Supermarket stocked with ‘J-products’ attracts locals
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One of my favorite things about Japan is the food — whether at a restaurant or from a supermarket. So, I was excited to learn about a new Japanese grocery store in Honolulu.
J-Shop opened about a year ago in the Makiki area (1513 Young St., between Keeaumoku and Punahou streets), offering a variety of Japanese food items and specializing in fresh beef, fish and vegetables.
Owner and president Hideyoshi Takasawa has been in the importing business for 36 years — distributing to restaurants and businesses throughout Hawaii and on the Mainland — and decided to open a store featuring some of the products he brings in from Japan.
“The beef and fish is fresh, not frozen,” he explains. “We bring it in three times a week. There’s hamachi, red snapper, flounder and Japan akule. It’s all very high quality.”
The store also carries Japanese sauces and seasonings, salad dressings, tea, coffee, soba noodles, rice, azuki beans, unagi, salmon, sashimi, fishcake and much more.
In the vegetable section are Japanese mushrooms, eggplant, carrots, daikon and gobo. For meat, there’s fresh A5-grade Shizuoka Wagyu Beef; and for fruit, you’ll find Japan Kosui pears, aroma melons and more. There also is an area with stationery products, such as pens and magazines.
“It’s things you would find in Japan,” says Takasawa.
“The natto, we bring in by air. We also have tofu and soy milk made from Tokachi soybeans imported from Hokkaido. And St. Germain makes a sliced bread exclusively for us.”
There also is a restaurant conveniently located inside the store serving bentos that Takasawa notes are prepared with 95-percent Japan products.
Among the most popular is, of course, Wagyu Yakiniku Bento ($14.50) because of the famous Japanese Wagyu beef, which is known for its intense marbling, tenderness and rich flavor. The meat is seasoned with teriyaki sauce and served with nishime (Japanese vegetable stew), pumpkin, hijiki (sea vegetable) and rice.
For those who prefer fish, you’ll want to try Sashimi Bento ($9.75) consisting of ahi, hamachi and salmon, along with nishime, hijiki, gobo (burdock) and rice. Or, create your own bento from its counter of ready-made hot foods, such as a Deep Fried Sardine and Akule Set ($8.50) which also comes with nishime, hijiki and rice, as well as tofu.
“When we first opened, it was mostly Japanese customers, but now more locals are coming in, too,” says Takasawa. “Before, our signs were all in Japanese, so now we’re making signs in English, too.”
1513 Young St., Ste. 101 (between Keeaumoku and Punahou streets)
Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Closed Sunday