HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

Discussion

Marukai Japanese Market Coming to Pico & Bundy WLA

Marukai http://www.marukai.com/index-e.html is going in upstairs to what was formerly the piano outlet just west of the Taco Bell on Pico (essentially the NW corner of Pico and Bundy). Should be good for us and bad for Mitsuwa and Nijiya

-----
Nijiya Market
2130 Sawtelle Blvd 105, Los Angeles, CA 90025

Mitsuwa Marketplace
3760 S Centinela Ave, Los Angeles, CA

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
    1. re: J.L.

      "Supermarket wars!"

      A "snack attack" perhaps? (No groaning please)

      1. re: Servorg

        So excited! Thanks for letting us know. I was just at Mitsuwa yesterday b/c I didn't want to make the trek to Marukai, and I found the sashimi we bought to be less tasty and more expensive than at Marukai. We make the trek to Marukai monthly, filled in with Nijiya stops, but now we can consolidate, and it's even closer than Nijiya!

    2. How's their seafood selection, compared to Nijiya, for example?

      4 Replies
      1. re: epop

        I think they are more about the huge selection they give you for things like noodles or curries. Fish and meat are fine, but not what drives their customers for the most part.

        1. re: Servorg

          Then I will stick to Nijiya. I appreciate their quality on so many levels (but wish they'd get rid of styrofoam).

          1. re: epop

            I think their fish and meat selection is better and a lot bigger than nijiya, at least in the location I go to (artesia in Gardena). Not sure how big the department will be in this new location.

            1. re: ericat

              I hope the sushi grade seafood is at least as fresh as Nijiya's.

      2. Isn't Marukai a membership store like Costco (with annual membership dues)?

        2 Replies
        1. re: Norm Man

          Yes, but one year is only $10, 2 years is $15 and I think a 3 year membership is $20

          1. re: Servorg

            You can also pay each time you go, it's only $1 for a day pass. The savings are worth it though.

        2. I'm not familiar with Marukai...do they have a food court?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Ciao Bob

            Yes, but I don't know how much space they'll have at this location so it remains to be seen for the new branch.

          2. I'm wondering what type of store they will be setting up. The original Marukai is HUGE - most would analogize it to a Costco for Japanese stuff. But Marukai now has non-membership stores, as well as stores that focus more on discounted merchandise (mostly non-food). I've never been in this building, but I'm guessing it's not nearly large enough to even roughly emulate the warehouse store. Maybe more like a smaller version of the non-member store in Pacific Square?

            1. Heard recently that the senior citizen's discount (3 years for $10) was being discontinued. Marukai is probably the largest distributor for Hawaii imports on the west coast. Specialized food items like ogo seaweed is flown in weekly (Fridays) if anyone is interested.

              1. Marukai is my favorite Japanese store. I'm so happy about this new location! I now make the trek from West Hollywood to Gardena at least once a month. Hopefully, it will be as good as the Western/Artesia location.

                They said that it should open in March.

                4 Replies
                1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                  There's been a Marukai in Little Tokyo for many years now. A bit closer to Hollywood than Gardena.

                  1. re: J.L.

                    Little Tokyo store is non- membership and doesn't have as much stuff :-)

                    1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                      Membership required for the membership specials.

                      1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                        marukai LT is actually a membership store. 100% verified, was there last week.

                  2. Wonder what the parking situation will be. The garage under the building isn't that big.

                    1. I got Marukai's Newsletter today and it says the new location will open on Fri, March 25, but the opening date may change...

                      8 Replies
                      1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                        I just called Marukai and they are open, but their "Grand Opening" is 3/25. Unfortunately, they are closed tomorrow, Sunday, 3/20. Wish I had called earlier in the day, I would have stopped by today.

                        1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                          They're in the midst of a "pre-opening" or a preview opening (not sure how they phrased it), but I went in last week and it's not fully stocked. There was no fish, but there was a lot of frozen items prepared and pickled stuff - and pretty much everything else. FWIW - it's not as big as the Mitsuwa on Sawtelle. But seems a bit bigger than Nijiya.

                          1. re: foodiemahoodie

                            I wonder how all the Japanese stores' shelves will be with it being so hard to get stuff from Japan now.

