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.
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!