Saturday, June 21, 2014

Expectations exceeded UPDATED

To those who may be interested (Kei, Commenter Petey), the moment finally came: I drove to Mitsuwa! And back! While I get that driving from Central NJ to Northern NJ doesn't sound especially momentous, this was my first time on the NJ Turnpike, or any toll road for that matter. It was also my first experience of steep-hill driving, in either Edgewater or Fort Lee, whatever town it was between the road and the store. 

I'd been slightly worried that this would be like my last Japanese-supermarket excursion, to one in the Philadelphia suburbs, which turned out to be nice enough but a glorified convenience store, and which was only worth it in the end because of some good French bakeries nearby. Not so this time around! Mitsuwa is basically a suburban-NJ-sized Japanese supermarket/food hall, combined with a drug store, a few housewares sections, and a food court. A really cheap one, I should add - bowls of excellent noodle soup (kitsune udon) for about $5. It was a bit of sensory overload - I could have spent five hours in the soap-and-shampoo section alone! - but sort of manageable. 

Upon arrival.

UPDATE: Ducklings (not goslings - thanks Caryatis!) and Manhattan right outside the store.

More sponges.

The drive back. Near the Secaucus train station. So far north!

It was kind of incredible, I suppose, because it felt like being back in the very stores where I so wanted to buy stuff in Japan, except everything was identified in a script I could read (not necessarily explained or translated, but transliterated), and, more importantly, we were there with a trunk-having car. Lots was even on sale. And yes, a predictably enormous bag of sushi rice, a comically huge bottle of cooking sake, and other such items are now in our apartment. 

7 comments:

caryatis said...

Ducklings. Of the mallard variety. They're just big.

BTW, I don't know if you are responsible for this, but it's now easier to pass the captcha test. Thank you!

Phoebe said...

Wow, ducklings, thanks! There were other baby birds (too far to get a phone pic) with a duck, which were clearly ducklings, so I figured those had to be baby geese. But now that you mention it, the mom (?) is clearly a duck.

I have no idea how Blogger works, but glad it's working better!

Petey said...

"I'd been slightly worried that this would be like my last Japanese-supermarket excursion, to one in the Philadelphia suburbs, which turned out to be nice enough but a glorified convenience store, and which was only worth it in the end because of some good French bakeries nearby. Not so this time around!"

Like the magical sitar in Moulin Rouge!, I only speak the truth.

Petey said...

"I have no idea how Blogger works"

It's a series of tubes.

Petey said...

"Expectations exceeded"

I had zero compunction in repeatedly recommending Mitsuwa to you, as I was pretty much 100% sure that the wonderland would indeed exceed expectations.

But here's my query: I was also about 90% sure that it would be an easier day trip for you than a trip to Philly, given that I think the industrialized layout of the NJ Turnpike is actually an easier drive than mixed-access highways. I'm curious if I was correct on that count as well.

(And yes, the hilly nature of NJ across from Manhattan is indeed either thrilling or scary to drive, depending on your POV. Personally, I used to love tooling around Route 9 in that area, just for the craziness of it all.)

Phoebe said...

Petey,

Mitsuwa is definitely a better day trip than its Philadelphia equivalent. But if you're asking me to compare one (fabulous) supermarket and the entire city of Philadelphia...

I'll say this much: There are tolls to get to Mitsuwa, adding nearly $20 to the trip. And it's a longer drive, so more gas $ as well.

kei said...

I've been to this Mitsuwa before just once. It was so strange to be in this one after going to the one outside of Chicago for nearly all my life. Everything is pretty much the same, just structured differently. Glad you enjoyed!