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    Post #1 - November 11th, 2004, 6:11 pm
    Post #1 - November 11th, 2004, 6:11 pm Post #1 - November 11th, 2004, 6:11 pm
    FYI, for those who are fond of family excursions to Mitsuwa Market: I took my kids out there today, and we had a lovely lunch in the food court as usual. Much to the consternation of my kids, however, who like ramen but love Pokemon more, the toy store that had been their principal reason for loving Mitsuwa had totally disappeared. Absolutely gone, just empty floor in its place. I'm grown accustomed to these changes at Mitsuwa by now, so I figured that was that -- but I did inquire on the way out, and found that the store had moved to a space in the strip mall on the SW corner of Golf and Arlington Heights Road, next to a Subway sandwich shop. So my kids were able to get their diminutive figurines and I was able to stock up on edible Asian delights in the same trip. The toy store, by the way, is also fun for foodies if you like to objectify your cuisine: I love the little "surprise" toys they sell there that feature tiny plastic foods of some sort or another. I have various ones on display next to my computer -- including a "German" meal complete with several varieties of sausages and meats and an "engraved" beer stein; a "French" meal with wine glass, filet mignon, dinner rolls, and fancy ice cream dessert (and very cute knife and fork); and a sushi platter complete with tiny chopsticks. The detail on these tiny things is really impressive. Today I got one that I presume is, in Japan, regarded as the quintessential American meal -- hamburger, bottle of "New Cola" (looks like Coke to me), a substantial (in terms of scale) box of popcorn, and a pretzel. Also a very cute little paper bag and paper (presumably that your burger would be wrapped in) that reads "Cinema Burger" all over it. The insert that came with this meal is written almost entirely in Japanese, of course, but this particular series says "Dreamy American Life" in English. Other foods that one could get in this collection include something that looks just like Spam, a steak dinner which appears to include a bottle of rum as the beverage, and a tray of food that looks like something you'd get on an airplane. Not necessarily the foods I dream about, but some might. Anyhow, it's always a great time at Mitsuwa.
    ToniG
  • Post #2 - November 11th, 2004, 11:22 pm
    Post #2 - November 11th, 2004, 11:22 pm Post #2 - November 11th, 2004, 11:22 pm
    This should really be in non-food, the new address of the toystore is 43 W Golf Rd, Arlington Heights. I haven't found where that is exactly yet, but it's on their website: http://www.j1toy.com
  • Post #3 - November 11th, 2004, 11:25 pm
    Post #3 - November 11th, 2004, 11:25 pm Post #3 - November 11th, 2004, 11:25 pm
    JoelF wrote:This should really be in non-food


    JoelF,

    I think I understand your reasoning, but it's about shopping, so my sense is it may be correctly placed. Sometimes posts fall into a gray area, and could go in anyone of several ways.

    Hammond
  • Post #4 - November 12th, 2004, 4:39 pm
    Post #4 - November 12th, 2004, 4:39 pm Post #4 - November 12th, 2004, 4:39 pm
    Well, also, if you eat with your kids, these are the bits of information I like to have and often glean from this board, since such added "treats" can sometimes make for much more pleasant family dining excursions -- and I had some profoundly disappointed children with me until we found out where the toy store had gone. Also, since food, to me, is about a good deal more than just eating, I thought I had provided a fascinating insight into cultural interpretations of cuisine as represented by miniaturized iconic playthings. Guess not. Thanks goodness I didn't present my theories about Pokemon!
    ToniG
  • Post #5 - August 6th, 2007, 10:13 am
    Post #5 - August 6th, 2007, 10:13 am Post #5 - August 6th, 2007, 10:13 am
    ToniG wrote:I love the little "surprise" toys they sell there that feature tiny plastic foods of some sort or another.


    I don't know if these are the surprise toys ToniG was talking about, but I was at Mitsuwa on Saturday and took some pictures in the candy aisle. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves since I can't read Japanese.

    This was the display:
    Image

    Then a few varieties of surprise toys...I think each box includes a piece of gum.

