All About Japan

Get 5 Traditional Japanese Ingredients in NYC

Japanese Food Shopping Ichiju-Sansai

New York City has a few great Japanese supermarkets that offer a variety of products that might once have required a trip to Tokyo to get a hold of! Check out these top five traditional Japanese foods that are readily available in the Big Apple.

The demand for Japanese food in the Empire State has created a market for a number of high-quality Japanese supermarkets that import food directly from the home country. Sunrise Mart, which has three locations in Manhattan and delivers to parts of Queens and Brooklyn (as well as Manhattan) is a local favorite because of its broad assortment and relatively reasonable prices. Almost any Japanese ingredient you can think of can be found here, as well as a solid selection of cosmetic and various other supplies. It's essentially a huge Japanese combini (convenience store) on steroids transplanted to America.

5. Mentaiko

As well as sushi-grade raw fish, mentaiko (spiced roe of pollock and cod) is also available in the city at Sunrise Mart. Mentaiko can be used in many dishes, but is especially popular on pasta. This can be almost impossible to find outside of Japan, but is now readily available in the Big Apple.

4. Barbecued Freshwater Eel

Pre-cooked and pre-seasoned barbecued freshwater eel, used in unagi-don and various other dishes, is a true Japanese delicacy. If you've already gotten your hands on some freshwater eel and a barbecue, Sunrise Mart also stocks the secret sauce that's traditionally drizzled on the dish.

3. Natto

The texture of these fermented soybeans, as well as their smell, can make this dish an acquired taste to say the least—which may explain why natto is almost nonexistent in traditional American supermarkets. Traditionally served over rice for breakfast but also eaten at any time of the day, natto has gained popularity recently because of the alleged health benefits of eating fermented foods.

2. Spices!

Any chef can tell you that spices are the key to creating authentic ethnic meals. Sunrise Mart stocks every Japanese spice imaginable from curry mixes to authentic seasonings. Cooking with these spices from Japan can truly take your culinary skills to the next level. Some pantry essentials for Japanese home cooking include shichimi (seven-flavor spice), ra-yu (Chinese or Japanese chili oil), and if you're feeling adventurous, yuzu kosho (a paste made from chili peppers, yuzu citrus peel and salt). And of course, wasabi!

1. Daifuku

Daifuku is a sweet mochi (pounded glutinous rice) cake with various fillings including red bean, cream or even strawberry, and it can give Japanese people in the city a sweet taste of home. If mochi isn't your favorite, fear not, because there are aisles stocked with all kinds of Japanese sweets that some people are known to fill suitcases with during trips to Japan. Even Green Tea Kit Kats are available Stateside in this Japanese supermarket!