Tokai. They would be your best bet. Also, Japan Village Food does have a very small selection of ceramics.

                          1. re: robertlf

                            Thanks, robert and adam. Porter is pretty convenient, so we'll try there first. I'd prefer to support a local business rather than order on-line.

                            1. re: bear

                              Japan Village Food has maybe 3 or 4 pieces total. Tokai is definitely the place and I have seen them carry matcha accessories. I too believe in supporting local shops. Good luck!

                              1. re: robertlf

                                Awesome. And oh, I guess we'll just have to hit up the food court while we're there!

                      2. re: another_adam

                        Thanks for helpful post. My wife and I had been there earlier in the month, surveyed the digs, and were greatly disappointed...sad to see that things have not "grown" since we were there. Guess we'll have to wait for H mart-Burlington and Ebisuya-Medford for a (hopefully) better stocked store.