March 28 2005 - 5:04 PM


It used to be called Yaohan. It is a Japanese grocery/kitchen store/food court. They have stores in California, New Jersey and Arlington Heights, Illinois.

Before I really got into food I was somewhat-obsessive about toys. So up until 4 years ago I had been buying udon in the food court and Godzilla bandai snap-together candy toys at the grocery store known now as Mitsuwa.

Instead of Tetsujin pariphanallia I buy dumpling sauce, dried noodles, frozen noodles, mushrooms, and things that I can’t explain.

MushtextNeedless to say I don’t ask the proper questions usually because I don’t know what those questions are. There are hundreds of sauces, dozens of soy sauces, dried noodles, frozen noodles, whole wheat noodles, seemingly mechanical bull for sale identical items that have a 30-40% price difference (Japanese brands?). My trick is to loiter and buy what others seem to buy or if I can figure out a question – “Which is the best soy sauce for cooking? Rice vinegar?” etc.

Undoubtably there will be items that I must buy because I can’t guess what they are or the packaging is so fricken cool that I need it (remember orbitz soda?).

I got a shot of some mushrooms that look great and I’m sure will make it into a soup or stir-fry but for the sake of the moment it will be the first Chicago Foodies trivia question… what are they and what SHOULD they be used for? See Pic.

The refrigerated udon noodles are awesome. The sesame oil is the best sesame oil I’ve ever had, Shirakiku, and their dumpling sauce selection is great however I always end up buying something that I see at the Devon Market 3 days later.

Mitsuwa is a great way to kill 2 hours. You can get soup to break up your oblivious wandering through what children may think of a grocery store. There are so many colors and shapes and things that look great but whose function is almost unknowable. I have half a mind to schedule a tour with a translator but I don’t want to ruin Mitsuwa’s mysterious fantastic quality.

100 E. Algonquin Road,
Arlington Hts., IL 60005
9:00AM – 8:00PM