Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Japanese bento/ food/ kitchen supply stores

This is for self reference and also a guide to stores to visit.
Keep in mind that some of these items may be gone or replaced since this post was created years ago.
Warning: walls of text. You can search for these locations on Yelp if the address isn't listed.
*bento items are italicized*
Last Updated: Feb 14, 09

New York City

  • Twins 99cent Plus: *CLOSED*  fairly expensive, has a lot in stock though the aisles are cramped. Nothing there is 99 cents though. Has: Rice molds ($4), sandwich boxes, Lunch bags (large cloth zipper bags; $5 and plastic Shinkansen lunch bag; $3), kid sized bento boxes; $4, side dish containers; $4 , basic kitchen supplies; $2-14 (whisk, knives, pots and pans, cutting board), cake pans; $5, metal drink thermos; $20, large oshibori with cases; $6, Japanese snacks (pocky, yan yan, etc), small childrens' toys, chidrens' backpacks, bowls, disposable chopsticks, utensil sets; $4 (chopstick, fork, spoon) , DIY crafts, stationary, soap, lotion, chairs, rice containers, rice cookers, clocks, beauty supplies, Pingu bento box, Pingu kinchaku, V-Color tight bento boxes in 3 colors. On Grand St. b/w Mott St. and Mulberry St.
  • Japan Home Center: *CLOSED* Everything isn't very expensive and is usually around $2.50. Has: Mugs, bento boxes; $3-3.50, onigiri mold (available), side dish containers; $2.50, sushi mats, cooking utensils, laundry bags, coasters, stationary, pots, shelving, desktop organizing baskets and drawers, cd cases, slippers; $2.50 , bowls, sushi molds; $2.50 and $3, tamagoyaki pan ($10?), plastic measuring spoons; $2.50. On Elizabeth St. b/w Hester St. and Grand St. Recently, they have been stocking the good quality kind of frying pans and tamagoyaki pan that the Sunrise Mart in the East Village sells; $15. They also sell small V-Color boxes, V-Color utensil sets, and $5 insulated lunch bags (the shiny kind). Hello Kitty furoshiki; $2.50 and suribachi. Clickety Click bento boxes, putifresh utensil sets, pudding molds, and more rice molds.
  • Tokyo Market: Sells Japanese food and other things related. Has: instant soup mixes, condiments, Japanese snacks, furikake, miso paste, nori, cooking wines+vinegars, daifuku, dango, fresh sushi, sushi/soba plates, sake cup sets, mochiko, natto, noodles, gyoza, kamaboko+ other surimi products, tempura batter+panko, takoyaki batter mix, hot cake mix, Japanese beverages, inari, umeboshi, kampyo, sakura denbu, frozen takoyaki, yukimi daifuku. I've been here many times and I know what they sell now. Ask if there's something you're wondering that they sell. The kamaboko and the chikuwa here are cheap. The furikake's kinda expensive compared to where I usually buy it in Brooklyn unless u just wanna buy the onigiri mixes which are $3 i think. They also sell some organic stuff like wheat or frozen edamame. The shop owner there is Japanese and he's pretty helpful (but creeps me out when he stares too much). ;_;. On Mulberry St. b/w Canal and Bayard. BUT if you're willing to save a little more money, go to Sunrise Mart, which is about a half mile away.
  • Elizabeth Center (basement level): Almost all the stores here sell Japanese stuff, whether it be anime, Gundam models or Sanrio stationary but there's only one shop there that sells small oshibori cloths (2 for $1) , which is on the left side of the escalator when you walk down. The stuff there's pretty cheap; plushies, pillows, footrests, photo albums, phone straps, DIY accessories, jewelry, knitting needles, etc.  On Elizabeth St. b/w Canal... and yea ._.
  • Romantic: *CLOSED*  This store's been around, probably before I was born. They sell a ton of cute stationary stuff, cards, anime stuff, totes and handbags, giant plushies, notebooks, Hello Kitty bento boxes (lots!), utensil sets, chopsticks, lots of San-X and Sanrio stuff, cellphone straps, origami, pocket tissues, and wallets. Across the street and around the corner on Mott St. from Twins 99cent Plus.
  • Tic Tac Toe:  *CLOSED* A small vinyl collectibles and cafe run by Chinese people. The menu doesn't have that much food, but considering the amount of space they have, it's pretty good. The store looks bright and modern and they sell a lot of Japanese snacks. I've come here for a chicken yakisoba which was fairly good and was pretty damn big for $4.95. They also have a variety of teas that you can order. But I'm not the tea-drinking kind of person. They also have several kinds of shumai, edamame (o_o;; $2- go to Sunrise instead), takoyaki (gave me a stomach ache ;o;), onigiri, sandwiches, gyudon, and tempura/curry/chicken with rice. It's on Hester St. b/w Elizabeth St. and Mott St, so if you're in the area you should take a look around.
Brighton Beach:
