Yes, the Japanese have a supermarket called FOO:Dmagazine (Foodie Magazine), an upscale grocery store in the massive SEIYU chain. I’m not going to lie to you: I love grocery stores. When I go I need to visit every aisle, I look at tons of items, I buy way more than I need because I don’t go to grocery stores often, living downtown… and hey, that’s why they’re called “non-perishables” anyway, right?

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All photos taken with an Olympus PEN EL-1 digital camera.

Just inside the front door is the produce section, which makes it… well, just like home really. Admittedly some of the produce is a little different, and differently priced.

85 yen (about a buck) for an Orange? That’s not too crazy. And $3-$4 for a bag of kiwis? Reasonable enough I guess.

Although the apples range between $1.30 and $4.50 a pop here. Still, not the most expensive apples I’ve saw on this last trip. I think the most expensive single apple was $10. :)

Or an anemic little basket of Strawberries for 12 bucks. Actually, these looked gorgeous, like illustrations of strawberries…

Or a tiny bunch of grapes for about $10 (Green, Seedless) or $8 (Red).

Bread? Not too bad, about 3 times what it would cost at home. But here’s a neat thing! The bread is 88 yen (about a buck-ten) for bread, whether you want to buy 4, 6, or 8 slices. Because the amount of bread is the same, it’s just sliced at different thicknesses! ¬†And yeah, the four-slicers are ridiculously thick pieces of bread.

Click to keep reading:

Speaking of which, in addition to the white bread, this supermarket had a full bakery on site. Everything looks really good, but more often than not they’re bizarre, filled with hot dogs and/or mayonnaise.

These Halloween themed cookies were adorable though…! That’s one of the things I love about Japan, importing western traditions in bizarre ways, like making adorable skull-cookies for children.

Juice!

One of the very cool things about Japanese supermarkets is the ready availability of take-out meals. A lot of supermarkets have started to sort of figure that out here, but the quality of the ready-to-go stuff in North America leaves a hell of a lot to be desired, comparatively. Here you can see a ton of sides and mains, skewers and other goodies.

An assortment of crisp, delicious deep-fried goodies.

This is Chicken Karage on a stick. It is embarassing, but I think this might be my favourite Japanese food–fried chicken on a stick. Gomen nasai!

And of course, sushi. That package of surprisingly fresh and delicious sushi is about $11, marked down by 20% because it was getting to be the end of the day. It looked amazing.

Complete bento boxes were also available, with tonkatsu or fish or stir fry, plus rice and pickles. All for about 5 bucks. I know the idea is that it’s really expensive to eat in Japan, but with a bit of work you can get by on $15 a day. Admittedly that won’t be the absolute healthiest, but it’s better for you than McDonald’s :).

Of course, I probably spent in the neighbourhood of $15 a day just on vending machines…

I can’t stand V8 or any North American vegetable cocktail I’ve tried, but the Ito En veggie cocktails and juice mixes are AWESOME. 2 servings of veggies in a glass and delicious? Don’t mind if I do. I wish it was so easy in Canada…

Speaking of. Canada, represent!

Ah, so here’s the greatest thing ever. No, not Asahi beer.

It’s alcoholism in a bag! A bottle of whiskey, a bottle of soda, and a single glass, in a convenient reinforced plastic bag. For 1280 yen, or about $15. This is quite possibly the greatest thing of all time.

I may duplicate this as a gift for someone for Christmas this year.

From the tragically unhealthy to the extremely healthy (this was on the second-floor of the grocery store, btw. They kept the veggies and fruits on separate floors(!). But anyway, if you wanted to see what everything cost, I uploaded the full (6mb) version of this photo, so click on it to see it insanely large.

MEAT! Near as I could tell, they had everything you might find in a Canadian grocery store, including ground turkey and chicken (which I can NEVER find around here…), steaks, all of it. Not as well stocked as your local butcher, but still heartening to know that if I moved to Japan, I could still make a batch of Hamburger Helper with turkey subbed in, in a pinch.

Ready-sliced beef, all set up for delicious shabu-shabu…

Sashimi? Lots and lots of Tuna Sashimi. For like $7.50. I mean, that’s obscene, and probably the most delicious thing of all time.

Milk!

Stocking the shelves…

Candy!

Noodles!

…! No idea! Seriously, I have no idea what a “Pet Sheet” is. Or why you would need 50 of them at a time? I am not a pet person, but Andrew and I both found this disturbing, for some reason.

It’s my understanding that Breakfast Cereal is a relatively recent thing in Japan? Breakfast as a meal isn’t as big a deal in Japan as it is in North America, and the idea of eating a whole bowl of grains–that aren’t rice–to get your day started? With Milk? Kind of Alien. Still, this is a high-class market, so they’ve got all kinds of cereals.

