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For the Chef: How to Stock a Japan-Centric Pantry

All the yuzu you can handle.

In the Bar Tartine Japanese pantry:

Top row, from left: dried beef; kombu; iriko (dried minnows).

Middle row, from left: fresh wasabi; karasumi (dried fish roe); shiitake mushrooms; dried tuna loin, which gets shaved on vegetable dishes.

Bottom row: katsuobushi, or dried, fermented, smoked tuna.


This story is part of the March feature "Why San Francisco’s Food Scene Is Truly, Madly, Deeply Obsessed with Japan." Read it here.

For sake: Takara Sake USA

“Our sake lees come from Takara Sake in Berkeley,” says Corey Lee of Benu. “While we’ve used them for fermenting, they’ve also appeared on our menu as sake lees sherbet.” 708 Addison St. (at 4th St.), Berkeley, 510-540-8250

For produce: Hamada Farms
Almost every chef goes to Hamada Farms at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market for Japanese produce. “They grow yuzu and sudachi,” says Staffan Terje of Perbacco, “so we use that when it’s in season, and they also sell ume (sour plums), and persimmons for hoshigaki (dried persimmon).”

For the pantry: Aedan Fermented Foods
After the 2011 tsunami struck Japan, Mariko Grady relocated to San Francisco and eventually started Aedan to produce natural fermented products. Today, through La Cocina, Grady sells four kinds of miso (including a soy-free version made from chickpeas), as well as shio koji (salted koji), sagohachi (a pickling sauce), and amazake (a Japanese rice-based sweetener).

For rice by the ton: Nijiya Market
With multiple locations across the United States, including in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, this is your one-stop shop for everything from sushi fixings to Japanese produce. Want a massive bag of rice? They have it. Frozen salted mackerel? They have that, too. 1737 Post St. (at Webster St.), 415-563-1901

For fish: Tokyo Fish Market
What started out in 1963 as a mom-and-pop opened by Isamu and Tazuye Fujita has become an institution to which both chefs and lay cooks still go for high-quality fish. 1220 San Pablo Ave. (near Harrison St.), Albany, 510-524-7243

For seaweed: Strong Arm Farm
This Sonoma-based farm harvests seaweeds from the Sonoma-Mendocino coast, including nori, wakame, and kombu. “The nori is really delicate,” says Brett Cooper of Aster. “We toast it and crumble it and then put it with an egg dish.”

For tableware: Umami Mart
For all your barware needs, including sake glasses, teardrop bar spoons, and jiggers, this Japan-centric Oakland-based shop is the place to be. Also on offer: togarashi (a peppery spice mix), teacups, and the elusive green tea Kit Kat. 815 Broadway (Near 8th St.), Oakland, 510-250-9559

Originally published in the March issue of
San Francisco

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