This store is just like a supermarket you would find in Japan. After seven years of trading, it moved to this bigger location and people flock from all over town for its quality produce. The huge range of Japanese beer, sake, umeshu (plum wine) and shochu (Japanese spirit) attracts many customers, along with their miso and tofu, frozen sliced wagyu and pork belly, fresh gyoza, edamame and more seaweed than you can poke a stick at. Beautiful tableware tempts, along with Japanese snack foods, magazines, lollies and fresh cakes such as red bean buns, dorayaki (bean-filled pancakes), imaga wayaki (pastry filled with adzuki beans) and manju (rice cake).
South Yarra, 34A Elizabeth Street, 9826 5839. Mon-Sat 9:30am-6pm; Sun 9:30am-5pm.
Since 1979, Suzuran has been regarded as one of Melbourne's top Japanese shops. It is one of the best places to stock up on all your nori, bonito, mirin and Pocky sticks, and the adjoining sushi bar does a huge trade in California rolls and sushi platters. Their range of groceries, pickled vegetables and fresh ingredients inspire us, from gyoza wrappers, fresh tofu, sashimi-grade tuna, salmon and kingfish to sliced sukiyaki wagyu beef. There's great snack foods such as rice crackers (black sesame, plum and seaweed, prawn and spring onion), and sweet treats such as cakes flavoured with red bean, green tea and chestnut to satisfy those with a sweet tooth.
Camberwell, 1025-1027 Burke Road, 9882 2349. Tues-Thurs 9am-6pm; Fri 9am-8pm; Sat 9am-7pm; Sun 10am-3:30pm. www.suzuran.com.au
For 25 years, this establishment has provided locals with top-quality Japanese groceries, fresh suchi and meals, plus alcoholic beverages. Most of the space is given over to groceries and it's immaculately well laid out and a pleasure to shop at. From staples such as noodles, rice, mirin, seaweed and miso, to all manner of goodies such as wasabi, Japanese mayonnaisem rice crackers and shabu shabu as well as edamame and gyoza. Drink-wise, there is plenty of sake and Japanese beers such as Kirin, Sapporo and asahi, and oodles of tea, including green tea every which way.
Elsternwick, 418 Glen Huntly Road, 9523 6200. Mon-Fri 10am-7pm; Sat & Sun 10am-5pm. www.tokyodeli.com.au
Formosa Asian Market
They've crammed lots of goodies into this small Japanese supermarket, including one of the widest ranges of authentic sauces we've seen in Brisbane. Whether you need koikuchi soy sauce, the saltier, lighter usukuchi or almost any other kind of soy, or a delightful squeezy bottle of Kewpie mayonnaise, yakisoba or okanomi sauce, it's here. You'll also find all the ingredients for making sushi at home: a variety of sushi rice, nori sheets, rice vinegar and pickled ginger. Not a budding sushi chef? The snacks alone make it worth a visit – think garlic wasabi peas, mochi cakes and the Japanese favourite, 'Meiji' brand of chocolate.
Sunnybank, Shop 88, Sunnybank Plaza, cnr Mains Road & McCullough Street, 3344 5886. Mon-Fri 8:30am-7pm; Sat & Sun 8:30-6:30pm.
Garboro Asian Supermarket
Garboro is nestled in a time-forgotten nook in Chinatown. Don't overlook it as shoppers in the know come for the extensive selection of South-East Asian staples. The place is packed with a range of Filipino, Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, Japanese and Malaysian products. Lots of items are available in bulk so large families benefit. Apart from groceries, there is a small seasonal produce section with vegetables and fruit; and a freezer packed with dumplings, dim sum, exotic fruits, seafood and root vegetables. Need more authentic Asian kitchen items? You'll find all the claypots, cleavers, chopsticks, woks, crockery and bamboo steamers you'll ever need here.
Fortitude Valley, Great Wall Shopping Centre, 6 Marshall Street, 3852 1946. Mon-Fri 9am-5:30pm; Sat 9am-5pm; Sun 9:30am-4:30pm.
Asian Food Market
This massive barn has two distinct areas and some of the cheapest prices in town. The supermarket part of the store carries whole-priced super-sizes of staples such as rice, cornflour and oil. Then there are dried bean curd sticks, pork buns and even the frozen dough to make godamba roti at home; there are noodles, sambals, teas, sauces and meat, all sitting alongside crockery, teapots and steamers. Next door, in the "wet" area, crates are stacked high with whole fish and live seafood (think snapper, salmon, bonito, trevally, mullet, whitebait and live mud crabs). Choose a whole fish and the staff will clean and fillet it for you,
Blacktown, 1 George Street, 9831 4983. Mon-Fri 9am-7pm; Sat 8:30am-6pm; Sun 9am-5pm.
