With every visit to Little Tokyo I never fail to stop by two Japanese grocers to stock up on uniquely Japanese goodies: my usual liter of Calpis milk and oversized cups of instant noodles from Nissin. In Little Tokyo there are two grocers that warrant attention the first is: Choto Stop or now known as Seikyo and Yamazaki Japanese Restaurant and Grocery.
While the two grocers are situated a few meters apart their offerings are nearly one and the same. In Yamazaki I found my usual Calpis milk (Php. 148) and the oversized cup noodles (Php. 98/each). Besides my usual items, the grocer also serves as a restaurant and today there was a flurry of activity. Orders were shouted over the usual hubbub as the smell of katsus and tempuras sizzled in the background.
Besides the usual items, we weren't there just for the treats, my brother was looking for a cheaper curry (kari) sauce we are planning to make for Easter lunch. Without finding a cheaper one we decided to move out of Yamazaki and head on to the former-Choto Stop (Mini Stop in English) and now-Seikyo grocer.
Inside Seikyo the environment is more relaxed, you won't find any shouting and food orders being served here, it's all grocery items. Unlike a typical grocer like Family Mart or 7-11, Seikyo takes grocers to a whole new level of food options. Divided into unclear parts, the excited connoisseur of Japanese cuisine and junk food would find himself lost among the rows and shelves of noodles, sweets, baking and cooking items, and desserts.
At the very least a first time visitor to Seikyo would look for Nissin cup noodles, but for the more experienced or at least the adventurous type there are dozens of flavors to choose from. It's best when buying these instant noodles to have a friend familiar with the language or at least have a handy dictionary on hand.
Then there are the sweets, shelves from top to bottom catering to whatever sweet tooth you have. If our local 7-11's and Ministop's have one or two flavors of the Japanese pretzel Pocky, Seikyo has about 4 of them plus some more. Rice crackers, rice treats, candy coated somethings and truffles, there was just too much going on.
I could ramble on and on about Seikyo and Yamazaki but it wouldn't do justice to the whole experience of being inside. At the very least entering a Japanese grocer would be overwhelming because of the numerous choices but as the whole shock and awe dies down excitement takes over.
My name is Alfonso your nerdy history teacher, bookworm and lover of all things cultural and exciting. You can find me in a weekend market, in a bookshop, or eating in Japanese restos during the weekends.