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Building a Japanese Pantry and Mizkan Shopping Guide http://rasamalaysia.com/building-japanese-pantry-mizkan-shopping-guide/
June 21st, 2011 42 Comments

Building a Japanese Pantry and Mizkan Shopping Guide

One of my favorite things to do is shopping, especially for food and ingredients that I use a daily basis to prepare all the mouthwatering dishes you see on Rasa Malaysia. I can spend hours walking the aisles of supermarkets, scouring the shelves looking for produce, sauces, spices, etc. Because of my focus in Asian cuisines, I tend to shop more at Asian supermarkets and specialty stores that carry Asian ingredients. Lucky for me, I live in Orange County, Southern California…the diversity here means that I can pretty much find any ingredients, be it fresh produce, imported goods, or hard-to-find items at the many food stores here.

I get many emails from my readers, many of them are very keen to try my recipes but have no idea where to shop for the ingredients called for in the recipes, for examples: salmon teriyaki, Japanese beef rolls, and hand roll (Temaki) recipes where Mizkan Japanese condiments are the key ingredients. So, today, I am taking you all shopping—albeit virtually—to my favorite food stores where you can get practically all Japanese ingredients. It’s going to be fun, let’s go…

Our first stop is Mitsuwa Marketplace, which is the largest Japanese supermarket in the United States. There are currently eight (8) stores here; the one I go to is at Costa Mesa, Orange County. I love Mitsuwa a lot—the store is always clean, and most importantly, you can find really fresh fish (sushi-grade fresh) and all kinds of Japanese products in that store. If you wish to stock a Japanese cooking pantry, go to the aisle where Shoyu (soy sauce) and Cooking Sake are. You will find the basics such as a variety of Japanese soy sauce, sake, mirin, rice vinegar, BBQ sauces, and more.

You can also find the complete range of Mizkan Japanese condiments at the same aisle: Mizkan AJIPON® Ponzu, Mizkan (Bonito Flavored) Soup Base, MIZKAN HONTERI® Mirin Seasoning, Mizkan Rice Vinegar, Mizkan Sushi Seasoning.

These Mizkan Japanese condiments can be used for a wide range of dishes in Japanese cooking. For cooking ideas, you can check out the Japanese recipes on Rasa Malaysia.

Other than the market, the Japanese food court inside Mitsuwa Marketplace beckons with stalls selling ramen, soba, udon, and bento boxes. There are also stores selling Japanese bakery, mochi, kitchenware, Japanese books and magazines. If you are a fan of Japanese food and culture, you ought to check it out.

Next, we are going to H-Mart, a Korean supermarket which has many stores in the United States, especially in the East Coast. There are four (4) of them in Southern California, one very close to where I live.

Even though H-Mart is a Korean store, you can find non-Korean products in the shop, for examples: Japanese, Chinese, and even Vietnamese food products. The first aisle is where you will find all the Asian sauces and seasonings. Unlike Mitsuwa, the sauces and condiments in H-Mart are grouped by types and not by brands. If you are looking for the complete line of Mizkan Japanese condiments, please check out the various sections of the aisle: the ponzu shelf, the mirin shelf, the rice vinegar shelf, and so on.

Here is a bottle of Mizkan AJIPON® Ponzu, which is great as a dipping sauce for gyoza, marinade, and pour-over sauce.

If you live in California or Hawaii, there is Marukai, a Japanese food specialty store that offers some of the best selections of Japanese products (I love the Japanese utensils and serving ware sold at Marukai!). You can also check out Nijiya Market. All in all though, it’s easier than ever to stock a pantry of Japanese ingredients. Retailers such as 99 Ranch Market, Uwajimaya, Chinese, and Korean stores usually carry a supply of Japanese food products. You might also find Japanese condiments at Vietnamese stores, case-in-point: the first picture of this post was shot at a Vietnamese market in Little Saigon, Orange County. If you live in a small city and have no idea where to shop for the ingredients, reach out to your local Japanese restaurants for help. I am quite certain that they will point you to a good source.

Once you find a store, always start at the condiments aisle and purchase the basics: soy sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, ponzu, and soup base. Then move on to the other aisles for other ingredients such as sushi rice, kombu (seaweed), bonito flakes, and the ingredients called for in the recipe. If you are an online shopper, you can buy Mizkan Japanese condiments online at AsianSupermarket365. The other online options are Marukai and Amazon.

You will soon realize that it’s rewarding to build a Japanese pantry. Have fun shopping for Japanese ingredients and happy cooking!

 

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42 comments... read them below or add one

  1. Anna says:

    I live just outside of Chicago and I’m lucky to have both H-Mart and Mitsuwa within a reasonable driving distance. I love H-Mart because it always has great produce at really good prices, though I do wish they got someone to organize the place. Yours looks so neat, but there’s really no logic to how mine is laid out and things move on me all the time. Makes for a fun and unpredictable trip :D

    • Hi Anna – thanks for your comment. The H-Mart in Irvine is new, about two years old. I agree that sometimes things are a little disorganized at H-Mart. As I mentioned in the articles, the products are arranged by types and not by brands. :)

  2. Ching says:

    Thanks Bee for putting together such a useful shopping guide. I’m starting to learn about Japanese cooking but feel confused when I shop at Japanese stores because I don’t know Japanese and there are so many brands on the shelves. This makes it so much easier for me to find the products now.

