For expats living in Tokyo, a lot of times finding simple ingredients to cook seems more like a treasure hunt. With Kaldi being a staple and other high-end supermarkets starting to shift their interest towards imported goods, the original trendsetter in Japan was none other than Nissin World Delicatessen. The single store shop in Azabu Juban in Tokyo celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2016.
Upon entering the shop, the customer is entertained during the escalator ride by pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger (then governor of California) observing the goods of Nissin deli. The second floor offers a wide variety of wines, among which California wines are at a prominent position.
With Nissin deli starting as a deli meat provider, it is obvious that the store mascot would be none other than a pig – specifically a “good luck pig”. A mascot statue waits at a corner of the 2nd floor, hidden behind the wine racks.
Heading to the third floor, the customer is greeted by two golden plaques; one indicating devotion to customer satisfaction and most importantly one declaring that Nissin world deli is under the patronage of the Imperial family of Japan.
The third floor is home to where all magic happens. Tons of imported goods of any kind and category. Ranging from meat products, hams, spices to chocolate snacks and frozen goods, I feel that most of the world’s countries have a least one representative item here. Additionally, there are a lot of high-quality fruit and vegetables grown in Japan. I got a current seasonal fruit called “akebi”, with its characteristic purple skin and jelly-like sweet interior.
Imported goods are pricey by default so I ended up with an impressive bill. Nevertheless, since I wasn’t able to travel home due to covid19, I am only grateful for being able to get my hands on some Greek delicacies that haven’t touched in a while. I pretty much bought every Greek product that I could find, which amounts to: a can of choco cigars Papadopoulou, dry wine retsina Kourtaki, olive oil paste, pickled red peppers with cream cheese and feta Epiros. Next time, I might also try to get some ‘fyllo’ dough in order to prepare homemade baklava.
The only thought stuck in my head at the moment is that of the imperial household staff stocking up caprice papadopoulou. Since the imperial family is a patron of the shop, that is actually a valid possibility, right?