Imported food/beverage tips for LOCALS
Although I'm just dying to recommend a sushi place to random tourists, I wanted to ask if any one had ideas about where to buy food--bulk would be great to save ¥--that's harder to find (or totally overpriced) in regular Japanese grocery stores. Online or a physical store (in Tokyo) is great. I know Costco is an option, but I don't have a card. Rakuten?
To get the ball rolling, I found cases of SAN MARZANO tomatoes here: http://www.rakuten.co.jp/toscana/1778...
Thanks all you locals for your help! 日本語でもいい〜！
Not cost effective but themeatguy.com if I need a foreign cut of meat or Turkey.
Profoods has large packages of flour and baking items as well as cheeses and some herbs. Big selection of spices too.
Not at cheap but takashimaya is the only place in my neck of the woods for Brussels sprouts.
Ja markets for onions and potatos are the best deal.
I have used rakuten many times, it takes so searching but there are some nice things to be found.
Look for larger stores in the suburbs like Cainz, Joyful Honda, or OK, although you'll spend some yen getting there since they are usually not within or near the loop. After a year travel costs might be close to the cost of a costco card. Also how much is "bulk" - do you have a car?
Try FBC also.
I'm pretty open to finding most things that I miss from the US. Any kind of dairy--cheese, ricotta, buttermilk, etc... any kind of beans, tortilla chips, AP flour, baking SODA, craft beer, (reasonable) wine, the usual! I've been here 4 years and finally feel like my Japanese is good enough to start ordering online and exploring more. Hence the post...
Another tip to share: This guy makes good meat pies, shipped frozen to you:
I think the first thing to remember is that it's imported fancy food. (-: Those tortilla chips are like escargot in the US.
I don't know where you are at, but even rural cities in Hokkaido will have baking soda in the chain grocery stores. Sometimes it's stocked by the pickling section, and it's called "重層". Juusou, or you may have some luck calling it "tansan." The one I often buy comes in a blue box. If you want baking soda for cleaning needs instead of baking, you can get ahold of very large bags from a dairy supply store.
Department stores often have a foreign foods section that skews heavily to the snacks and the cookies, and sometimes tea and coffee. The wine and beer selections can be quite extensive, too, so it's worth a look. The big department store in my town stocks a lot of cheese.
Ricotta is fairly easy to make at home with a little vinegar.
FBC (Foreign Buyer's Club) is OK, and they do sell in bulk, but I've sometimes had problems with broken tortillas, and things that were very, very close to the expiration date.
I've ordered from the Flying Pig a couple of times, and people I know seem to really like them. They have dairy, baked goods, frozen food and various other things. They are connected to Costco somehow, but you don't need a card to buy stuff from them. http://www.theflyingpig.com/tfp/shop.asp Good place to get a turkey, and they might even sell you a smoker to cook it in.
Costco may be worth the price of the card. If you eat Pizza Hut pizza twice a year at full price, you'll make back your money by buying the Costco Pizza two times a year. See if you have any friends with a card -- they are allowed a couple of guests. Your friend will have to pay, but I'm sure you can make arrangements -- the cashier has been very kind and accommodating about the receipt when I've brought friends in.
In Sapporo, there's a Jupiter Foods in the basement of the Este Building right next to the JR Sapporo Station. They are a little pricey, but they've got beans, spices, and all sorts of fun things from all around the world. I haven't spent much time in their liquor annex, but I think it must be pretty good, too.
My, I do run on. There should be a JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) person near you, and they might let you in on their group -- the senpai there will know all the shopping secrets in your prefecture.