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Buying Japanese snacks online from the US
May 30, 2013 7:00 AM   Subscribe

Where can I buy Japanese snacks online that is not AsianFoodGrocer.com or Jlist/Jbox, with reasonable US shipping costs?

I repeatedly tried to order from AsianFoodGrocer. First, the website lost my order. Then, they "forgot" to charge me shipping somehow, and it took them 4 days to discover this problem, and they cancelled my order. Now it's going to take 1-2 weeks for me to get a refund. I really am annoyed and don't want to go through the process of putting in my order a third time.

I then went to Jbox (the SFW version of Jlist, where I've ordered from successfully in the past) and picked out some snacks, but between items shipping from the US and from Japan, it's going to cost over $35 in shipping. I don't mind paying money for shipping, but $35 just seems excessive.

Other stores I've looked at online, like Hmart, don't have the variety. Amazon's sellers seem to offer ridiculous shipping prices, and I don't want to get a big "assortment pack" - I want to customize what's in it. I do not have a physical Japanese or Asian market within an hour of me.

What I'm looking for in a store:
Traditional brands and foods like Pocky (not strawberry or chocolate - the flavors you can only get in Japan), Meiji, Lotte, Collon, kompeito, milk candy, mochi, sakura tea, various flavors of furikake, something umeboshi-flavored.
But also traditional American brands with foreign-exclusive flavors, like green tea KitKats and Oreos, and Pepsi Special, and things like that.

Jbox has the perfect mix, but the shipping is just so high. If you have personal experience with a store, that would be perfect.

My neighbor already guessed that I was getting her a bento box for graduation (not a cheap $2 box, a really nice $40 one), and I'd really like to throw in a surprise for her, and I thought Japanese snacks would be a great idea. Please help!
posted by IndigoRain to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Amazon does seem to sell plenty of Japanese snacks that they fulfill themselves, which means you can get free Super Saver shipping if you spend enough.
posted by mkultra at 7:05 AM on May 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just find a local lotte market, and you can get them cheaper. Or any Asian grocer. Just look it up on google. I used to be you, but now I enjoy my treats so much more often, and tons more! I've gotten addicted to green tea popsicles.
posted by squirbel at 7:05 AM on May 30, 2013


I do not have a physical Japanese or Asian market within an hour of me.

Are you absolutely certain about that? Often there will be small corner stores that cater to neighborhoods with niche immigrant populations, or import sections of particularly large stores. Perhaps you have a World Market? Or something similar?

I clicked on your profile to check your location, went to the google maps link, and typed "asian market" into the second box on the directions tab. It came up with something called "Terene Variety Storeā€Ž" a thirty minute drive away, which a cached yelp review claims to be mostly Filipino products. A "variety store" is the sort of little shop I'm talking about, that perhaps is not so focused as to only have products from one country, but might have something to your liking.

Also, there's apparently a Lotte 3 hours away in Michigan. And I know that might seem totally crazy, but if you're not willing to pay $35 shipping, and you love products of the type Lotte has, you might think the trip is worthwhile.
posted by Mizu at 7:25 AM on May 30, 2013


You could try your luck with efooddepot.com. I've used them quite a lot and have never had problems with them getting my order wrong, but the consumer complaints you see about expired product are, IME, valid (it's just I'm not super fussy about expiration dates). Shipping is a flat $7, their prices are quite reasonable, and their Japanese selection is enormous. Pro-tip is that products on sale are more likely to be out-of-date.
posted by drlith at 7:35 AM on May 30, 2013


Mitsuwa Market will ship, but I haven't checked to see what their shipping rates are like. I have a market near me; they are large stores with a huge selection of products and it looks like the web site has a good variety, too.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:00 AM on May 30, 2013


You could always try White Rabbit Express.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:02 AM on May 30, 2013


If your location is correct there's a Mitsuwa just about an hour and a half drive up interstate 90. I've been to that one several times and they have a pretty big snack selection. Be sure to get lunch at the fantastic ramen place in the food court.
posted by theodolite at 8:06 AM on May 30, 2013


I haven't ordered from them in a few years, but I've had great experiences with napaJapan. The site navigation is admittedly awkward, but they do focus specifically on the kinds of things you're looking for. Shipping might be too expensive there too (they ship from Japan) but at least they calculate the shipping on the fly as you add items, so you can tell immediately if you added something that bumps the shipping costs way up.
posted by jessypie at 8:08 AM on May 30, 2013


mkultra: "Amazon does seem to sell plenty of Japanese snacks that they fulfill themselves, which means you can get free Super Saver shipping if you spend enough."