Like…

Frosted Flakes…! For some reason called “Frosties” in Japan. Probably the difficulty with the FR FL sound? And…

And my favourite, Special K Red Berries! Near as I could tell they didn’t even have _regular_ Special K? Just my favourite cereal of all time!

We turned the corner on the various types of grains, and then headed downstairs…

…and back to the booze area! Wine, beer, spirits and more!

A selection of chilled sparkling wines, Chu-Hi, and beer.

A close up on some cocktails and cocktail mixers. The mixers still have booze in them of course, but they encourage you to add more.

And these are some of the things you mix them with! The juice-carton looking things on the bottom shelf are largely Shochu, a distilled rice liquor, and the glass bottles towards the top are generally sake.

So on the right, that’s the One Cup sake, for when you need to drink on the run. But on the left there, that’s the 1.5 cup sake, when a single cup of sake won’t do.

This is why there are a lot of drunken, vomitting people in Tokyo at night, btw.

If you like light-coloured, crisp beers, then the beer selection was fantastic. If you don’t, then you probably should not move to Japan.

Shochu is a kind of a harsh, burning alcohol, so it’s usually mixed with tea, fruit juice or calpis, and ice. This is called a shochu highball, or a chu-hi (particularly when it’s in a can). These are lovely, refreshing carbonated drinks. My fav is probably the sparkling lemon, but the sweeter fruit-flavoured ones are great too. This Suntory Peach Chu-hi was delicious.

More expensive tastes? They had you covered with a bottle of Moet or Veuve. Speaking of which, if you are ever looking to get me a gift I prefer pink Moet Chandon to the regular.

And a selection of liqueurs and spirits. They didn’t have Tanqueray, which disappointed me, but they did at least have Bombay (just off camera) so I guess I can still make a decent Gin & Tonic. Too bad the limes were like $7 each.

Kidding, they were only $2.

And all that drinking will make you hungry, so why not pick up a delicious snack like CHEESE? Located directly next to the beer.

Boursin is only like a buck more expensive in Japan than it is in Canada. And apparently very, very popular.

Unfortunately most of the cheese available was of the processed variety, though there we a couple of little chunks of different kinds. Actually, the cheese selection was really weak compared to the awesome cheese selection at the specialty-market we visited earlier in the day.

So yeah, you can get good cheese in Japan. It’s just hard to find and crazy expensive.

But you can always buy enough Tuna sashimi to feed a family of 4 for the same price as a Value Meal.

Speaking of snacks, check out the selection of import goods to keep the Aussies and Brits happy! Tim Tam cookies! Weirdo sour candies!

I was really hoping for more interesting Pringles flavours for you, but it’s the same flavours that they’ve had for the last 3 or 4 years since I’ve been visiting. I’m very disappointed in you, Mr. Pringle.

And with that, we made our purchases and stepped out into the rainy grey evening. Actually, it was really dark when I took this picture, the Olympus PEN EL1 digital camera is AMAZING.

Thanks for reading! There’s still one more post that’s a part of this trip to Roppongi, the Mori Art Museum! I’m just doing a bit of research on the artists whose work I saw… and photographed… so I can give you more background info with the post. Hopefully I’ll have another post up really soon!

- Christopher


6 Comments on “Japan 2010: Roppongi Hills Part Two – The Supermarket”

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  1. Peter S says:

    They’ve been called “Frosties” in Europe for as long as I can remember.

    Those skull cookies are the BEST

  2. Greg McElhatton says:

    If I had to make a guess, I’d say “Pet Sheets” are probably moisture/odor-absorbing sheets for paper-trained dogs to pee on. Slightly better than putting down newspaper.

  3. Elin Winkler says:

    I agree with Greg- the pet sheets are basically pee pads for dogs. They have a plastic backing so the pee won’t soak through onto the floor, and an absorbent dry-weave top layer. We had to use them when our late cat had diabetes, because he couldn’t always make it to the litter box in time. So yeah, you need 50 at once! Loved this post, I am a fan of grocery stores as well. I can spend hours in them.

  4. Camui says:

    In my understanding, cereal has always been something for little kids (in Japan). The adults don’t generally go OOH WANT and eat it unless they have kids.

  5. Bitter Matt says:

    This was a great post! I second (third?) the awe at the skull cookies. Brilliant.

  6. William Flanagan says:

    88 yen for the loaves of bread is actually a very good price for Japan. I would have expected such an upscale supermarket to sell bread for the 130-yen-per-loaf range.

    I’m shocked that they had turkey. Turkey can’t be begged, borrowed, or stolen in my part of Japan. I want to shop there!

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