Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Mitsuwa Marketplace

Before boarding our Seattle-bound flight, we went to fill our bellies up with some authentic Japanese food. Mom intended to go to Souplantation (yet again) but my brother was strongly against it. After a quick Urbanspoon search (or was it Yelp?), I discovered a popular, well-rated Japanese food court located inside a supermarket.

Despite the many Asian communities in Vancouver, we seem to be lacking true Japanese cuisine. I would pinpoint Denman Street as the area, that I know of, with the most Japanese eats. But I think this single food court packs more excitement than all of the Japanese food in Vancouver combined.

The food court is the first thing we encountered once stepping food into the building. There were so many people; all the seating and tables were occupied by Asians (there were some Caucasians too) gobbling down casual Japanese eats. My family immediately became a little bit too excited and ventured off in four different directions. 

Mifune inside Mitsuwa Marketplace
Luckily my dad managed to snag a table, and that's where we all met after ordering our own meals. Dad has been craving katsu for the longest time; he always asks where good katsu can be found. Vancouver doesn't even provide the amount of options that this one food court has. He came back happily with his katsu don, fried pork cutlet on rice. My brother got a bowl of ramen that came with a piece of tonkatsu. Both were around $6 or $7 from Mifune

Katsu Don from Mifune
There was an immense amount of rice in this bowl. My dad's usual portion would be a quarter of this; he managed to eat half. He had one minor complaint, and that was that the katsu had lost its crispiness after the egg and onions were added. I don't think this katsu matched up to his memory of the katsu he had in Japan, but it was still okay. I'm not sure why dad didn't purchase from Miyabi-Tei (the stall I purchased from) since their katsu don was cheaper and looked more appealing. 

Ramen & Tonkatsu from Mifune
My brother had no comments on his ramen, he's not much of a foodie. More like the garbage can or black-hole stomach. The ramen looked rather plain, but I can't speak for the flavour as I didn't try any. However his piece of tonkatsu was, and stayed very crispy.

Mifune on Urbanspoon

Miyabi-Tei inside Mitsuwa Marketplace

I love unagi, it's my default whenever I go to sushi restaurants. Unfortunately, unagi don is extremely over-priced in Vancouver. There is no way I am paying $13 for a bowl of white rice and a measly small piece of unagi. You can imagine my joy when I saw a bowl of unagi don plus egg cost only $7.50. -angelic voices- According to the constant stream of customers purchasing their lunches from Miyabi-Tei, it is one of the most popular spots in the food court. Their food looked the most appealing, there was a wide selection, and their prices are very reasonable,

Unatama Don from Miyabi-Tei ($7.50)
This bowl of unatama don was not nearly as large as my dad's katsu don, but still at least double what I should be eating for lunch. Emphasis on the should, because I ended up clearing the whole bowl. Oops, sorry diet! Wait..what diet? It's vacation time! There was a fair amount of juicy, thick, smooth eel and the egg was flavoured with a sweet sauce. There was a tad too much sauce which made the rice too wet to pick up with chopsticks. The egg was scrambled perfectly, very fluffy and just how I like it! The little side of edamame and picked daikon was a nice addition. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and left very full but very content. However, the miso soup had a strange taste to it and I didn't drink it. Although this unagi don was not as amazing as the one from Pioneer Saloon in Honolulu, it was still mighty tasty. If only I could bring a Japanese food stall back home.

Miyabi Tei on Urbanspoon

Santouka Ramen inside Mitsuwa Marketplace
My mom's lunch was the most expensive, and she thought $12 was just not as much of a steal as the rest of our lunches. She got a bowl of spicy ramen from Santouka Ramen. There is a ramen restaurant in Downtown Vancouver with the exact same name...I'm not 100% if it is the same company though.

Spicy Ramen combo from Santouka Ramen

After waiting in a long line up and retrieving her order, Mom slurped up those ramen noodles and really enjoyed the soup base. She said it was very flavourful from the pork bone and the spiciness added the perfect amount of flavour. The marinated egg was well received too. Even the hungriest person would be super full after eating this; that little bowl on the side is white rice with some seasonings. Mom was much to full of noodles to eat the rice so we packed it to go in my plastic container. This is why I always carry an empty container on all my food trips, it's very useful.