                            If the new Marukai is that small, maybe I will have to continue going to the one in Gardena:o(

                            1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                              I think it will really boil down to, what do you usually get. Will most of your regular needs be met by the new store? And finally, how far out of your way is it to the Gardena store with rapidly rising gas prices? The old "trade off" game...

                              1. re: Servorg

                                Serv, when I go to the one in Gardena, either once or twice a month, I usually fill up the whole shopping cart, so I buy ALOT of stuff. Maybe saving 15 mins of my time will not be worth going to the new location, but I want to check it out to see how it is.

                                I agree with you, not your words, but it's all relative...;o)

                                1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                  Nijiya on Sawtelle is too small for me, it's great for stopping for one meal, but they don't have enough products to stock up on.

                            2. re: foodiemahoodie

                              Correction - I was in there today and it's about the size of Mitsuwa. I think. Still no fresh fish, poultry, meat or produce. That should be on Friday.

                              1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                Thanks foodie for the update. Not having the "fresh" stuff is a problem. Hopefully, they will have it in time for the Grand Opening.

                        2. does the westside need another japanese food shop? there's no love for the eastside is there? i'm in pasadena and the mitswa over here in san gabriel is tiny and miserable. sure there's a plethora of chinese markets and some decent korean markets but japanese specific markets are far and few. i also have little tokyo but the parking for groceries in little tokyo can be tough with kids. jealous!

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: trolley

                            You get NO sympathy from the west side! since we have to go to K-town or Van Nuys for any Chinese/Korean markets!

                            1. re: trolley

                              I am disappointed too, although I understand the risks I shop at Mitsuwa all the time and most of the customers are Chinese. I know theres a demand for Japanese products from the Chinese community in the San Gabriel Valley.

                              1. re: trolley

                                I'll trade you the Marukai for a 99 Ranch. How's that?

                                -----
                                99 Ranch
                                17713 Pioneer Blvd, Artesia, CA

                                  1. re: Jase

                                    Yes, we need a 99 Ranch in the westside!

                                1. I went to the new Marukai in West LA this Sunday and it was terribly disappointing to see the choice of location and building size that they chose to open up in. Considering the needs of the community for a Marukai with its diverse and abundant offerings, I found this new location to be lacking in produce, meats, and a considerable amount of the offerings that the Gardena store offers. Add to that the disconnected and cramped parking situation and you get a place to avoid rather than visit. A trip to Gardena is well worth the pain saved in patronizing a space that was never intended to house a market of Marukai's size. I don't expect every Marukai location to be a supermart like the Gardena location but I would expect Marukai corporate to be looking to build new locations to suit their needs rather than tailor and restrict their offerings to the size of whatever paltry piece of real estate they can find with the minimum of effort. Very disappointed and disillusioned with the "new" Marukai location.

                                  16 Replies
                                  1. re: mrshankly

                                    mrshankly, I completely agree with you.
                                    We were there on Saturday afternoon, and I felt very cramped from the parking congestion to the narrow aisles that were difficult to navigate because they are broken by some center table displays.

                                    The Gardena store is much "brighter" and has the vibe of activity rather than of chaos.

                                    Also, one of the great attractions for me at the Gardena store is their wares department. The wares section at the West LA Marukai is very abbreviated.

                                    mrshankly, I think you captured the feel of the West LA Marukai quite well.

                                    1. re: mrshankly

                                      Not that I'm some sort of oracle, but I was very disappointed when I heard about the location. I didn't want to douse Marukai's fire by prejudging their location, but it just has a lot going against it. Bad intersection, no direct parking, small floor space, on the second floor, etc. It was doomed from the start in my eyes. It also is a comment on how half-serious Marukai seems to be about the Westside. In this current commercial real estate market, they could have either chosen more wisely, just waited for the appropriate property to pop up and then pounce on it, or just build to suit their needs. I know the Westside doesn't have an abundance of open space, and it does command a premium per square foot compared to other areas, but this location is just an exercise in masochism. After seeing both of your less than luke warm opinions on this place, I'm not even interested in going.