    ImageImage

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  • Post #6 - November 4th, 2007, 2:48 pm
    Post #6 - November 4th, 2007, 2:48 pm Post #6 - November 4th, 2007, 2:48 pm
    Hi,

    I have long regarded my visits to Mitsuwa akin to visiting Japan for a little while. Last night after a long drive, I stopped in for a light meal on my way home. Saturday night was pretty lively place with the food vendors at the entrance preparing waffles filled with cream and fruit, sweet potatoes cooked over hot stones, (sweet) potato and apple pies being assembled and baked. The best of show was the Octopus Balls cooked right before your eyes with cooks who sang out to attract the crowd. As a batch finished, they would bang on a drum singing in unison, then began packing them into boxes. Ten pieces could be purchased for just under $7 with a limit of two boxes per customer.

    I made a film clip now posted on youtube.com of Octopus Balls from beginning to end.

    I love the lively street food atmosphere in Mitsuwa on weekends. I need to do more weekend stuff simply for the entertainment value.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #7 - November 4th, 2007, 3:00 pm
    Post #7 - November 4th, 2007, 3:00 pm Post #7 - November 4th, 2007, 3:00 pm
    C2, very nice video clip. The dexterity displayed with the chopsticks is a thing of beauty, and this cooking sequence is perfect for video (as it'd be very difficult to explain). I take you sampled some octo-balls?
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #8 - November 4th, 2007, 4:54 pm
    Post #8 - November 4th, 2007, 4:54 pm Post #8 - November 4th, 2007, 4:54 pm
    Hi,

    Perhaps I had my moment of cheap or I felt already over-indulged elsewhere, I didn't taste one. They were not providing samples and ten pieces for just under $7 was more than I wanted. I assumed these were best fresh from the cook. I wasn't in the mood to eat enough to justify the purchase. My partners in crime were also not in the mood.

    I can only imagine they might just hit the spot.

    Film note: they had three guys each working a set of cup shaped griddles. Each was at different steps, I actually taped out of order and repieced it in order when I got home. I love capturing stuff that would take too long to bother to describe.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #9 - November 5th, 2007, 8:49 am
    Post #9 - November 5th, 2007, 8:49 am Post #9 - November 5th, 2007, 8:49 am
    Even watching the video is a bit like a little vacation to Japan. Thanks.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #10 - November 5th, 2007, 1:55 pm
    Post #10 - November 5th, 2007, 1:55 pm Post #10 - November 5th, 2007, 1:55 pm
    Balls of pleasure! (Takoyaki, technically.) I assure you, they are tasty. And 10 balls for $7 is not bad. Otafuku (on E. 9th St. in NYC) sells 6 for $5.

    Are they only available on the weekend? I haven't seen them in the food court, but I don't usually eat at Mitsuwa (I go for ramen at Kitaka).
  • Post #11 - November 5th, 2007, 2:23 pm
    Post #11 - November 5th, 2007, 2:23 pm Post #11 - November 5th, 2007, 2:23 pm
    ccrush,

    Takoyaki!

    Thank you! I didn't take a still shot of the name, then couldn't read it in the film clip.

    They spelled it Tako Yaki at Mitsuwa, though maybe it was related to spacing.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #12 - November 5th, 2007, 2:58 pm
    Post #12 - November 5th, 2007, 2:58 pm Post #12 - November 5th, 2007, 2:58 pm
    Wiki entries on takoyaki and okonomiyaki--both Japanese street foods common in the Kansai region, similar ingredients, different presentation.
  • Post #13 - November 5th, 2007, 3:51 pm
    Post #13 - November 5th, 2007, 3:51 pm Post #13 - November 5th, 2007, 3:51 pm
    ccrush,

    I am not at Mitsuwa often on weekends. I have the impression there are revolving food vendors who likely pay a premium for the privilege. I would call in advance to learn if Octopus Balls would be there.

    I still remember that terrific image of the really fresh tuna butchered in front of a crowd at Mitsuwa.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #14 - November 5th, 2007, 6:00 pm
    Post #14 - November 5th, 2007, 6:00 pm Post #14 - November 5th, 2007, 6:00 pm
    Ccrush, I think it's over today...