Santouka Ramen on Urbanspoon

Click below to see the best matcha drink on Earth and some sweets!

Yamamotoyama inside Mitsuwa Marketplace

I also picked up a matcha milkshake from Yamamotoyama (try saying that ten times fast!). They specialize in matcha green tea and it is extremely good. There was absolutely no wait for my drink. By the time she handed me my change, the drink was served. The service was so quick I was actually dumbfounded for a few seconds. I think the woman went into the back to tell the other employee what my order was before actually taking my payment. 

Matcha Milkshake from Yamamotoyama
This was the absolute most matcha-y product I have ever put into my mouth. It was pure bliss and I wish I could've shared it with my matcha-loving best friend. Heaven in a cup. It is lightly sweetened with organic agave nectar. The only minor complaint I have is that I wish the consistency was more thick. The large size and fantastic quality made this drink well worth my $3.25. This matcha milkshake is a must try!!

I couldn't bare to leave without a quick run through the supermarket. There were so many Japanese goods and groceries I could've spent all afternoon browsing through the unfamiliar imported products. My family bought a few goods to-go for dinner on the plane. My dad and brother left with some sushi and musubi (we're still reminiscing Hawaii) and I got some sweets. Duhh...

Hamada-Ya Bakery inside Mitsuwa Marketplace
Praising online reviews recommended the bakery just inside of the supermarket. I had a hard time deciding which item to get as they all looked and sounded delicious. Hamada-Ya Bakery had both sweet and savoury breads and pastries. Like how there are Chinese-style bakeries, the Japanese have their own flare on baked goods as well. Under time pressure, I made my decision and bought a sweet potato tart.

Sweet Potato Tart ($3.40) from Hamada-Ya Bakery

It was a very delicious tart~ The filling was creamy, smooth, and mildly sweet. The crust was a beautifully tender and biscuit-like pate brisee pastry. Black sesame seeds make for a very unique and contrasting adornment. I like everything about this tart. It was a hefty weight and large enough to actually be my dinner.

Mikawaya inside Mitsuwa Marketplace
I couldn't resist the Japanese confections from Mikawaya Japanese Pastries. They have several locations around Los Angeles and are famous for their mochi. The mochi were so big and plump, came in all different colours and flavours, and reminded me of Hawaii again. Evidently I love Hawaii. I really am a kid in a candy store when I'm around food. I bet the woman working there thought my ambivalence was a bit extreme. 

Yomogi Daifuku ($1.35) from Mikawaya
I chose to buy one daifuku, a large, filled mochi. At first I thought this one was green tea, but the lady informed me it was a green rice and told me "it's very good! One of our specials!" I never knew there was such thing as green rice. It was a very soft and chewy mochi, me love~ The red bean filling was slightly chunky, how I like it, and again just mildly sweet. The mochi itself had specks of darker green, which is apparently a Japanese herb. There was a very subtle flavour in the mochi. It's a very large sweet and quite filling from all that glutinous rice flour. I couldn't help myself and ended up eating the whole daifuku before even boarding the plane. My mom questioned me as to if I was actually full from eating the whole unagi rice. I swear I was! But desserts go in another stomach.

There were still sooooo many items I still wanted to try; Japanese-style curry, onomoiyaki, and Japanese cakes all looked so delicious! I highly recommend checking Mitsuwa Marketplace out. There are plenty of other customers running in and out so it's a well-known and visited place. The food court has some amazing cheap eats and the supermarket is a fun place to explore too. Many of the stalls have plastic models of their dishes, which are very helpful illustrations as to what you should expect. Underground parking is ample at this supermarket, and there is a security guard strolling around at all times. (Which is good, but bad, if you know what I mean.) If you are like us, driving from Anaheim to LAX Airport, the city of Torrance is along the way and Mitsuwa Marketplace is great place to grab some food!

Reviews on Yelp

Mitsuwa Marketplace on Urbanspoon

Love from Coconut Crumpet's Corner ♡

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