  • Banzai 99cent Plus: *CLOSED*  A wonderful and inexpensive store with a lazy shopkeeper (never tells where anything is). So here's what they sell: plastic bento boxes;microwavable and non-microwavable(my sakura bento);$1.39-1.99 and 9.99, plastic mayo and soy sauce container sets; $.99-1.99, tamagoyaki pan; ;1.99, rice molds; $1.29-$1.99, side dish containers and sets; $.99-$14.99, basic kitchen supplies(cutting boards, pastry brush, knives, measuring cups, pot holders, sauce and spice organizers), disposable bento/sushi containers;$.99, pencil holders, candles, grill racks, kinchaku(one color and size only-see collection post from 6/2/07); $1.49, chopstick sets(with and without cases), rice paddles, Hello Kitty bags, side dish containers; $.99, chopsticks, forks, mayo/soysauce containers, paper(with wax coating) food dividers;$.99, and mini thermos, paper lanterns, slippers, beauty supplies, serving trays, bowls and Japanese snacks (at the counter).
  • Sunrise Mart: I've just found another favorite place to go to~! ^_^ Sunrise Mart is an authentic Japanese store run by Japanese people with pretty affordable and reasonable prices. The workers there are mostly youthful and they greet most customers that enter the store. Aside from prepackaged and frozen foods, they have fresh bentos, sushi, bread and more. This is the only place I know of where i can buy a takoyaki hot plate ($22.95 on the second level) but they also sell frozen takoyaki in the back freezer aisle. There's also a ton of Japanese snacks and drinks like Pocari Sweat and Pocky. They also sell some pretty neat fuzzy stickers of food. I don't remember too much of the pricing but I did buy a pack of 8 sauce and dressing containers with caps for $1.99 and frozen takoyaki for $3.99/3.95 ._. (forgot which one). The only bento containers that they have are the Zoijirushi thermos kind that are around $50 and 2 different guy bentos (black with chopsticks included). By the back of the store, there is a table with a lot of stuff on sale that are about to expire. Most of the stuff here is $.99. I managed to snag Pretz for 2 for $.98 a few months ago. Anpanman childrens' bento, 1 more black guy's bento with kinchaku and a female orange and white (bubbles?) bento. :U they sell $6 suribachi, but no surikogi ;o; but it's bigger (and better) than the one that MUJI sells.
  • MUJI: ok, well they do have Japanese kitchen items like their $8 suribachi (mortar [and pestle]). Everything else is expensive, but nice to look at anyways, in case you pass by the store. White compact and the slightly bigger bento box with not so pretty furoshiki sold separately. The boxes are $13 and $15 respectively and look pretty. (and they come with inner dividers!)
  • Kiteya: This store on Broome St is pretty cool to check out. They sell children's shirts, wooden geta, tote bags with traditional designs, phone straps, fabric, ornaments, furoshiki; $60 D: I must say, this place is pretty expensive, but nice to look at. The women who work there are really nice too.
  • Pearl River Mart: That's right, I just went there. I buy my mini bento chopsticks here, but didn't see the bento boxes in the basement until NOW. There's 2 or 3 different colored V-Color brand boxes, but with different shapes and covers that are wonderfully simplistic and cheap. They also sell the apple/cherry? and green grape putifresh boxes in the two tiered and tight boxes. All the boxes are under $3, so if you're looking for something cheap and long lasting, this is the place. On the ground level, they sell Joyce Chen brand sushi molds, chopsticks, etc which are a bit pricey, but in the same section, they sell fruit shaped ice packs for lunch that are... $8. Chopsticks are between 50 cents and $15? and the 50 cent ones are in the basement only.
East Village:
  • Sunrise Mart: Comparing this to the SoHo store, it's much more cluttered, prices are on the shelves and not on every item, the lighting is slightly dimmer, and the prices are jacked up at least 20 cents or so. But they do sell nice cookware and dishware. If you're looking for a big tamagoyaki pan for under $20 bucks, this is the place. They also stock a few items that Banzai has like their wire straining basket and mini suribachi(Japanese mortar). But here, the suribachi DO come with surikogi(pestle) and for a little more than $3. Their bento are less cutesy and extensive than the SoHo location, but they're the tight bento kind and are pretty sturdy and white (though I forget if SoHo stocks some of them too). They sell the red/blue ITADAKIMASU chopsticks for a bit pricier than Pearl River Mart, some cutesy bunny print and traditional Japanese print on other chopsticks. Their rice molds though, are CHEAP; under $2. There's the double onigiri, the 4 mini (star,heart,etc) mold, and the kind that you scoop the rice with the mold itself (has a handle) in flower and heart shape like this.
