As amazing as food in Japan is, all too often we find ourselves drawn to the comfort foods we grew up with (in my case, boxed mac and cheese). It can be hard for internationals to track down these foods in Tokyo, but this list covers all the biggest and best supermarkets for finding food from wherever you call home, whether it be the Americas, Europe, Australia, or Asia.
1. National Azabu: Hub for European and American Food
Location: 4 Chome-5-2 Minamiazabu, Minato City, Tokyo 106-0047
Clustered around the Hiroo and Azabu stations are a collection of international grocery stores, French bakeries, and Italian cafes. The National Azabu is the highlight of this area, a large supermarket that is a staple of Tokyo’s ex-pat community. This supermarket is full of familiar foreign brands. However, expect to pay for the convenience. Since the imports are far more expensive than they would be at home, it is all too easy to overspend.
2. Seijo-Ishii: Upscale European Staples
Location: Multiple locations around Tokyo
Seijo-Ishii is a fashionable chain supermarket, and in Tokyo, fashionable often means European. So, although the supermarket is not targeted at internationals, you can find many popular foreign products, especially European, including a drool-worthy selection of foreign meat and cheeses. Beyond imports, the store also stocks Japan-made foreign foods (like fresh cheese) and high-quality Japanese foods (Japanese pickles, etc.) Seijo-Ishii is even more expensive than a normal import store since it is so upscale, but the quality is worth it.
3. Costco: Bulk Bounty
Location: Multiple Locations around Tokyo
If you have a membership, Costco supplies some of the cheapest International food in Tokyo. As all the food is sold in bulk, it’s the perfect store for large international families who want a taste of home. You’ll likely need a car, (especially if you plan on buying in bulk), as it is not easily accessible by train.
4. Kaldi Coffee Farm: Foreign Pantry Foodstuffs
Location: Multiple locations around Tokyo
Kaldi has sections for Mexican (well, Tex-Mex), Thai and Vietnamese sauces, staples, and spices. You can also get foreign pantry staples like oats, beans, lentils, and other dried or canned legumes and grains not easily found in a country like Japan where rice is the normal answer to everything.
5. Nissin World Delicatessen: Supermarket with Great Import Selection
Location: 2-chōme-32-13 Higashiazabu, Minato City, Tokyo
Nissin World has all the fresh food of a normal supermarket, but its international section stocks many imported foreign brands, mainly European and American.
6. Nasco Halal Food: Halal Meat and Spices
Location: Tokyo branch: 104, 2-9-3 Hyakunincho and 101, 2-10-8 Hyakunincho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-0073
Nasco sells only halal meat, from cows they purchase and process themselves, which guarantees that it’s 100% halal. They also have a large number of Indian spices and other imported halal foods.
7. Kinokuniya: Cozy Bakery and Imported Snacks
This small chain has a French bakery with delicious baguettes made daily. Their store carries a selection of foreign items including marmite and lots of types of cheese (a rare find in Tokyo, where most stores carry a suspicious substance labeled only “chizu”).
8. Nikko Asia Shokuhin: Taiwanese Imports
Location: 2-4F, 1-37-12 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo
This store covers several floors and all kinds of Taiwanese imports. It has a large selection of produce (like wild rice and Chinese chives), as well as a large selection of Taiwanese seasonings. Finally, the deli section has lots of delicious pre-prepared Taiwanese foods, like pig trotters, dumplings, dim sum, etc.
9. Asia Super Store: Thai Ingredients and Products
Location: Chaleur-Shinjuku Bldg. 2F, 1-8-2 Okubo Shinjuku-ku Tokyo 169-0072
This is the place to go in Tokyo if you’re planning on cooking Thai food. The store stocks all the ingredients you need to cook your favorite Thai restaurant staples at home, with sauces and spices that are almost impossible to find at normal supermarkets (for example, fish sauce and tamarind paste). Beyond food, the store also has a range of Thai products like soap and toothpaste.
10. Ambika: Reasonably Priced Indian Staples
Location: 3-19-2 Kuramae, Taito, Tokyo
For ghee, seasonal Indian vegetables, fresh herbs, or spices; this is the place to head. The store is especially vegetarian-friendly, with a large array of beans and lentils at prices far cheaper than other specialty import stores like Kaldi.
11. Kankokuhiroba: Korean Snacks And More
Location: 2-31-11, Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-0021, Japan
This store offers fresh kimchi, far better than the prepackaged type you can find at normal stores, and in far greater variety. The store also stocks over 2000 imports straight from Korea, including fresh produce, seafood, and trendy Korean snacks like honey butter chips and spicy instant noodles.
Bonus: iHerb: Foreign Health Products Online
If you’re missing foreign-brand supplements or health foods, then iHerb has you covered. Often, it can be hard to find the health products or personal care products you are used to, here in Japan. Everyone’s needs are different, so sometimes the Japanese equivalent doesn’t work as well, or there might not be any Japanese equivalent at all. This website stocks easily transportable foreign-brand vitamins, shampoos, makeup, etc.