Sunday, June 22, 2008

Nijiya Market

You know, so far San Francisco has been sort of a big tease. I was expecting to have a number of fanboy blog posts for you being all "ZOMG ZOMG ZOMG, San Francisco iz so kewllzzzz! Check this out!"

Perhaps I just have unrealistic expectations, but some places, which might have had some unique point of interest well just have turned out to be kind of everyday/mundane.

Case in point. I walked across the street from my hotel and was happily surprised to have stumbled upon a Japanese supermarket, called Nijiya. Now I guess I should separate out my thoughts on the place as a grocery store from the ready-to-go food they sell. The grocery market itself was interesting, with a decent selection of product and Japanese ingredients.

It's certainly noticeable that California is closer in physical and cultural proximity to Asia, since you get products that just don't really make it out to the East coast, such as these smiley animal sponges...

...or these fancy see-through bags of rice. (Or perhaps this is a local rice company?)

So far as the to-go food stuff went, Nijiya was also seemingly impressive. Nijiya had a pretty huge (by East coast standards) selection of sushi and Japanese bento box lunches to go. Excitedly, I picked myself up a Hamachi Teryaki Bento box...

...a spam onigiri...

...and a melon sweet roll.

I had never had any before, but each looked interesting in their own way. I mean I understand this is a supermarket and not a restaurant, but I certainly was far from the only one picking ready-to-go stuff up and surely this stuff can't be all that bad, right?

Ick. All of the stuff wasn't so great. The Hamachi was overcooked and covered by a overly-sweet teryaki sauce. A number of the accompanying sides tasted as if they just didn't survive the fridge treatment, having a rubbery texture. The spam onigiri was probably the best thing I did buy, but that was just umm a piece of spam with a ball of rice. And the worst by far was the melon sweet bun, an egregious combination of some fake melon flavor, sugar and a texture that makes me shudder when I think about it now.

I know it seems like I'm being a bit unfair at this point to San Fran, since the two places I've reviewed have been random draws (not even in San Fran proper) and one hasn't even been a restaurant. But I guess my setup for San Fran has been a number of friends who have just fallen head-over-heals in love with the place... and well I'm just not seeing why at this point.

Nijiya Market
143 E. El Camino Real, Mountain View, CA 94040 (Google Map)
(650) 691-1600

There are a number of other locations as well.

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