  • Panya: A pretty decent Japanese bakery. I've only bought the chestnut cream (mont blanc) but it tastes so good. Some of their better items that I hear of like the krokke were sold out, but I'll check next time. Their breads seem bigger in the actual bakery than the ones distributed to the Sunrise Marts. The location is a lot smaller than I expected it to be, but no matter. From other reviews from Yelp, the coffee isn't very sub par and their drinks are a bit pricey so keep that in mind. website here, complete with menu and prices.
  • Otafuku: Authentic Japapanese takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and yakisoba. The food is pretty good but it's a hole-in-the-wall type eatery so don't expect to find seating here.
  • Morning Glory:  *CLOSED* Bento boxes: $5-8, bento bands: $2, V-Color waterbottle:
    $3, Monokuro Boo furoshiki: $5. Basically, it's what you can get in Chinatown, only the price is a bit more. The rest of the stuff sold here: towel cakes, stationary, origami/pastel stars, totes, cell phone accessories, breakfast bowls. btw, the downstairs level has a lot of cute hats and hair accessories.
  • Han Ah Reum (H-mart): A Korean supermarket that stocks a lot of Japanese food. Come here for cheap kamaboko, pre-sliced sashimi, kimchee, umeboshi, snacks, and Mr. Bento.
  • Kinokuniya (Ave. of the Americas)/ across the st from Bryant Park: I seriously love this place. I could spend a whole day here without complaining. Read for several hours in the basement, then go to Cafe Zaiya, which is just up a flight on an escalator, and walk around that floor reading manga or whatever. Right next to the escalator, they sell summer yukata and geta... they're over $60, so I'm gonna stay away from them. But in the same section, they sell furoshiki! They're the traditional kind, so they should go well with something like a juubako or like in some of the pictures hanging around Kino, use it like a purse (add bamboo hoop handles). Oh and they also sell traditional juubako that are displayed in a glass case by the entrance. They're very pretty, but I don't think that many people want to pay so much for them. The basement level sells traditional furniture; $1000....
    One section I'll always hang out in is the basement; they have San-X stuff, but you'll find me by the recipe books, even if I can't make out half the words. They have some pretty recent bento books like Watashitachi no Obento and books for the calorie conscious. Monokuro Boo furoshiki and traditional Japanese print furoshiki (directly below basement stairs); around $10.
  • Kinokuniya (W49th st) *CLOSED*
    I bought the Japanese Family-Style Recipes book by Urakami Hiroko during their closing sale, which has a ton of recipes written in Japanese on one side and English translation on the other side. They point out in certain recipes, like the onigiri recipe, whether or not they are obento friendly and there are tips at the end of each recipe to help beginners. Color pictures in the front with handy conversion chart and index in the back; I seriously recommend this book. I got it half price, but with tax, it's still $9.10. It's worth the investment, especially at half price.
  • Minamoto Kitchoan: I didn't get to stay for that long, but it's a very pretty and Japanese style wagashi shop. They have blinding lighting to showcase each and every wagashi, from senbei to kasutera. Everything's over $2 a piece and like traditional wagashi shops, most of the wagashi are prepared fresh instore within several hours (for a ...40 piece box I think. I was standing next to a few people who were ordering urgently. alas, everything was too expensive and I left.
  • Cafe Zaiya: (41st st) Alas, this place must be heaven on earth; Fresh Beard Papa's cream puffs served everyday, as well as other bakery items on the other side of the cafe.
Flushing, Queens
  • Banzai99: Basically the same items as the Banzai that was in Brighton. They also have some pricey yukata in the upstairs level.
Edgewater, NJ
  • Mitsuwa Marketplace: Possibly the best place to find Japanese ingredients in the East Coast. The meat and fish are fresher than what you'd get at Sunrise Mart/Jas Mart/M2M/etc. The food court has a pretty good variety of food although after I've tried the katsudon here, I can say I wouldn't have it again- the meat was disappointing. There's a bakery here as well as a taiyaki/obanyaki/creamyaki stand which I do recommend. As well as I never really took the time to check out the bento here but in the next building there's Utsuwa no Yakata who sell juubako and Japanese dishware. Next to Utsuwa is Mars, which has a good variety of putifresh, sanrio, and rilakkuma bento although pricey. My friends also found a $27 taiyaki pan here.

