If you were looking for a major Japanese shopping center on the United States’ East Coast, your first stop would probably be New York City. But Mitsuwa Market in Edgewater, New Jersey, is where you really want to be! The thriving shopping center is full of Japanese shops, restaurants, and a grocery store that is just across the Hudson River from the Big Apple. In fact, from the Mitsuwa parking lot, you can get a striking view of the Upper West Side. But for anyone looking to experience a little bit of Japan in America will be delighted by all that this suburban shopping center offers.
What is Mitsuwa Market?
Mitsuwa Marketplace is an American Japanese supermarket chain. They currently have locations in places like California, Chicago, and this one in Edgewater, New Jersey. Each one is a little different. The location in New Jersey is more than a mere supermarket. In addition to the supermarket, there is a food court with a number of restaurants. There are also businesses selling pastries, chocolates, tea, medicines, and automotive items. Outside of the supermarket, is a strip mall that shares the same parking lot. There you will find several other Japanese-related stores. Most notably there is Kinokuniya, a fantastic Japanese bookstore with stationery, mangas, magazines, and more.
Mitsuwa’s grocery store is where to be if you’re looking for a specific Japanese grocery item, Japanese candy, or a bottle of sake or shochu. The selection of soy sauces alone is impressive. It seems to go on and on, row after row and aisle after aisle. There is also a large meat department with butchers you can watch through a window. The fresh meats and fish are available in a variety of different cuts for traditional and standard Japanese meals. (Let me tell you, while the thinly cut Shabu Shabu might be intended for hot pots, it makes a darned good Philadelphia cheesesteak.) Unsurprisingly, there is a large variety and selection of fish and seafood on offer.
Be warned, if you cannot read Japanese you might be out of luck with a majority of the products on sale. Somethings have English labels but no everything. But take a chance! You might find some fun things. I’ve tried matcha candies from Hokkaido as well as instant pancakes.
Mitsuwa Food Court
While the grocery store boasts a large selection of pre-made sushi options, there’s a number of restaurants that make up the Mitsuwa food court. Try a hearty bowl of ramen from Santouka or a delicious tempura bowl with a side of soba noodles at Tendon Hannosuke. You can be assured that most dishes are authentic. While you’re going to Edgewater restaurants, many are local outposts for established Japanese restaurants. Be prepared that some of these spots are cash-only. And save room for dessert! Grab a matcha green tea soft serve ice cream from Matcha LOVE by ito En or a matcha green tea cream puff from KAI Sweet. If you’re feeling a little fancier, Minamoto Kitchoan has an impressive, albeit expensive, selection of pastries. Try a cherry in gelatin or one of their Baumkuchen. Apparently the Japanese have long embraced the layered German cake made on a spit.
Shopping at Mitsuwa Market
Once you have gotten something to eat, be sure to visit Books Kinokuniya just outside and across the driveway of Santouka. Fans of Japanese manga, magazines, or books will love the selection. In addition to manga paperbacks, there are also DVDs. The shop also has a modest selection of stationery, cards, and calligraphy supplies. Have you seen the Japanese stapleless stapler? Half the fun is just browsing.
It’s a bit disingenuous to suggest that New Jersey’s Mitsuwa is detached from NYC. Behind the shopping center is the Hudson River. Standing on the edge you can clearly see the skyline of the Upper West Side, Columbia University, Morningside Heights, Manhattanville. But regardless of the physical location, Mitsuwa Marketplace is a fun way to spend an afternoon, get a bite to eat, or stock up on some Japanese groceries. After all, who doesn’t love all that kawaii candy? (That’s Japanese for “cute!”)
Getting to Mitsuwa Edgewater, NJ
The easiest way to reach Mitsuwa Edgewater is by car. There is a parking lot directly in front of the shopping center but it fills up quickly! On weekends and holidays, you will frequently see drivers waiting for someone to leave and free up a parking spot. If you want to take public transit, there is an NJ Transit bus stop (River Road at Archer Street) directly at the entrance to the shopping center. It should be noted that while there are sidewalks, River Road is a very busy road.
All photos, as well as all opinions, are my own.