                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                        Wow, I thought it was a great location. For me anyway. Right off the 10 coming from the west side of Santa Monica. Perfect, I can get there in 10 minutes. Direct parking? What's that mean? There's parking in that garage 20 feet from the front door (where I was lucky enough to land a spot on opening day) and the lot in back. Second floor? It's on the second floor? I've been there three times now and I must have missed that. (kidding, but it's not on the 2nd floor, but there was a sign in the 2nd floor window).

                                        This is the only Marukai I've ever been to. Friday's opening was madness. There was a line outside waiting to get in (didn't take longer than a minute however) . Inside was very crowded. Had to wait 30 minutes to check out. I assume it's not going to be busy like that when it settles down. Also hard to see what they have for sale until things settle down - looks like they were running out of some stuff (as in fish). I didn't see any uni or monkfish liver or any of the exotic stuff I see at Nijiya. (did anyone else see it there?) They did have some hamachi for 19.99 a pound on sale, but not a lot of it (I was having a dinner party and I needed a couple pounds of it - so I passed, but I didn't I ask for it either.

                                        1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                          I stand corrected on the floor level. I saw the sign and thought to myself that the second floor was the location and then thought the shopping cart to car issue would be horrid for those little baachans. Still - that intersection sucks and the lack of floor space is a significant compromise for those who are used to the selection at the Gardena warehouse - it should be called, "Marukai Express."

                                      2. re: mrshankly

                                        After seeing these reviews I don't think I will be going to the new location. Saving just 15 mins drive time doesn't seem worth it if they have as much stuff as the Gardena store. This isn't a membership store right? It's seems like the downtown location is a little lacking too and I thought it was because it is NOT a membership store.

                                        Thanks for the reports guys, saved me the trouble of checking it out myself :o)

                                        Well, I'm sure I'll try it at least once...

                                        1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                          I finally went to the new Marukai and thought it wasn't that bad. I'm sure that if everybody had raved about it then I would have been disappointed :o) For me, it's more of a place to shop for one or two meals, not to stock up on everything. I found it cramped as others have noted both inside the store and the parking area. The meat, produce & sashimi dept were small compared with the Gardena location, but I was pleasantly surprised that they were pretty stocked up with most everything.

                                          I will continue to drive the extra miles to Gardena when I need to stock up on a ton of stuff, but would probably go to the new location when I only need a few items.

                                          I just started a new blog of the stuff I cook at home. It shows some Japanese dishes that I have cooked with ingredients mostly bought from Marukai.

                                          http://myhomecookedmeals.blogspot.com/

                                           
                                          1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                            I was just talking to a couple of Nisei friends of mine who had just gotten back from the new store and they were saying how happy they were with this location (and they normally go to the Gardena store weekly) since they live over in the Little Osaka neighborhood. We still haven't been, but we will go sooner than later.

                                          2. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                            And they are a membership store. It's free for now, I forgot exactly what date they will start charging for membership.

                                            1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                              Stopped by last night: Membership stuff kicks in May 1st. $10 for one year membership, $15 for two year membership.

                                              1. re: thranduil

                                                Thran, how crowded was it when you went? I also went again on Sun afternoon and iit wasn't crowded at all! Now I'm afraid they may not survive. They have pretty much all the Japanese things you need, but produce section is so small that they can't even fit in regular red radishes.

                                                1. re: BombayUpWithaTwist

                                                  Both times in the evening, fairly empty - maybe at most 5-10 customers. I'm not sure who is all parked in their lots. My wife and I were discussing whether we thought they would even last for more than one year at this rate. We live closer to Marukai than Mitsuwa, and the added bonus is that we don't have to travel far to get all of our Hawaii-related foodstuff. We hope it lasts...

