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The depachika


torakris
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I have been here for 13 years and I am still awed by them! :biggrin:

It is one of the first places I take people when they come for a visit, of course I will never step foot in one of those places after 4:00, they are mad houses!!!

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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Great find! Depa-chika are amazing, and they've changed so much since I first came to Japan. I love the new big fancy depa-chika, but I kind of miss the dinky old ones- few shops give out samples anymore.

What are your favourite depa-chika?

I like Isetan in Shinjuku and Seibu in Ikebukuro. Shinjuku's Takashimaya, mentioned in the article, is actually not that impressive- it's best point is that it's a bit far from anywhere so never gets as crowded as other depachika. Also many of the shops have a counter where you can sit down for a quick bite, which is neat.

Any favourite products?

Flo is a chain (has shops in many depa-chika) with great tarts and quiches. Lenotre (at Seibu) has excellent waffles and an amazing crunchy buttery pastry called 'croquante'. Highly recommended!

I don't have a favourite shop, but the onigiri and namagashi from depa-chika are way better than from anywhere else.

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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Seibu in Ikebukuro is probably my favorite, but I haven't been recently.

I go to the smaller depatos (Tokyu and Hankyu) by my house and do my depachika shopping there, usually gettting bentos for lunch.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 4 months later...

I haven't ventured into the depachika areas for a while, they are so tempting and I always find myself parting with a lot more money then planned. I just went with a Japanese friend a couple days ago and felt like I was seeing it for the first time again, I just love these places. They were giving out samples with abandon, we were so full we didn't even need lunch. My friend and I were standing at one "store" (stall would be more appropriate) that had only 6 items for sale, we sampled each one at least 4 or 5 times each. The prices average about 3 to 5 dollars for 100grams (less then 1/4 lb) and to feed my family of 5 is just out of our budget. It is fun to go for all of the free food though! :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I haven't ventured into the depachika areas for a while, they are so tempting and I always find myself parting with a lot more money then planned. I just went with a Japanese friend a couple days ago and felt like I was seeing it for the first time again, I just love these places. They were giving out samples with abandon, we were so full we didn't even need lunch. My friend and I were standing at one "store" (stall would be more appropriate) that had only 6 items for sale, we sampled each one at least 4 or 5 times each. The prices average about 3 to 5 dollars for 100grams (less then 1/4 lb) and to feed my family of 5 is just out of our budget. It is fun to go for all of the free food though! :biggrin:

We did that quite a bit when we were wandering through Ginza Matsuya and Mitsukoshi during our last trip to Japan last year. I was accompanied by my 6-year-old son, which I think allowed me to get away with acts of otherwise over-the-top greed. In fact, I read somewhere that the practice of giving out generous samples has became a rarer over the "lost decade" because of the rise of "professional" samplers with tastes more elevated than their incomes, who have learned to work the depachika floors and thus eat quite well without paying anything for it.

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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Flo is a chain (has shops in many depa-chika) with great tarts and quiches. Lenotre (at Seibu) has excellent waffles and an amazing crunchy buttery pastry called 'croquante'. Highly recommended!

Just highlights out the ubiquity of French shops in Tokyo. Flo is a very well-known Paris brasserie. (Gaston) Lenotre is a very well-known Paris caterer. A number of famous French shops seem to operate only in France itself and Tokyo. Don't know if it's a post-nouvelle cuisine thing, but there seems to be a real integration of French and Japanese food communities and even cuisines at many different levels that rivals anything else that is happening in the fusion world.

Sun-Ki Chai
http://www2.hawaii.edu/~sunki/

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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  • 3 months later...

A question for eGulleteers in JP:

A new deli from Japan will be opening shortly in San Francisco's Ferry Building Market. It's called delica RF1, and will feature something called "sozai." It's apparently a big chain in Japan and somewhat fusion-y (on the flip side, as it were). Is it any good, or just typical Mall food court quality? Anything to look for?

Thanks

Delica RF1 Announcement

Edited by Gary Soup (log)
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I think it's good stuff, although I don't know how it would compare to what's already available in San Fransisco. Certainly way better than the mall food court!

The company seems to have several different lines and everyone I've tried have been good. The salads especially- they have a special salad created by a different famous chef every month. Also like the fresh spring rolls.

My eGullet foodblog: Spring in Tokyo

My regular blog: Blue Lotus

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I think it's good stuff, although I don't know how it would compare to what's already available in San Fransisco. Certainly way better than the mall food court!

The company seems to have several different lines and everyone I've tried have been good. The salads especially- they have a special salad created by a different famous chef every month. Also like the fresh spring rolls.

Thanks, it sounds like a good fit. The Ferry Building Market Hall is a mix of specialty food shops and mostly lunchtime eateries in a historic building. It's not really a dinner destination place. I was a little skeptical because RF apparently has some 300 outlets in Japan. It'll be interesting to see how much quality control they can maintain.

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RF1 is a great shop! It has quickly become on of the staple stores of the depachikas (department store basements) and their food is really great and constantly changing.

It can get pricey when you are shopping for 5, so I usually just pick up something there when I am on my own for lunch.

As to souzai it simply means everyday dishes, the typical foods eaten everyday like the nimono (simmered foods), aemono (dressed foods), yakimono (grilled foods), etc.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 4 months later...
Phenomenal food halls are not news in Japan. They have been found in the basement level of Japanese department stores since the 1920's. Nevertheless, your first visit to a depachika, as they are known, will probably leave you speechless. Typically, it houses more than 50 independent merchants. And there are about 20 in Tokyo.

