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Oct 13, 2010 01:16 PM

The must-have grocery items to bring back from Tokyo?

My husband is traveling in Tokyo this week on business, and when he's there he always picks up some random grocery items. This time I want him to really stock up for us, because we both really enjoy eating Japanese cuisine (curries, ramens, robata, that sort of thing..oh and sushi too!) and I'd love to be able to recreate some things at home, or at least get some good Japanese pantry basics that would be much cheaper there than here (or maybe not, but it's fun to know you bought them in Japan, at least).

Things I was thinking of: green tea salt, good nori, tonkatsu sauce (recently discovered and LOVE IT), curry cubes, a variety of miso pastes, that sort of thing. I also read that there's other varieties of Japanese kit-kats (bitter almond! baked corn! SOY SAUCE!) and some oreo candy bar that's supposedly very good.

Would love to hear what people would include on a list of Japanese pantry basics, and also any amazing only-in-Japan products I should be sure to have him look for.

Thanks so much!

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  1. Well, i guess it depends on where you're from, but over here there are a few items i tasted in japan that i wish we had here.

    -Matcha (powdered tea) is rather expensive here, but cheap there!
    -Wasabi tastes different in japan.
    -PLUM WINE, or umeshu. This is a definite must! Get the one with plums inside
    -Mochi, but i don't know if you can carry those over the border.

    This is a fun topic! i can't wait to see what other people say :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: SourberryLily

      I put most of these on my list- thanks!

    2. My DH and I went to Japan last year and are already planning a trip back. Besides the flavored Kit Kats I also brought back:

      - Kombu (to make dashi) unless you live in LA or NY it's really hard to find good kombu in the US
      - Yozo Kushu - fermented peper and yuzu peel. It tastes better than it sounds.
      - x2 on the miso. In Shinjuku one of the dept store (can't remember which one) sells handmade miso out of barrels. We brought home a black miso.
      - Katsuboshi - dried fish flakes. OMG. Thought I would hate them but had them on top of Okonomiyoki and I loved the smoky taste.
      - Pure brand candy - those are jelly candies and come in flavors like Ume and lemon.
      - Senbei - rice crackers. At the senbei stall near the Sensoji temple they sell senbei with coarse sugar and ume topping.

      Also consider sending him to a 100 Yen shop. You can get rice molds, bento boxes, chopsticks, and other cooking supplies that are small, lightweight and cheap.

      Great topic.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rosepoint

        These are great suggestions, thank you! Oh I think he might have told me about that dept store miso (he stays in shinjuku).

        1. re: Indirect Heat

          Hehe, we actually have one of those in our freezer, believe it or not (he just went tuna fishing off NJ)

        2. First post so be nice:)

          I got back from a trip to Tokyo yesterday and came back with most of the stuff already listed, but also a big bag of Panko breadcrumbs and lots of different kinds of furikake, which is different kinds of seasoning to sprinkle over your rice. For sauces, check out the Bulldog brand.

          I also bought a bag of black sesame seeds - these things are great, again for sprinkling on rice although I'm making sushi and will dip my onigiri in them

          I also wanted to bring back some pickes but I suspect they need refridgerating so didn't risk them. Also you'll find no end of dried meats and fish in even the most basic conveinence store, so if you like those, stock up. However I'm not sure if you can bring dried meats back to the EU/US - I know the fresh stuff is not allowed.

          I also bought a Zojirushi Rice cooker - they have export models in the main electronics town and also at the airport. Santa Claus (aka MrS) has confiscated it until Christmas so no playing yet!

          Definitely check out a Y100 store - look out for Daiso or Ichiban-Kan. They have huge ranges of kitchen stuff you never thought you needed. However if you can't find one, check out Tokyu Hands or Loft, both of which have good kitchen sections.

          Have fun!