There’s an unassuming storefront on 6th Avenue that you may have passed by in the last year without realizing what you were missing. Thanks to construction scaffolding and the tiny paper signs in the windows, you may have glanced at the reflective glass facade without stopping to take another look. What did you miss? Yamadaya, a new Japanese variety store in Greenwich Village.
Not to be confused with Dainobu, another Japanese market just two blocks north, Yamadaya is much larger. They also specialize in different products than Dainobu, although there is definitely some overlap between the two stores. What’s impressive about Yamadaya is the selection. A self-described variety store, Yamadaya lives up to the “variety” part.
When I visited Yamadaya last week, two employees greeted me at the front entrance. I read some reviews online where people were claiming that the staff was pushy or unfriendly, but that wasn’t my experience at all. The first thing that struck me was the impressive display of fresh miso paste, including organic options. As I walked further back into the store, I couldn’t believe how many aisles there were, all neatly organized and well-lit.
An entire wall was dedicated to socks! In the back of the store, you can find household items, including kitchenware. Yelpers compared Yamadaya to Costco and Target - it’s not that big, and yet, I understand the comparison. New York City has several Japanese stores selling imported products, but they rarely offer an inventory of this size and range. The candy section alone is worth a visit.
Japanese speakers might have an easier time shopping for some of the products as the packaging may not have translations available. But for the most part, I saw stickers on the back with English ingredients listed. I ended up buying a package of organic roasted seaweed and some Sencha green tea. If I had more time, I probably would have wandered the aisles longer.
Looking for more places in New York City to shop for Japanese products? There’s a new TenIchi Mart store in Williamsburg that just opened a couple of months ago. I visited their shop on Smith Street in Cobble Hill earlier this year (a great place for bento boxes). Comparable in size to Yamadaya, there’s Sunrise Mart at Japan Village in Industry City. Plan a visit before September 30, and you can catch this year's Cow Parade.
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