Hot peppers in Tokyo?
Has anyone come across a store that sells fresh jalapeños, habaneros, or other hot peppers? Or alternatively does anyone know where one could purchase seeds for growing these types of peppers?
In the four months we've been living in Tokyo, I've yet to come across a fresh jalapeño. Have checked out Nissin, as well as our local grocery stores. This weekend, we ate at a "Mexican" place called La Casita near Ebisu and for four hundred yen, we ordered a tiny habanero in oil to add spice to our otherwise bland dishes, which makes me think habs are hard to come by...
This is the wrong season for fresh hot peppers, but they are available in Japan. Online, check out the following link for starters. All of the fresh peppers are out of stock at the moment, however. Info in Japanese.
I've seen fresh habaneros in my local supermarket in late summer, and all kinds of unusual hot peppers in a local farmers market, also during the summer. They're mostly grown in Japan by contract with a restaurant or food manufacturer (loads of habanero potato chips and other snacks of late). You can sometimes get lucky at "Michi no Eki" locations, at which individual farmers cart in their wares each morning. But again, during the summer.
If you like the regular thin hot peppers used in Chinese cooking, usually sold dried at the store, just let me know and I could send you a couple hundred from my garden in September!
If Thai chili-birds are OK, you can get bags of them (frozen, maybe some fresh, but mostly frozen) at the Asian wet-market type of place in Ameyoko-cho (aka Ameya-yoko-cho). I can't remember if they had fresh jalapenos, but I don't recall ever seeing habaneros there (very different, but I did find plantains there, too!).
I actually resorted to using dried jalapenos ordered from Penzey's in the US. I mostly just used it in pico de gallo, and I just made sure to let it sit in the juices of the chopped tomatoes so they could rehydrate. They still had a bit of a punch to them.
For fresh jalapenos, you could also try National Azabu if you haven't already.