Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Window shopping at pricey Mitsuwa, stocking up at Korean markets

The belly meat of even farmed blue-fin tuna goes for $79.99 a pound at Mitsuwa Marketplace, the Japanese supermarket and food court in Edgewater. The portion shown here is only 1.6 ounces and costs $8. Meanwhile, store-made sushi rolls contained added sugar and some salad dressings I saw listed high-fructose corn syrup as an ingredient.
Wagyu Beef, named for a Japanese cattle breed, is heavily marbled with flavorful fat, and priced at $44.99 a pound.


On my rare visits to one of North Jersey's most expensive supermarkets, I buy cheap sake for cooking and a couple of over-sized cans of Japanese beer.

But I spend most of my time gawking at the ridiculously high prices Mitsuwa Marketplace shoppers pay for what is billed as premium fish and beef.

Anyone who thinks Whole Foods Market is expensive will get a reality check at Mitsuwa.

Over the years, I've splurged at this Japanese supermarket on ices delicately flavored with fruit and mackerel sushi rolls imported from Japan.

On Friday night, I picked up a 1.5-liter bottle of Yaegaki Sake brewed in California ($6.99), a 25-ounce can of Kirin Ichiban 100% malt beer ($2.99) and a 1-liter can of Asahi Super Dry ($3.49).

I briefly contemplated going to my favorite Japanese restaurant, Hiura on Main Street near Anderson Avenue in Fort Lee, with the giant can of Asahi, but then how would I drive home after consuming all that beer?

Mitsuwa Marketplace, 595 River Road, Edgewater; 201-941-9113. America Express credit cards aren't accepted. 

In contrast to Mitsuwa's prices for raw fish and meat, stands in the food court offer complete meals for under $10, above and below, and seating at tables with a view of the Hudson River and upper Manhattan.

Plastic representations of food-court meals look good enough to eat.

Shoppers at Mitsuwa Marketplace have the Hudson, but at H Mart in Little Ferry on Sunday, customers found a flooded parking lot entrance full of hidden potholes.

From the Hudson to the Hackensack

At the customer service counter of H Mart in Little Ferry, the young woman apologized for the flooded, potholed parking lot, but said the Korean supermarket chain has no plans to fix it until spring.

I've spoken to other customers who believe the shabby store, which occupies less than half of a large, otherwise empty building near the Hackensack River, will be torn down eventually.

Meanwhile, the store offers some of the best free samples on weekends, making lunch unnecessary.

On Sunday, I tried three or four kinds of fresh and dried fruit, a seafood pancake, cooked octopus slices, green tea noodles and fish cake in hot broth.

I picked up a box of Shin Ramyun, a spicy instant noodle soup, with 16 4.2-ounce portions for $9.99 with a store card, a savings of $7.

Two big heads of leafy baby mustard greens were on sale for 88 cents a pound (regularly $1.69 a pound).

H Mart, 260 Bergen Turnpike, Little Ferry; 201-814-0400.

Arirang Kimchi 

From H Mart in Little Ferry, I drove to Arirang Kimchi in Ridgefield, and purchased a 64-ounce bottle of Mahk or Cabbage Kimchi ($10).

Arirang is in the small H&Y Marketplace shopping center, where I picked up Marinated Tofu ($4.99) and Jun's Wild Sesame Tofu ($5), both made in that Korean supermarket.

Red bell peppers were on sale for 79 cents a pound.

H&Y Marketplace (Han Yang Mart), 1 Remsen Place, Ridgefield; 201-943-7100. Free food samples on weekends.

So Gong Dong, a popular soft-tofu restaurant where a complete meal costs $10, is on the second floor of this Broad Avenue building in Palisades Park. My final stop on Sunday afternoon was to pick up takeout for dinner.

Fruits of my Korean food odyssey at my front door on Sunday.

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