Mkultra, the problem with that link is that even the very first item, once you click through, shows that you need to pay $7.25 shipping because it is from another seller. It's crazy annoying that there is no way to tell before you click through to the product page. And their prices are a bit high... that 2oz dried squid a couple of items down at $6.04? Sells on AsianFoodGrocer for $2.18.

Thank you, those who have recommended other stores... I spent a lot of time Googling this morning and I didn't find any of those stores except for efooddepot (and I already knew about Mitsuwa). I was hoping you all might know some other sites and you didn't let me down! Also, I had no idea Mitsuwa offered online shopping!

Alas, going on a whole-day trip to Chicago (trust me, Mitsuwa would be a whole-day trip, I would be in heaven) or a 3-hour one-way drive to Michigan is not an option at this time. My mom is sick and I don't like to leave her that long, and she's not able to travel that far.

Still welcoming any other suggestions!
posted by IndigoRain at 8:37 AM on May 30, 2013


Is this for a one-time need (gift for your friend) or ongoing general grocery shopping? I ask because it occurs to me that there are stores in my town that sell these items, and I bet that's true for other Mefites as well, especially the ones on the west coast. Cans of soda might be expensive to mail because they are heavy, but most of what you list is pretty lightweight.
posted by Houstonian at 8:41 AM on May 30, 2013


Every time I go to my local Asian grocery's web site to look up the hours, I find myself saying, "huh, I didn't know they did e-commerce..."

United Noodle

Looks like shipping is pretty high, but if you get enough stuff, it may be worth it.
posted by advicepig at 8:41 AM on May 30, 2013



mkultra: "Amazon does seem to sell plenty of Japanese snacks that they fulfill themselves, which means you can get free Super Saver shipping if you spend enough."

Mkultra, the problem with that link is that even the very first item, once you click through, shows that you need to pay $7.25 shipping because it is from another seller. It's crazy annoying that there is no way to tell before you click through to the product page. And their prices are a bit high... that 2oz dried squid a couple of items down at $6.04? Sells on AsianFoodGrocer for $2.18.


If you click on the "Prime Eligible" button on the Amazon link, you will see items shipped directly from Amazon-even if you don't have Amazon Prime, those same items will qualify for free shipping over $25. It will, of course, be a smaller selection, but using that exact link, there are still over 500 choices.
posted by atomicstone at 8:42 AM on May 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Houstonian, just a one-time need for now, although of course I'd like to try more Japanese snacks in the future, maybe once a year or so.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:43 AM on May 30, 2013


If you want to post a list, I'll see how much of it I can find at the store tomorrow or Saturday.
posted by Houstonian at 8:45 AM on May 30, 2013


have you looked at ebay for Japan specific snacks? There are plenty of sellers who regularly stock things like kit kats, pringles, oreos, etc.

A number of them have items listed as "buy it now" and a lot have free shipping.
posted by Julnyes at 10:49 AM on May 30, 2013


$35 is really on the low side for international shipping. I'm a member of a LiveJournal snack-swapping community, and my shipments to the UK, Australia, and Japan routinely cost $60-$70 US just for shipping.
posted by xedrik at 3:17 PM on May 30, 2013


Well, complicating the situation is that $35 is the cheapest option and will take 3-6 weeks. Her open house is in 4 weeks. It would be a risk.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:31 PM on May 30, 2013


I'm not familiar with ordering Japanese snacks online (in my major metro area there are a lot of the small Chinese / Korean / Japanese shops that sell a lot of this stuff), but am from Los Angeles, where on a recent visit had a great time at Marukai's.

I find they are online, and ship (even to Canada and Mexico), but can't vouch for inexpensive shipping, alas.

Marukai e-store
posted by scooterdog at 7:57 AM on May 31, 2013


IndigoRain: "Mkultra, the problem with that link is that even the very first item, once you click through, shows that you need to pay $7.25 shipping because it is from another seller. It's crazy annoying that there is no way to tell before you click through to the product page. And their prices are a bit high... that 2oz dried squid a couple of items down at $6.04? Sells on AsianFoodGrocer for $2.18."

Ah, OK, I'm a Prime customer, so almost all of it shows up as fulfilled by Amazon.com.
posted by mkultra at 5:13 PM on May 31, 2013


I'm really liking Marukai and leaning toward ordering from there. While the shipping is still somewhat high at ~$22 (for the particular order in my cart awaiting purchase), they do ship from within the US and you get your order within a week. I am just waiting for my paycheck and I will probably order from them this week.

Also I think I will order from NapaJapan in the future - they have some things like exotic flavors of Pringles that I haven't seen in other stores.

Thanks again everyone!
posted by IndigoRain at 7:32 PM on June 5, 2013


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