    Image

    This has been "the talk of the town" over at Sumutoko. My wife was initially hesitant about spending $7 for the takoyaki, but at week's end she had succumbed to the hype and was yearning for Osaka-style takoyaki. HOWEVER, the threads also indicated that as the days wore on, they seemed to be "running out" of ingredients and the tako was getting smaller and smaller and smaller... So buyer beware today.
  • Post #15 - November 5th, 2007, 10:22 pm
    Post #15 - November 5th, 2007, 10:22 pm Post #15 - November 5th, 2007, 10:22 pm
    Jay,

    Do you think you could keep us alert of these special events? Or it they are very regular, then perhaps highlight those you think are most interesting? I love this kind of stuff, but largely I am unaware until after the fact.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #16 - November 6th, 2007, 9:18 am
    Post #16 - November 6th, 2007, 9:18 am Post #16 - November 6th, 2007, 9:18 am
    Cathy2 wrote:Jay,

    Do you think you could keep us alert of these special events? Or it they are very regular, then perhaps highlight those you think are most interesting? I love this kind of stuff, but largely I am unaware until after the fact.

    Regards,


    Absolutely! But even better, here's Mitsuwa's homepage w/ links to the advertised circulars I posted above!

    http://www.mitsuwachicago.net/php/index.php?lang=eng
  • Post #17 - June 10th, 2010, 9:08 am
    Post #17 - June 10th, 2010, 9:08 am Post #17 - June 10th, 2010, 9:08 am
    Sometimes being on Facebook pays: I "like" Mitsuwa Marketplace, and got an early heads-up about this year's Umaimono (somebody translated this as "yummy stuff") festival last weekend. After a failed attempt over Memorial Day to go strawberry picking, I thought an indoor adventure was in order, and packed up Sparky and his buddy Zuko to see what we could see.

    Image

    As in the past, the visit was all about the hawker stand set up at the front of the store, complete with takoyaki makers:



    The stand also offered a Japanese bonaito bakery, including some delicious-looking pies,

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    a collection of fish cake skewers flavored different ways, and an unbelievably chewy skewer of three rice balls about the size of quail eggs in teriyaki sauce that were kind of like boba tapioca on steroids, served with spicy mustard.

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    I found the octopus balls to be oversauced, underdone and gooey in the middle, and the octopus to be undercooked and crunchy (which didn't bother us, but wasn't as good as the time I had them when it was tender - we wound up picking the octopus out and eating it) I would give them a pass the next time, and was glad there were 4 of us, so eight balls didn't seem like so much of a waste.

    We then spent some time in the bookstore admiring the food-shaped erasers, the snap-together Japanese building set kind of like a cross between legos and origami, and the small english book section. The shopkeepers were clearly used to gaijin children, giving Sparky a head tilt and a little wave when I directed him to say "thank you," and encouraging me when I told the boys to say "arigato" with a little bow.

    We then made a quick visit to Hippo bakery and the candy aisle, where I exerted superhuman strength and did not go home loaded down with delicious items ending in -pan and the spectacular-looking bacon-studded pain d epi, although Sparky and his bud did load us down with Japanese candy.

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    After a quick walk through the rest of the store, we decided it was time for an early dinner, and got an assortment of items from the food court: sadly, the Japanese kids meal is no more. Instead, I opted for a cold soba noodle, a "salt" ramen noodle soup, a side of rice with leeks (and a LOT of katsuobushi flakes) some tempura vegetables

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    and - for me - rice with natto, which I've always wanted to cross off the list of "weird" foods:

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    I have to say, I didn't find it all that challenging. It is, indeed, slimy - really, really slimy. Snot is what comes to mind - or hagfish, if you've ever seen them on Discovery TV. If you can get past the texture, though, I found it to be pleasantly nutty with a coffeelike aftertaste. My only problem was I only wanted about two tablespoons and this was a HUGE portion - it's very dense and satisfies you quickly. I get why people like it; I'd try it again.