Set up as islands, rather than in long supermarket-like aisles, each showcase has its own cash register and sales staff. The glorious produce includes slender-and-straight cucumbers, verdant spinach, with soil still clinging to perfectly aligned, red-tinged roots, and flawless fruit, boxed and beribboned for gifts (yes, that 10,000-yen melon is the equivalent of about $95 at 109 yen to the dollar).

Whole Foods, Meet Your [Japanese] Match (Elizabeth Andoh) (from the NYTimes DIGEST update for the weekend of 23 April to 25 April 2004. Scroll down for the appropriate link.)

I thought Whole Foods at TWC here in New York was a bit ridiculous but apparently, as the saying goes, there are bigger fish out there... :wink:

Soba

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  • 5 months later...

The bad news on the cell-phone was that tonights dinner was cancelled. The good news was that I was just outside Isetan and the decision was made to spend the money on "depachika" food and see how well I could eat.

The objective: Can you have a Gourmet meal on pre-prepared depachika food. Besides pouring the prepared sauces no other preparation was to be allowed. No microwaves, no cutting, no slicing.

After an hour wandering around Isetan the meal consisted of

Hokkaido Uni 1,000 Yen

Fugu Sashimi 2,800 Yen

Hon-Maguro Chu-toro Sashimi 1,200 Yen

Hirame Sashimi 1,100 Yen

Grilled Fall Mushrooms 1,500 Yen

Matsuzaka Sirloin

Roast Beef with Grilled

Sweet Onion 5,000 Yen

Fruit-Cream Pastry 400 Yen

4 pices of Truffle Chocolate 1,200 Yen

Tulleys Espresso 300 Yen

Total (for one person) 14,500 Yen (Excluding Wine and Beer)

(or around US$130)

The "review"

Started out with the Hokkaido UNI and it was superb. I could have had this in any high-class restaurant and I would have been pleased with it. Served with an artisanal Dai-ginjo sake from Kyushu that was a perfect compliment

The Fugu Sashimi was up next. As always, more of a cultural than culinary experience. Served with the same sake.

Next I had the chu-toro and the Hirame Sashimi. Served with Yona-Yona Ale, one of Japans best microbrews. Good quality fish, but due to the fact that it was pre-cut the quality suffered somewhat, something it shared with the Fugu. Still, in any other country than Japan this would have been considered outstanding Sashimi and the beer was a better match than any of the standard Japanese brews would have been.

Fall grilled mushroms. OK, of all the dishes this was the one that suffered most from not being served "fresh".

The Matsuzaka Sirloin Roast Beef. Fresh roasted and I asked them to make fresh slices for me. Beautifully marbled, very tasty, wonderful. Served with a 1999 Ornellaia that was a perfect compliment to this dish.

Dessert was up next. The fruit cream-pastry and the 4 truffle chocolates were wonderful and I would not have complained if served the same at a high-class restaurant. Served with a 1994 Taylors port.

Finished the meal with a Tulleys Espresso brought in fresh from next door, served with a 25 year Old Lagavulin Whiskey. The whiskey was superb and the espresso was OK.

The "verdict".

Best "Obento"/"Bachelor" meal I have ever had. Besides the mush-room which clearly suffered from not being fresh, every other dish would not have been out of place in a good restaurant. I would also probably cut the sashimi myself next time, not a lot of extra work with improved taste (but for this time I wanted to be a "purist").

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We often construct a weekend meal from the depachika counters, especially when we're working and don't feel up to cooking; this practice is known, around our house anyway, as the "picnic" dinner. Our dinners aren't usually as luxe as Sinbad's, but I'd agree that you can construct some incredible meals without much effort.

The usual practice is to hit the big three at Ginza station (Matsuya, Mitsukoshi and Matsuzakaya), but if we're feeling like a splurge, we head for Nihonbashi and hit Takashimaya and the Mitsukoshi honten. In Shinjuku, the Isetan/Takashimaya Times Square is a nice combo, although it is a bit of a hike from Isetan to Times Square.

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  • 4 weeks later...

There has been a considerable number of discussions on depachika in the Japan Forum. But, have we discussed hoteichi before? Unfortunately, I don't have anything to talk about hoteichi because I live in such a rural town. Does anyone want to talk about it?

To learn about hoteichi, follow the link below:

http://smt.blogs.com/watashi_tokyo_magazine5/

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I have heard of Hoteichi but have never been...

sounds a little out of my price range, I can't even really afford the stuff in the depachikas... :sad:

They aren't exactly in the most convenient of places either.

I'd love to hear from someone who has been.

Actually now I am try to think of the last time I was in a hotel...... :blink:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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  • 9 months later...

Hi everyone,

I have some friends visiting soon and I wanted to take them to a good depachika. I used to be the depachika queen, but lately I just go to Seibu and Tobu in Ikebukuro, caust it's closest. I did a forum search, but I'm hoping for more current info.

About a year ago, I thought the best one was probably Matsuya in Ginza (very generous with the samples). Now I'm not so sure. So which is your favorite and why?

Thanks for your help!

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i love depachika! i have very fond memories of the food floor of woodwards department store in downtown vancouver (sadly, it is gone)...depachika brings it all back for me.

these days i am at kintetsu (osaka) almost daily. i can get the freshest produce and usually buy whatever is on sale that day. i buy all our seafood there as well. i like being able to talk to the vendors about the best way to prepare or store what ever i am buying.

sorry i cant help you with tokyo though :unsure:

"Thy food shall be thy medicine" -Hippocrates

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