Japanese food enthusiasts are lucky to live in Vancouver (and elsewhere in the Lower Mainland of B.C.) where Asian produce is readily available, and imported Japanese food is around nearly every corner! There are many places to shop for Japanese ingredients, but here are my favourite:

Fujiya: http://www.fujiya.ca/

Fujiya’s largest location (on Clark and Venebles) is your one-stop-shop for all pantry items. This is where you will find everything you need to keep in stock: dashi, large sacks of rice, noodles, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, ponzu, and the best selection of Japanese pickles. They also have a good stock of frozen items (including the famous natto), a selection of fish, ready-made sushi and bento, Japanese cookbooks, and even carry Japanese kitchen tools such as ginger graters, cooking chopsticks, and more. Although short on produce, they do carry some specialty vegetables such as kaiwara (daikon sprouts) and shiso herb (often used as a garnish for sushi and sashimi). If this location is convenient to you, you can stop reading now. If not, they have locations downtown, in Richmond, and in Victoria.

T&T: http://www.tnt-supermarket.com/en/index.php

Although mainly Chinese in its product, T&T locations carry a great stock of Japanese items. Although less likely to carry the widest variety of Japanese soup stocks and sauces, the best part about T&T is its variety of Asian vegetables, freshly made noodles and selection of frozen fish. It’s also the best place to pick up fish balls for nabemono (Japanese hot-pot).

H-Mart: http://www.hanahreum.ca/board/default_e.asp

H-Mart is primarily Korean, and has a small selection of Japanese sauces and stocks, but has a great selection of Asian produce and seafood that more than makes up for it. This is a good place when you just need a couple of additional items. Their downtown location is on the second floor (look up!) and also has ridiculously convenient hours: 7am – 10pm Monday – Saturday, and 9am – 10pm on Sundays.

Konbiniya: http://www.konbiniya.com/

The smallest of the stores mentioned, Konbiniya mostly carries dried/instant foods, snacks and bento boxes. Famous for the automated voice welcoming you to the store upon arrival and thanking you for your visit as you leave, they tend to have a selection of ingredients for easy to prepare [read: instant] foods for home-sick Japanese ex-pats needing an instant reminder of home. However, they do carry some staples. Also check out the manga, videos, Japanese hair-dresser, dishware, and karaoke box upstairs!

Fuji Market (Whistler): http://www.fujimarket.ca/

A well-stocked little market connected to a Japanese izakaya, this is the place to go if you are shopping for Japanese ingredients in Whistler. Don’t let the Japanese tourists and students monopolize this place. Their inventory will definitely give you everything you need to do all the basics, and more.

Japanese Dishware and Cookware

Daiso in Richmond (http://www.daisocanada.com) and YokoYaya downtown (http://www.yokoyaya.com) are two of the best places to find daikon graters, ginger graters, sesame mortars, cooking chopsticks and other amazing Japanese cookware. T&T is good for rice cookers, but various stores in Chinatown also carry them. Look for Japanese brands (like Zojirushi) with heavy insets for the highest quality.

For something a little fancier, try Utsuwa-no-yakata in Burnaby (in Metrotown) and in Richmond (at Aberdeen Centre). They also carry earthenware nabe (hotpot dishes) and lovely sets at reasonable prices.