    We then headed to the ice cream shop for swirled green tea and vanilla soft serve, and I was unable to resist a "shot" of green tea. As I was telling the kids about the tea ceremony, how the Foods of the World books had a description of the careful process of frothing the tea and how I'd always wanted to try some, the teenaged barista (politely suppressing an eye roll with a clearly herculean effort) said, "Um, yea - the tea ceremony stuff is right there." And so it was - hidden in the shadows of the gleaming espresso-type machine that pulled my shot in two seconds flat.

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  • Post #18 - June 10th, 2010, 9:19 am
    Post #18 - June 10th, 2010, 9:19 am Post #18 - June 10th, 2010, 9:19 am
    Mhays wrote:
    natto;

    I have to say, I didn't find it all that challenging. It is, indeed, slimy - really, really slimy. Snot is what comes to mind - or hagfish, if you've ever seen them on Discovery TV. If you can get past the texture, though, I found it to be pleasantly nutty with a coffeelike aftertaste. My only problem was I only wanted about two tablespoons and this was a HUGE portion - it's very dense and satisfies you quickly. I get why people like it; I'd try it again.


    I buy the four packs from the H-Mart natto cooler. I get the ones without the sauce packets. Open packet, drizzle sesame oil and some plochman's mustard on it then for breakfast many times I week I have a hot bowl of rice and fresh natto a poached egg and white kimchee.

    Fermented foods are supposed to be really good for you.
  • Post #19 - June 10th, 2010, 9:40 am
    Post #19 - June 10th, 2010, 9:40 am Post #19 - June 10th, 2010, 9:40 am
    Natto is one of those foods that I truly enjoy but others seem to assume I order to appear worldly or eccentric. Some versions are funkier than others, but even "challenging" natto has got to be small beer compared to things such as ripe cheese, preserved fish, and other delicacies from an objective standpoint. The natto at the Mitsuwa ramen stand is among my favorites in Chicago.
  • Post #20 - June 10th, 2010, 9:52 am
    Post #20 - June 10th, 2010, 9:52 am Post #20 - June 10th, 2010, 9:52 am
    I'm with you, Jeff - and the texture isn't really that different from Marshmallow Fluff or a Jell-O Snow...we're just not used to that texture in a savory item. I think this is another one of those foods I'll be enjoying when I can; the family wasn't into it (though the spouse did try some and, while he didn't exactly like it, he didn't mind it.)

    Kenji - I can see where this would be perfect with rice and a poached egg.
  • Post #21 - June 12th, 2010, 4:02 pm
    Post #21 - June 12th, 2010, 4:02 pm Post #21 - June 12th, 2010, 4:02 pm
    Just got back from a family excursion to Mitsuwa. The two new items I got that I will report back upon later are sashimi surf clam (8 thin slices) and an octopus roll from Hippo Bakery. It appears to me that the presence of octopus is minimal in the roll, but I couldn't resist buying it anyways. The surf clam looks excellent. I think all I'll need is a bit of soy sauce with it and I'll be good to go.
  • Post #22 - June 12th, 2010, 4:09 pm
    Post #22 - June 12th, 2010, 4:09 pm Post #22 - June 12th, 2010, 4:09 pm
    For clarification sake, the octopus roll is not a maki roll. It's a bakery roll.
  • Post #23 - January 7th, 2016, 4:10 pm
    Post #23 - January 7th, 2016, 4:10 pm Post #23 - January 7th, 2016, 4:10 pm
    I went in yesterday to Mitsuwa, I hadn't been in awhile (used to go much more often) and noticed some things that I've never seen there before.

    The entryway has generally been well stocked, much more so on weekend days. Yesterday was very barren with a single pallet of apples. Flooring looks very worn as well.

    No tomago or ground tuna, which were always two mainstays in the sushi grade fish area and two items I really liked.

    The meat shelves were not well stocked at all, many "usual" items were not present and what was present was very limited quantities. Chicken gizzards took up 5' of shelf space.

    Hippo Bakery seemed to be humming.