                                                  1. re: thranduil

                                                    I just got back from my first time there (Friday 4pm), and I was pleasantly surprised. I've driven by it every day but it seemed like it was going to be a nightmare just getting a parking space. At least at the time I went that wasn't the case. There were at least five empty parking spaces in the back (I don't know if there were more underground, but there was street parking too), everything looked really fresh, and there were no lines. I was in and out in fifteen minutes. Is it comparable to Gardena? No way. But neither are any of the other stores. I guess you could, as someone else said call it a Marukai Express, but the fact is that there's only one Gardena (which should be called Super Marukai), and anyone who shops at the others wouldn't think this was too bad. A lot of people have failed to mention that the Gardena Marukai is insane on the weekend, and the parking situation is often horrible at Mitsuwa and Nijiya, so if you're just going to pick up some typical stuff at one of those places you might as well get the best price, which is always at Marukai. As with everything in this city, eventually you probably need to learn when not to go. I already know that I'll never go back to Mitsuwa or Nijiya again. The products are the same, but often more than 50% cheaper.

                                                    1. re: la2tokyo

                                                      I've rarely had a problem finding parking at Nijiya, and I typically go on the weekend. We've found the underground parking is more than adequate. Mitsuwa is a totally different story though - the food court blows out the parking lot. Nijiya's quality and selection for their meats and seafood is unmatched by the other local two, as is their general inventory. But if you're after Island food, Marukai is pretty hard to beat...

                                          3. re: mrshankly

                                            I've never been to the Gardena store - give me an idea of what's missing. Some specifics. (see if it's worth the 30 minute drive to Gardena).

                                            1. re: foodiemahoodie

                                              The Gardena warehouse store on Artesia is kinda like a Japanese Costco for lack of a better description. It's a membership store, the prices are very good, and unlike Costco, the selection is broad. The store is quite large - the initial sections are made up of smaller store counters that sell various home items, Japanese remedies, appliances, books, etc. The main grocery section is deep with all sorts of groceries - dry goods, refrigerated, frozen, fresh meats, seafood, etc., etc., etc. The selection of inventory is deep and wide, and they have one of the better Hawaiian goods sections as well. You'd have very little left on your Japanese-y shopping list after shopping there.

                                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                                Thank Bulavinaka! I'm looking foward to it.

                                          4. Can anyone speak to dining options on-site?

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Ciao Bob

                                              I didn't see any dining options on site... heck, they barely have enough room to fit the checkout stands. But seriously, as stated above, this should be labeled a Marukai Express.

                                              And for those who haven't been to the Gardena store, you must go and indulge in a unique and often overwhelming shopping experience... at least once. Even if you're underwhelmed, there are a ton of great eats in the area to round out the trip.

                                              1. re: mrshankly

                                                Thanks for the report mrshankly. this is exactly how i feel about the marukai in little tokyo, why bother? the store isn't worth going to like the one's in gardena. i wish they'd find a spot in the valley or SGV. there's plenty of space over here!

                                                also keep in mind there's two locations in Gardena. one on Redondo Beach Blvd and the bigger one on Artesia Blvd. I like the home goods selection at the one on Artesia better but i enjoy the food court at the redondo beach blvd one even more.

                                                1. re: trolley

                                                  Also the Redondo Beach Blvd is NOT a membership Marukai, but the prices are better if you are a member. Great food court with a Shinsengumi and a Beard Papa. plus Mottainai Ramen and Vanille de Patisserie bakery are just outside.

                                                  1. re: trolley

                                                    wait there is a Marukai in the SGV but its in Covina

                                                    1. re: Johnny L

                                                      Johnny L- btw, went to the store in covina the other week and the place is down right depressing. I don't know if it's the nearly dead shopping center its in or just the town itself but i'd rather take a trip down to Gardena any day over the one in Covina. or even a trip to Sawtelle. at least there's some life over there...

                                              2. I plan to go -- but until I do I'm curious ...

                                                I get that the Pico Marukai is not the Gardena Marukai ... but how does the Pico Marukai compare to the Centinela Boulevard Mitsuwa ... which is probably only like two miles away?

                                                1. I still prefer the Gardena Marukai because it's larger and has better parking. I go to certain Japanese markets for specific items. For general stuff like rice, soy sauce etc., Marukai has the best prices. However, Nijiya is best for its prepared foods. It's pricier, but with better selection. Good sushi, bento, breads and Japanese sweets. I like Mitsuwa because it's a fun shopping experience and has a decent food court. They also have festival themes and good sales.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: meg3325

                                                    The salmon at Marukai is cheaper than the competition. But the salmon at Mitsuwa is better than both. I'd say significantly better.