More to update: The Daiso, Ichiban Kan (for all the cheap under $2 Japanese goodies~), Mitsuwa Marketplace (NJ) for Taiyaki,


Joy said...

Go to Korean town and you can get Furikake pretty cheap there... I think $2 per bottle... anyway, that's where I get mine :D

Hachiko said...

OMG bring me to Koreatown with you! I'll get lost if I go alone ._.

Anonymous said...

thank you so much for this list. this is exactly what i've been looking for. i even know the exact elizabeth center store you're talking about! and korea town is like 1 or 2 streets, you can't really get lost.. =P

☆Hachiko☆ said...

D: koreatown's that small? I haven't actually been there.
and you're welcome! ^__^

Yvo said...

WOW thanks!!! But... there's no Daiso or Ichiban Kan around here, is there?! =O

☆Hachiko☆ said...

;o; sadly, no. Daiso and Ichiban Kan are only in the southwestern states.

and you're welcome~!

Anonymous said...

Ichiban Kan is now online at ! :)

Erik said...

Anyone have a recommendation from these stores or similar where I can pick up chopsticks and their rests, large bamboo mats, various sized sushi boards (for serving)

☆Hachiko☆ said...

You can buy about all of those at Pearl River Mart except for the sushi boards. But you can hit Sur La Table for them in SoHo while they're still on sale atm!

Anonymous said...

Erik: There's a supermarket on Canal St. between mulberry st and mott st called Kam Man. They sell junk food as well as asian groceries but if you go downstairs they sell TONS of chopstick rests, cups, tea pots and tea supplies, bowls, plates and other Asian themed house/kitchen wares. No bento boxes though.

I'm checking that site almost everyday now for their new shipment that's delayed. =(

Thanks for the update! I was the anonymous poster up there.

Anonymous said...

This must be a million months late, but I'm looking around for shinkansen bags (coincidentally XD ) and I stumbled upon this blog and (coincidentally) I'm heading to Chinatown in June to visit my grandma. $3 sounds like a really good price, but from experience items that are priced that low at Twins99 cents Plus are really really really tiny because a lot of things there are over priced.

Since this is posted pretty late they might not carry the shinkansen bags anymore, but I was just wanted to know if you remembered what it looked like or how big it was. I'm not sure if I should get a shinkansen bento bag off of ebay for $10 tonight or wait to go to chinatown for the $3 bag. XD

☆Hachiko☆ said...

I haven't updated, but they no longer have the shinkansen bags at Twins99 cents store. ;w; sorry

Anonymous said...

D: D: D: D: Don't be sorry!! I asked really late anyway. ^_^;; Sorry for bothering you though~

Biggie @ Lunch in a Box said...

This is a great list! Any chance you'd like to add some of these stores and your comments to my new Bento Store Locator with Google Maps on Lunch in a Box? I could add a link back to this page on the descriptor if you like.

Joy said...

Hmm, you know, I've been searching for a collapsible sandwich bento box like this one...
but my mother refuses to pay for the five dollar shipping fee if she can get the box for a buck fifty... >> so, when you say "sandwich box" which you happen to have categorized under the Twins99centsstore, is it a collapsible one? I mean, that's really the main feature I'm looking for here.

Thanks! <3

☆Hachiko☆ said...

:x nah those aren't collapsible. Check out Banzai locations instead :P

Joy said...

Hee hee, I want to have plans to go to Mitsuwa Marketplace really soon!!! I've heard it's a great place... maybe I'll go with my old babysitters???

:D Thanks for the review. It's nice how you put so much effort into this stuff.

☆Hachiko☆ said...

OH OH you should go during an event; next ones this month are:
Kitchoan Mitarashi Dango Skewer
Inaho Mochi Sweets
Check their website for dates!
I went to the Hokkaido Fair event a few months ago and the food was freakin good x3

Joy said...

Thanks for the suggestion!!! <3


Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm visiting NYC I probably only have time to go to Mitsuwa or pick a few stores from the list. I really want to get cheap collapsible sandwich bento boxes (with the slits) and onigiri bento boxes although egg molds would be a plus. Do any of the stores in Manhattan have these items or should I just go to Mitsuwa?

Thanks so much for this list, btw!!! It's really helpful for visitors coming to NYC with limited time. :)

- Lian

☆Hachiko☆ said...

I haven't seen any stores in NY stocking egg molds the last time I checked. The collapsible sandwich boxes should be available at any of the Banzai99 locations and are fairly cheap @ Banzai(about $2). I have one that I've been using for 3 years from there.
If you lack time, mitsuwa would be nice to buy-everything-in-one-place although prices are slightly higher. I think I saw onigiri boxes somewhere although I forget where exactly :x

^^ I'm glad to see that this list has become of use though!

Anonymous said...

I am traveling to New York and i want to buy all those staff for prepare sushi...mold,lacquer sushi boatserving,etc. do you know where to go?? Canal St.?? maybe there is an area where I can find oriental things???

☆Hachiko☆ said...

Kam Man is perfect then! It's on Canal St between Mulberry St and Mott St. All the laquerware and sushi boats are in the basement as well as rice cookers and bento equipment. As for oriental if you're talking about souvenir-type items, you can go to Pearl River which is on Broadway between Broome St and Grand St. Pearl River also stocks sushi and Japanese kitchen items but for the price, I think Kam Man is cheaper.

:) happy sushimaking

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