    Mitsuwa struggling maybe?
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #24 - January 7th, 2016, 5:37 pm
    Post #24 - January 7th, 2016, 5:37 pm Post #24 - January 7th, 2016, 5:37 pm
    Go to Mitsuwa on any Saurday or Sunday.
    Aisles and shelves are stocked, crowded, Food court has lines.
    Selection of Sashimi/Sushi Grade and whole fish are exemplary.
    I Don't purchase what the Trade refers to as 'scrape' which is what I think you are referring to as ground tuna but they always have Tamago.
    Wed would be the worst day of the week to go and Early mornings when they first open are not good as that's when they stock the shelves. I believe most stores are like this now. No stocking begins before opening.
    Did you ask for any item you wanted.
    Mitsuwa has always been attentive to any request I have for items not in the cases.-Richard
  • Post #25 - January 7th, 2016, 8:48 pm
    Post #25 - January 7th, 2016, 8:48 pm Post #25 - January 7th, 2016, 8:48 pm
    I haven't been to Mitsuwa in quite a while as I missed going there when I was in San Diego a few weeks ago.

    I will say that it is my best source for ground beef in terms of quality (and smaller size of package).
  • Post #26 - January 7th, 2016, 8:55 pm
    Post #26 - January 7th, 2016, 8:55 pm Post #26 - January 7th, 2016, 8:55 pm
    We haven't been there in a long, long time and hope it lasts. The small Japanese store in Wilmette (next to Lou Malnatis) closed for lack of business so the few things we get were also available at Mitsuwa.
    What disease did cured ham actually have?
  • Post #27 - January 7th, 2016, 9:06 pm
    Post #27 - January 7th, 2016, 9:06 pm Post #27 - January 7th, 2016, 9:06 pm
    Sweet Willie wrote:I went in yesterday to Mitsuwa, I hadn't been in awhile (used to go much more often) and noticed some things that I've never seen there before.

    The entryway has generally been well stocked, much more so on weekend days. Yesterday was very barren with a single pallet of apples. Flooring looks very worn as well.

    No tomago or ground tuna, which were always two mainstays in the sushi grade fish area and two items I really liked.

    The meat shelves were not well stocked at all, many "usual" items were not present and what was present was very limited quantities. Chicken gizzards took up 5' of shelf space.

    Hippo Bakery seemed to be humming.

    Mitsuwa struggling maybe?

    My recent experience as well
  • Post #28 - January 7th, 2016, 11:42 pm
    Post #28 - January 7th, 2016, 11:42 pm Post #28 - January 7th, 2016, 11:42 pm
    I thought it looked a little thin last time I was there, as well -- except the food court, which is always busy. Santouka was the busiest place, followed by a new tempura place. Want to return to see if the new Japanese odon maker has moved in. I enjoyed my ramen, but when I then turned to shopping, I was a bit concerned about what seemed to be shortages on many shelves.

    I'd certainly hate to lose Mitsuwa. I don't do a huge amount of my shopping there, but I do rely on it for some items -- and particularly rely on it for the bakery and food court.

    I'll hope this is just a seasonal slump and that they're busy soon. I live near an all-Japanese school, so I know there is a potential customer base. But who knows, maybe they're all at Lou Malnati's.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #29 - June 13th, 2016, 2:20 pm
    Post #29 - June 13th, 2016, 2:20 pm Post #29 - June 13th, 2016, 2:20 pm
    Definitely some thinner shelves again this past Sunday, especially in the otaku snack/candy section. I hope it was just a weekend rush, because it felt positively vacant. The food court still seems to be busy, but I'm not sure Mitsuwa can survive losing the grocery.

    Also, they had signs posted that they'd extended their hours until 9pm. Not sure what that portends.
  • Post #30 - June 13th, 2016, 2:40 pm
    Post #30 - June 13th, 2016, 2:40 pm Post #30 - June 13th, 2016, 2:40 pm
    madopal wrote:Also, they had signs posted that they'd extended their hours until 9pm.
    thanks for the heads up. I like later shopping, less hectic/less people.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.

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