shopping

Konbini in the U.S.? Why not?

As anyone who has been to Japan knows, Japanese convenience stores, aka konbini, are nothing like convenience stores elsewhere. Insted of being rather sad places with ersatz food and overpriced groceries, they are like small fun palaces for foodies with loads of interesting goodies, many services, and so on. It’s a very competitive area of retail.

Seven Eleven recently made a splash by making over 12 of its stores (11 in the U.S., one in Canada) to Kwik-E Marts a la The Simpsons. Here’s a list of all the U.S. remade stores; the Canadian one is in Vancouver. Judging from the photos of one of them, the attention to detail is terrific. As a matter of fact, it’s about as much as is lavished on a typical konbini in Japan. Seven Eleven Japan actually owns Seven Eleven U.S. (there was an NHK docudrama a while back that showed how this happened…it was quite dramatic in a payback kind of way, since originally Seven Eleven had rejected the Japanese request for franchise rights.) Anyway, they recently announced that they are planning to spend $2.4 billion in a big U.S. expansion. I can’t help but wonder if they’d make at least some of those new stores konbini-like in terms of selection, attention to detail, and just the ‘fun’ factor. I’m sure that Americans would love it.

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I have seen the peanut brittle light, and it shines from Virginia

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One of the (many) food obsessions I have is nut brittles. Peanut brittle, macademia nut brittle, almond brittle (which, when pulverized, turns into praline). I love that combination of caramel and nut flavor. Peanut brittle is the most handy kind to get a hold of, and make. I make it as often as my teeth and waistline allow.

But, I realized yesterday that I have never had truly good peanut brittle. continue reading...

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Okonomiyaki ingredients sale (UK/Europe only)

Update: Want to make okonomiyaki from scratch? Try this detailed recipe! continue reading...

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A typical Swiss farm shop (Food Destinations #5)

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For Food Destinations No. 5, the theme of which is “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”, our first inclination was to pick a restaurant we go to often. But while we have some favorites, we don’t really go to any one restaurant more than once or twice a month on average, since we like variety when eating out. On the other hand, there are a couple of food stores that we shop in almost every day, where they truly know our names. One of our favorite haunts is our very typically Swiss local farm shop in the suburbs of Zürich. continue reading...

A dozen Japanese herbs and vegetables to grow

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I am finally getting around to sowing some seeds for the vegetable garden. I really should have sown some things earlier, but I figure it’s not too late yet.

If you are planning a vegetable garden, or even a few pots on your windowsill, and want to introduce some Japanese flavors, here’s a list of some herbs and vegetables to consider growing, in order of importance and ease of growing in a temperate climate. (That’s one with real winters…at least, before global warming.) The ones marked with an *asterisk can be grown in pots. A couple of my favorite seed sources are listed at the bottom. continue reading...

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A tofu making kit on eBay

A question I get asked a lot is where to find the stainless steel tofu mold/press shown in action in my tofu making article. While I don’t have a ready online source for something like that yet, I have seen plastic molds, which should be just as handy.

For example here’s one sold as part of a tofu press kit on eBay. You can also search on “tofu kit” on eBay for other results.

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Tips for shopping for Japanese books and magazines

Since there seems to be interest in Japanese cookbook reviews, I will be posting some here periodically!

The question is, where is the best place to shop for Japanese books, magazines, DVDs and such? If you have a Japanese bookstore near you, that’s the best place. One tip for buying magazines: the most recent issue of any magazine has been airmailed to the store, so the price you’ll be charged is for the cost of the magazine plus that airmail cost. However, if there are any issues left after a month, the stores may sell them for a discount. (Kinokuniya in New York and San Francisco both do this.) Since most food magazines are not that timely, this works out well.

If you don’t have a Japanese bookstore near you, the two biggest and most user-friendly online bookstores for Japanese language material are Yes Asia and Amazon Japan. I’ve bought stuff from both, and in terms of customer service and so on both are pretty good. continue reading...

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Shopping @ Just Hungry

When you shop via the Just Hungry affiliate stores, you help to support the site while getting stuff you want! It’s a win-win situation! continue reading...

The Flying Spaghetti Monster!

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Not quite edible, but how can one resist an animated paper model of that august diety, The Flying Spaghetti Monster? This is the newest paper model by Rob Ives of Flying Pig, a UK company that makes paper animation and other fun paper model kits. This one is available for download/purchase. I have a few of their models and they are a bit fiddly to make, but once they’re done they make adorable accessories for around the desk or cubicle. (Just be sure you put them in a place where someone won’t sit on it…as happened to my Schoedinger’s Cat.) continue reading...

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Where I shop for Japanese/Asian ingredients in Zurich

I have always meant to post about this but haven't gotten around to it. This is not an in-depth report with pictures and everything, but just a quick post, since Julie asked :) If you don't live in the Zürich area go ahead and skip to other posts... continue reading...

