Single Prefecture Stores: Hokkaido

There is a new food shopping trend in Japan – single-prefecture stores. Japanese have been obsessed with gourmet travel long before we, Australians, began hopping on buses to tour Hunter region wineries or doing day trips to eat at a Southern Highlands restaurant. Pick any domestic Japanese travel brochure, and it is jam-packed with information on local delicacies. Every prefecture is famous for its own produce. Kagoshima is famous for its giant daikon (radish) that grows in the volcanic soil of Sakurajima peninsula, Hokkaido for its potatoes and dairy. Hokkaido is very close to my heart, actually, as it’s positioned a mere 4 hours by ferry or half an hour by air from the Russian island Sakhalin. The climate in North Hokkaido is very similar to Russian, and both are rich in and famous for faboulous seafood.

So it was with great delight that I disovered a specialty Hokkaido food store a walking distance from our Ginza hotel on the 2010 trip. Opposite Yurakocho station on the Tokyo’s JR loop line, Hokkaido Dosanko Plaza was a brand new sight in the land of department stores I remembered from my student days:

Upon entrance, I was immediately drawn to the mouth-watering display of crab and salmon roe bento boxes.  (The bento at the front was later purchased by me).

Thinking back, I should have gone for the one below, right:

Note how cheap the bento are, all that fresh crab and caviar for just A$12? I also loved that the crab, in fact, was from Russia, while salmon caviar “ikura” from Hokkaido. Long time ago, my Dad was a crab fisherman. You could say I was brought up on crab and caviar. And the word ‘ikura’ is perhaps the only Russian word “ikra” in Japanese vocabulary.

There were, of course, Hokkaido potatos:

And plenty of gorgeously packaged butter, milk, yogurt and milk-based desserts. The presentation had that cool retro feel which is very different to regular cartoonish, cutesy packaging. Very modern European deli, I must say.

Creme Caramel....I die!

Chocolate Milk!

Then, of course, there was some fabulous seafood at rather decent prices:

And last but not least, boutique breweries’ beer. I can’t believe we failed to try “Okhotsk” which is a name of a Russian town, named after the Okhotsk sea washing both Russian and Japanese shores. Truth be told, we were so unbelievably full our entire time in Japan, so quite often we had to sample food with out eyes only.

Hokkaido Dosanko Plaza can be easily found opposite JR Yurakucho station, Ginza exit.

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