Sunday, February 21, 2010

One Day at Mitsuwa 02-21-2010

Location: 595 River Road, Edgewater, NJ
Time: 2pm
People: RB and myself

Feelings: There are only two reasons I would cross the Hudson River: Newark Airport and Mitsuwa Market Place. If my plane miraculously landed on the Hudson, I would swim directly to Manhattan's West Side without looking back. (Sorry to all my friends in New Jersey.)

I usually head out to Jas Mart or Sunrise Japanese grocery stores in East Village at least once a week, but most of the times, they just don't stock up enough for my high maintenance needs. I often ask my mother to send me a lot of beauty products from Japan. It's a little expensive to pay for an $800 plane ticket to Japan to go shopping, but for just $3 ($6 for a round drip), you can conveniently catch Mitsuwa's shuttle bus from Port Authority Gate #51 and experience the wondrous adventure of mini Japan that is Mitsuwa.

Mitsuwa is a Japanese supermarket chain, and inside this mall they have pretty much anything Japanese you can imagine: grocery, rice cookers, alcohol, food court, books, DVDs, sweets, makeup, toys etc. It is a bit overwhelming to see everything I need and want in one place. I'm not sure how common it is, but it was chaotically crowded this Sunday afternoon.

We immediately fueled up on an Obanyaki ($1.50, thanks BLee for the recommendation) from the food court shop, "Oishinbo." It was crispy on the outside, soft and chewy in the middle layer, and An in the center was perfectly sweet. What a perfect little snack before the massive shopping experience.

The supermarket is a quite well stocked Japanese grocery, neatly and meticulously stocked! I missed my clean freak-OCD people (in US standard) of Japan! The line is straight, the smell is incredibly clean, and the produce is perfectly neat and organized.

After spending an hour or two shopping, we came back to the food court for lunch. This was not a relaxing time. Contrary to the organization of the supermarket, this was chaos: Crowds of people were either waiting for food or seats, people carrying trays of food, kids crying, parents yelling, and hungry people with frustrated faces and empty bellies. It was indeed the Japanese food apocalypse. We were dying to try the "ramen set" from Hokkaido's famous Santouka Ramen, but the line was just too long. RB waited in shorter lines for udon and tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) while I saved us a seat.

My Cold Ume (plum) Udon from "Sanuki Sandou" was traditional Sanuki/Kansai style with thick and chewy noodles and dashi broth. It was truly authentic udon--just the way I would eat in Osaka. RB ordered Niku Udon (with beef). It was delicious and authentic, but while he was lining up to get his tonkatsu, the noodles got overcooked and sadly lost their chewy al dente texture. If you want to line up at more than one place to get your food at this chaotic food court, cold noodles would be the way to go. The two udon dishes came out to be $15, so they were quite reasonable.

RB also enjoyed medium tonkatsu ($7.50) from "Katsuhana (not to be confused with Katsuhama in Midtown)." It was a good cut of Berkshire pork that was crispy and greasy but only in a good way. It came with a generous portion of shredded cabbage with a wedge of lemon to battle the greasiness in the belly. He also enjoyed the two different types of sauce.

I had a terrific time at Mitsuwa. I saved the $800 plane fee, saved time from explaining the exact mascara I need to my mother, and I got everything I needed from a very short trip. I wish they could open another store in Brooklyn...perhaps next to Ikea and Fairway?


K said...

I love Mitsuwa! And it's pretty much crowded every weekend...even weekdays it's not exactly a picnic. It's best to just grin and bear it- or go v. early, especially on weekends.

Buy Japanese Groceries said...

If your looking for great prices and discounts on all Asian grocery items and gourmet food related products, have it all. They offer a Japanese cuisine from rice and various noodles especially seafood which is abundant in this island nation, and sushi and sashimi are now popular worldwide.

ALev said...

We just went! So good. Ramen and Obanyaki were great!

Yosh. O said...

I can't wait for Mgru's report... is she going to write about it?