A saving grace for supermarket shopping which can be found throughout most of Japan is Gyomu Super. It’s basically a discounted whole sale shop for restaurants wanting to buy things in bulk for cheap. Luckily for the foreign community, that means that we can find imported food that we wouldn’t find in other local supermarkets. My local Gyomu Super in Agano City is about a 15 minute drive from the centre of Niigata City, and I make a point of visiting at least once a week.
They produce they sell is cheap and locally sourced, and it’s possible to pick up big bags of carrots, onions etc. things that you would usually pay for singularly in other supermarkets. They have a big selection of cold and smoked cuts, and the one closest to me recently put in a fresh meat section. There is a big selection of cheeses here (one thing that I think is overpriced and hard to come by in Japan), for example European smoked cheese, square slices, kilo bags of mozzarella and rolls of cream cheese. Another thing that’s difficult to find in Japan is chicken, beef and even vegetable stock powders for making things like soup stew etc. Gyomu Super has a big variety of these as well.
The biggest draw for me has to be the frozen vegetables, fruit, meat and fish. I can find big bags of frozen berries for smoothies (or sangrias in the summer); broccoli, spinach and even Brussel sprouts for Christmas; white fish for making stir fries, mussels in white wine sauce; the meat selection they have is amazing for BBQs, boxes of yakitori (chicken cubes on a stick), imported sausages and burgers, and this year they’ve even started stocking Jingisukan packs (sliced lamb/ mutton), roll on summer!
Another thing I pick up every week is tinned tuna, tinned tomatoes, pasta and pasta sauces, olives, Tex-Mex ingredients (refried beans, jalapenos, salsa, kidney beans, flour wraps) and hot sauce. During the winter holidays and close to Valentine’s Day they stock Belgian and German chocolate, and in the freezer they always have churros, apple pie and cheesecakes from the Netherlands.
Finally, there’s a wide selection of beer, chuhi, highballs and hard alchohol, though this is something that you can usually find in any Japanese supermarket. In the cereal section though, one thing they have that you don’t really see anywhere else is oats, for flapjacks, biscuits, crumbles etc.
It really is necessary to check this shop out if you're looking for reasonably priced import food: the things I've listed which I pick up is just the tip of the iceberg for what you can find at Gyomu Super. No membership/ card required to shop here and staff are very knowledgeable about whether they have something you’re looking for, and will help you out to your car if you’re buying a massive amount of stuff.
Every day from 7:00AM to 7:00PM
〒959-2123 Niigata Prefecture, Agano, Ubagahashi, ５６−１