Let's Go Shopping at Kyoto Supermarkets for Some Local Side Dishes!
The delicatessens from supermarkets in Kyoto are for those who want to try some Kyoto food while still saving some money during their trip. The deli offers authentic flavors of Kyoto at reasonable prices. Here are some of the osozai (side dishes) actually being sold in these supermarkets! A must-read for vacation rental or guesthouse users who intend to cook during their travels!
Sep 14 2017 (Dec 24 2019)
Look at the Wide Selection of Deli Dishes in Japanese Supermarkets!
The delicatessen section in Japanese supermarkets is known for its vast variety of products compared to other countries. Anyone who has seen it for the first time is sure to be fascinated at the broad assortment. The shelves are stocked with salads, pickles, sushi, pasta dishes, soba (buckwheat noodles), sandwiches, fried dishes, bento boxes, etc. Of the many delis available, what really demonstrates the unique flavors of Kyoto are the individually packed okazu or osozai (side dishes). Let's find out what kinds of osozai are being sold in Kyoto!
Dashimaki Tamago (Rolled Omelette With Dashi)
The first one is Dashimaki Tamago, which is usually sold year-round at most supermarkets. Tamagoyaki (Japanese-style omelette) is a classic Japanese dish made by rolling a mixture of raw eggs with seasonings such as soy sauce, sugar, and salt as it cooks. Dashimaki Tamago, the Kyoto version of tamagoyaki, must be made with a mixture of eggs and a generous portion of soup stock made from small fish and seaweed. Imagine the fluffy eggs and savory flavor of the fish stock as they fill your mouth and melt together. It is pure deliciousness!
In most supermarkets, they are sold pre-sliced in 3cm widths like the photo above, or in a single block for you to cut as you like. They are good served warm or cold. The price for one package is around 300 yen at most supermarkets.
Fushimi Togarashi (Fushimi Sweet Green Pepper)
Next up are Fushimi Green Peppers and Manganji Green Peppers, both traditional vegetables of Kyoto that are stewed in soy sauce and Japanese soup stock. The peppers usually taste similar to green bell peppers, but there may occasionally be some very spicy ones in the mix.
The peppers are often braised with chirimen jako (dried baby sardines) or katsuobushi (dried bonito shavings). They are perfect with sake and normally cost around 200 yen.
Zuiki (Taro Stalks)
Continuing with another famous traditional Kyoto vegetable, these are Zuiki. They are the stalks of several taro, such as sato imo (taro) and hasu imo (Indian taro), which are healthy foods that are high in nutrients like calcium. Zuiki are prepared by boiling them in water with some salt, cooling them in cold water, and then peeling them. In Kyoto, they are commonly enjoyed with sesame and vinegar or ume (plum) vinegar dressing.
Zuiki are in season from summer to autumn, so this is when you're most likely to find them in stores. The crunchy texture and the perfect amount of vinegar is very appetizing. They are generally sold at around 200 yen.
Yuba (Tofu Skin), Tofu
Next up are classic Kyoto foods, Yuba (processed soy product) and Tofu. There are many varieties being sold at the supermarket, but this time, we chose the one called "Toro Yuba". Yuba is a soft skin that's created after soy milk has been warmed. It is collected and packed with soy milk. It has a smooth jelly-like texture that melts in your mouth, accompanied by creamy, rich sweetness.
It is usually pre-seasoned with soup stock and soy sauce, but it is also delicious if you add wasabi, chopped leeks, and egg yolks to taste. Scooping it with a spoon is the best way to eat it. The general cost is about 200 to 300 yen. It may not be stocked in the deli section, so be sure to check the designated processed soy product section, where Tofu and Yuba are usually showcased.
Zaru Soba (Buckwheat Noodles Served Cold With Dipping Sauce)
Next in the lineup is the classic Japanese dish, Zaru Soba. It is a popular dish that is found in supermarkets all year long, but it is especially favored during the swelteringly hot summer season. It is sold throughout the country, but the ones with Uji matcha (green tea from Uji) mixed into the noodles are very characteristic of the soba seen in Kyoto. The taste is light with an aromatic flavor of matcha. There are, of course, plain soba noodles without the matcha flavor, but do try the matcha version if you come across one in a store!
It is usually sold as a set that includes a dipping sauce and condiments such as leek and nori (dried seaweed). What is more, they can be eaten straight from the container for your convenience. They are generally priced somewhere between 200 to 300 yen.
Hamo Sushi (Daggertooth Pike Conger Sushi)
Next is sushi made with hamo, a common summer fish in Kyoto. Hamo is full of fine bones, so it is prepared by thinly slicing the bones and meat of the fish in order to give it a smoother texture.
The normal preparation for hamo sushi is done by carefully cutting up the bones and blanching the slices. However, the one purchased this time also has lightly seared slices. Hamo sushi is commonly eaten plain with a bit of sour plum or soy sauce. They are sold somewhere between 500 and 600 yen.
Introducing the Leading Supermarkets of Kyoto
This is an introduction of some popular supermarkets in Kyoto. First up is Fresco, a company based in Kyoto. They operate roughly 70 branches just within Kyoto Prefecture, and each of the stores are designed differently, with unique storefronts like the Japanese-styled one pictured above (Horikawa Branch). Since many of the stores are open 24 hours a day, they are as accessible as convenience stores, which is always a plus.
Next is the very popular Hankyu Oasis, which has recently been opening new branches within Kyoto City. They are known to have a selection of comparatively high-end products, and college students shop here when they want to be a little lavish. They have a wide assortment of products, from local produce like Kyoto vegetables to imported food from all over the globe. They operate at 7 locations within the city, including the Nishinokyo Branch pictured above.
Following up is Super Matsumoto, a supermarket with 21 branches in and around Kyoto City. They have a great variety of products in every category, but their selection of seafood, vegetables, fruits, and other fresh goods are outstandingly fresh! If you are looking for sushi, this is the place to go. They are also known to carry an abundant variety of regional and Kyoto-branded products, such as locally brewed sake and coffee beans from acclaimed cafes.
The final pick is the major supermarket chain, Life, that operates 264 branches nationwide. Not only do they offer a vast assortment of groceries, but they also carry many other categories of products including clothing, household goods, cosmetics, etc. Some stores are open till 11:00 PM or 12:00 AM - a very convenient supermarket to say the least!
Instead of making an effort to go out to eat, buying delicatessens from supermarkets offer many advantages as they are reasonably priced, convenient, and usually readily available at any time. It's a less touristy option and a great opportunity to capture the raw essence of Kyoto living. Do visit the supermarkets and give a shot trying the culinary flavors of Kyoto!
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.