Best Value Supermarket
Probably the largest Asian supermarket in central Bankstown, Best Value really does represent some good, if not strictly best, value for all your Asian food requirements. With a heady array of fish and soy sauces, jars of fermented shrimp, Asian kitchen accessories and a truly vast selection of packet mushrooms and frozen dumplings, this place is sure to induce you to buy some obscure condiment and give it a go. Of particular note is the huge selection of marbled, thinly sliced beef, popular in Korean barbecue. To the untrained eye, the gradations between the expensive and cheaper varieties seem somewhat inscrutable, but we wouldn't deny their essential deliciousness.
Fortune Abalone is for serious abalone lovers – you can tell by the wicker baskets boasting huge dried abalone, some bigger than the size of your hand. Abalone is available dried, tinned or frozen, and luxury gift boxes are aimed at high-end customers. Whole bird's nests, Japanese dried scallops and New Zealand deer sinew are held in gleaming glass canisters. In the freezer are packets of crocodile meat with scales still attached, but our most intriguing find was the essence of kangaroo capsules, extracted from male kangaroo muscle and believed to improve male virility. Also at: Shop 1, The Gallery, 445-447 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood, 9412 3188.
Haymarket, Shop C, 438 Sussex Street, 9212 6228. Daily 9am-7:30pm.
Jasmine Asia Market
Tucked into a corner of a bustling shopping centre is this quaint supermarket dedicated to all things Asian. The Japanese lines are particularly good, with unusual soft drinks and crazy sweets, plus a great selection of miso paste, nori paper, sushi rice, mirin and dashi bases. You can also source products from China, Korea, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan – noodles, teas, meal bases and sauces in particular – and there's a good choice of Asian spices, preserved mushrooms and dried fish. Also at: 194 Burwood Road, Burwood, 9715 6868; Shop 14 Dee Why Grand, 15-19 Pacific Parade, Dee Why, 9982 8499.
Maroubra, Shop 19, Pacific Square Shopping Centre, 737 Anzac Parade, 9349 6686. Sun-Wed & Fri 9am-7pm; Thurs & Sat 9am-8pm.
New Yen Yen Supermarket
The range at New Yen Yen is really what sets it apart – even seasoned Asian grocery shoppers will find themselves marvelling at the extensive variety on the shelves. There are supplies and ingredients for steamboat, aisles of condiments, dozens upon dozens of frozen dumplings, popular Asian ice-creams, fresh vegetables and herbs, a big section of Korean and Japanese goods and, fascinatingly, a range of vacuum-packed snacks from chicken's feet to duck necks. To round out the variety, there is also a selection of over 20 Chinese, Japanese and Korean rice wines, shochu and sake. Anything and everything you'll need to create an Asian feast. Also at: Shop 6, 25 Lakeside Road, Eastwood, 9804 0988; Top Ryde City Shopping Centre, cnr Devlin Street & Blaxland Road, Ryde, 9807 1932.
Haymarket TG9/8 Quay Street, 9280 0302. Daily 9am-8pm.
Randwick Oriental Supermarket
Judging by the numbers of Asian students prowling the aisles of this excellent supermarket, it is both economical and comprehensive. And while it's not as big or as spacious as Maroubra's Sun Li, there must be nearly everything one could need for Asian cookery in this one spot. Go for the massive variety of instant noodles, cooking sauces, meal bases, rice, super-fresh Asian greens, teas, tofus and frozen goods, including rice paper wrappers, sliced beef and fish balls. While many of the products come from China, there's also a share from Indonesia, Malaysia and Taiwan. Also at: 500 Anzac Parade, Kingsford, 9313 7127.
Randwick, Shop 1 57-63 Belmore Road, 9389 2192. Daily 8:30am-8pm. www.randwickoriental.com.au
Once you cross from the Northbridge Plaza into this sprawling supermarket, it's easy to imagine you've left Australia for Osaka. In fact, unless you read Japanese, you'll have no idea what 20 per cent discounts the specials sign spruiks. Come here for everything Nippon: some 2000 products ranging from yakitori sauce to yuzu dressing, 10kg rice bags, pickled vegetables and every type of soba and ramen imaginable. There are also Japanese sweets, ceramic bowls and a sizeable sake selection, while the refrigerator section touts wagyu cuts, mushrooms, kimchi and more. Some of the best perve factor comes via a display case of Japanese knives, understandably under lock and key.
Northbridge, Shop 27, Northbridge Plaza, 113 Sailors Bay Road, 9958 6860. Mon-Wed & Fri 9am-5:30pm; Thurs 9am-6:30pm; Sat 9am-6pm; Sun 10am-4pm. www.tokyomart.com.au