    • Ching – correct. I was very confused when I first started building a Japanese pantry. My Japanese friend took me shopping and explained everything to me, and that helped a lot. I hope this shopping guide will make shopping for Japanese ingredients a lot less intimidating for Japanese food lovers who wish to start cooking Japanese food at home. :)

  3. Allison says:

    I’m glad I live in NYC where there is abundance of specialty stores. Whichever dish I decide to cook, I’m usually 5-15 minutes away from a specialty store.

  4. How cool! I go to Nijiya most of the time but Mitsuwa in San Jose is a lot bigger. Thanks for introducing Japanese condiments encouraging more people to cook Japanese food! Whoo hoo!

  5. Fran says:

    Love big Asian stores. We have an HMart close by as well as a Lotte and when I go I end up with so many products I have no idea how to handle. They just look they’ll be fun to use in the kitchen and will result in amazing food. Usually that’s the case, but I still have a few things I am stumped by. One day I’ll get around to researching what to do with them. :)

    I’m going to have to look and see if we have a Mitsuwa in this area. Thanks for the tip!

    • Hi Fran, where are you based at? Yes, I think you will like Mitsuwa. The thing about Asian sauces is that you only really need the basics and you can use them to create a bunch of other sauces. :)

  6. joey says:

    This is making me hungry! I love food shopping to and can spend hours in the grocery looking at condiments. I also have a favorite grocery that has the best selection of Asian ingredients (Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, etc), but wow I can imagine the joy of a whole supermarket-full!!!

  7. Pris says:

    Oh wow. I’m amazed at the variety of Asian / Jap products they have in the U.S.!!!! I live in Stuttgart, Germany and I think that Europe as a whole has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to Asian imports. What a beautiful post, sooo nice to see so many photos of you!!…. Finally! And congrats on the launch of your cookbook! I would have gotten a copy in Singapore but came back 2 weeks before the launch of your book.

    • Hi Pris, thanks for your comments. Yes, we are spoiled here in the US. I checked out the stores in Sydney and still think that US has better variety of Asian goods. :)

  8. Patty says:

    Hi Bee, so great to see so many photos of you…you’re gorgeous. Good job on the Mizkan series, which I’ve been following, love your hand roll recipe, my 5-year old loves it. Thanks!

    • Thanks Patty, thanks for your sweet comment. *blush*
      I am so happy that your kid loves the temaki recipe, you did start him early on Japanese food, which is great. I will make Japanese food for my baby, too, when he gets bigger. :)

  9. It is still safe to buy Japanese food products now?

    You look great by the way. :)

  10. Hi Apple, yes, it’s absolutely safe to buy Mizkan products. Don’t worry and thanks for your sweet note.

  11. Alex says:

    You are even more gorgeous than your recipes!
    Thanks for this post about Japanese pantry!

  12. Ken says:

    Hi Bee, I bought Mizkan ponzu after reading about your recommendation. I love it, it’s definitely better than the other ones I had tried.

  13. Kara says:

    I’m German-American. I love Asian food but never shopped at Asian marts mostly because I feel intimidated, probably because I’m not familiar with the ingredients. Thanks for this guide. I might even check out this Asianmart near my apt…

  14. I live in the socal area but I do find H-Mart a bit on the pricier side… if you live in Garden Grove then there are a plethora of mom and pop supermarkets that are actually much cheaper

  15. NYMY says:

    I was hunting high and low here in NY for the products. Finally, a store assistant told me Nakano is produced by the same company.

  16. Walter says:

    Nice post, I too live in OC and that H Mart can be a hot mess on the weekends! Nice seafood selection though, have you tried Zion Market as well? I tend to lean towards Zion, a little more open. 99 Ranch isn’t too bad either. Great website and recipes, too many favs to list. btw going to Singapore for first time in October any recommendations of food / where to eat much appreciated! thx.

  17. Kristina Smith says:

    Hello. Do you have any tips for someone who lives in Indiana? I just read the comment about the H-Mart near Chicago. Might have to make that a bimonthly trip or something…
    We have one very tiny Asian Supermarket. I usually end up shopping online. Does your cookbook give the Japanese characters for the products?

  18. jojo says:

    Hi there! Where can i buy the mizkan cold noolde sauce in singapore?

  19. JC says:

    I am also into Japanese cooking, especially preparing bento sets for my nieces & nephews. I find looking for Japanese sauces a bit mind-boggling experience coz many of the sauces have their labels printed in Japanese. It makes it hard for the Japanese-illiterate me to understand what was labeled. :o(

  20. Natasha says:

    Is there any other name for Ponzu? I can’t find it in an online Germany Japanese Market (where I live). Ever since I started to read your blog, I have really wanted to buy a Mizkan Ponzu, but they don’t seem to sell it at http://ja-mart.de

    I hope you can help me in this. Thank you!

  21. Diulza Angelica dos Santos says:

    aqui no Brasil, temos o bairro japônes, onde podemos adquirir este produtos, amo seu blog ja fiz varias receitas bjs.

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