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Food Destinations #4 roundup is up!

The roundup for Food Destinations #4: My Favorite Gourmet Shopping Spot is now up on Mango and Lime. Be sure to check it out for some great descriptions of mouthwatering stores. Food and shopping, a great combination!

Food Destinations 4: Schweizer Heimatwerk, Zurich

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Schweizer Heimatwerk store signThe theme of the fourth round of Food Destinations, hosted by Paula of Mango and Lime, is My Favorite Gourmet Gift Shopping Spot.

Impressions of England, strictly food-related

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tavistock_bobscafesign.jpgI am back from England. As is usual when I go there, in a food sense it was a mixed bag. On the positive side, I got to experience two real, unique - and very different - highlights in The Pudding Club and The Fat Duck.

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Food Destinations #3: Confiserie Sprüngli, Zürich

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[Update:] Now you can buy Sprüngli chocolates online to be shipped worldwide! See the Shop page for details. continue reading...

An education in olive oil

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Olive oil is so ubiquitous nowadays that you may not even think twice about it. But the world of olive oil goes so much deeper than you might imagine. It's not just about buying a bottle labeled Extra Virgin and trusting it's all good. continue reading...

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Food Destinations #2: My Local (Green)market roundup!

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fdshinybuttonsky.jpgI must confess something. I almost thought about changing the theme for this second round of Food Destinations, after receiving not a few emails saying things along the lines of "Great idea, but I've already talked enough about my local green/food/farmer's market".

Food Destinations #2: Lebensmittel Markt am Helvetiaplatz, Zurich, Switzerland

Everything looks so good

This is my entry for Food Destinations #2: My Local Market.

There are several fresh food markets in Zürich. I was actually going to talk about another one, but someone else had covered it already (as you'll see in the roundup!), so I decided to head to the market at Helvetiaplatz. continue reading...

The Refrigerator Buyer's Dilemma

subzero.jpg Ooh, baby. This is the Sub Zero Pro 48, aka Fridge Porn.

Our old refrigerator is dying.

It's about 15 years old, so I suppose it has a right to die. Still, it depresses me to think about it. On a list of indispensable appliances in the modern household, fridges have to be near the top. When it malfunctions, it's like your heart beating irregularly. It's really stressful. continue reading...

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Final New York notes

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Dim Sum

I understand that there are supposedly better-quality places for dim sum in New York nowadays, but those gringo-run and/or uptown restaurants require bothersome things like reservations, and personally, making reservations for dim sum just seems wrong. Waiting for a table at a garishly lit noisy restaurant with cafeteria atmosphere is part of the fun. Besides, what non-Chinese-run dim sum palace would serve stewed tripe? continue reading...

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New York food shopping fun: Trader Joe's

trader_joes.jpg OMG, the line... continue reading...

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New York food shopping fun: Japanese groceries

[Update:] See this more up-to-date and comprehensive listing of Japanese groceries and other related stores in the New York area.

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New York, New York - and where's the domestic olive oil?

My great plans for attacking the NYC food scene haven't gone that well, due to work and family commitments. I didn't make it to the Fancy Food Show after all (today is the last day but I had meetings...) So far my exploring has been limited to evening forays to local eateries, but since this is, after all, New York, that's no hardship at all. continue reading...

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links for 2006-06-30

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  • Wow why haven't I found this place before? Gorgeous, sleek kitchen equipment online store.
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Provence, Part 5: A Heavenly Boulangerie

Baguette au vin et rosette Baguette au vin et rosette from the village bakery in Montsegur-sur-Lauzon

I have a confession: I planned my vacation around a bakery. continue reading...

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Provence, Part 4: The Farmer's Market at Velleron

Marché Agricole Sign, Velleron, Provence, France

In my previous post in this series, I described my favorite regular Provence markets. I've saved the best for last however: the extraordinary Marché Agricole (farmer's market) at Velleron. continue reading...

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Provence, Part 3: To Marché, to Marché (2)

Olives Olives at a market stall in Grignan continue reading...

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Provence, Part 2: To Marché, to Marché; (1)

provence_marche1.jpg Nyons

In my previous post I described how I center my Provence travels around the glorious marchés. If you are fond of markets, there is really no other place I think of where you can indulge yourself as much as you can here. continue reading...

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Food Destinations: Zürich, Switzerland

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This is my entry for the Food Destinations event - a day late! continue reading...

New York roundup

I never finished my musings on food during my summer trip to England, and in the meantime I spent a month last November in the U.S., partly in New York. Before it totally disappears from memory, here is a brief roundup, from a foodie perspective of course.

Before we proceed, you should know that I am an ex-New Yorker, and had a fairly specific food agenda this time around, which included the following: continue reading...

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