Depachika is a food paradise?

26 Aug

Basically Japanese people who work in the city have to spend a lot of time at work and less time at home. Overtime work is very normal. I’m afraid there are not many workers who can leave office at 5pm everyday. Most of full-time employees would work 9-7 or 9-9 or they may have to work on weekends too to cover their workload. This happens because work sharing has not become popular in this country. Each employee has to cope with the workload of 1.5 people, for example.

Well that’s not the main topic in this post. Reflecting such background, delicatessens are very popular. When we finish work at 7 or 8pm and take 1 hour to go back from the office to home, (Spending nearly 1 hour for commuting is quite normal in Tokyo area. Some even take nearly 2 hours!) do you think we feel like spending another 1 hour for cooking? If we did that, the dinner can be 10pm or something and that’s too much of labor and no free time left!

That’s why depachika, or department of delicatessens is popular. Delicatessens from depachika are not expensive compared with eating out at restaurants, but require no need of cooking, and they tast good. It’s called Nakashoku. “Naka” means something in-between. “Shoku” means meals or foods. Delicatessens from depachika are considered meals between eating-out and home cooking. It’s also true that we want to eat relaxed at home rather than at a restaurant outside especially after working 10 hours, for example. If we buy only main and side dishes from depachika and prepare rice at home, we can even save some money. haha…^ ^;

Depachika usually has variety of cuisines and sweets. But the difference is that their foods must be easy to be carried away and still taste good after hours later. Thus, basically they don’t have noodles. Well, they may do but I’d avoid it anyhow. ^ ^;

The pictures are from the depachika in Lazona Kawasaki.

Some packed bentos.

Delicatessen is called “Osouzai” or just “Souzai” in Japanese. (“O” is added to make it sound more elegant, but it’s actually “souzai”.) Here are some souzais. (It sounds weird to make a Japanese word plural form because we don’t have this notion. Am I supposed to write “bentos” and “sozais” as plural form of “bento” and “sozai”? )

Tonkatsu special corner

Sushi special corner. We can eat sushi a lot cheaper than we do at authentic sushi restaurants. Actually most of us rarely can go eat at authentic sushi restaurant. We may get these affordable packed sushi from depachika or supermarket or Kaitenzushi (sushi-go-round restaurant).

Tempura special corner.

Unagi special corner.

Chinese special corner. We love Chinese food just as much as you! I think Chinese and Italian cuisines are most popular among other foreign cuisines in Japan.

Gyoza special corner.

I found kawaii set of Butaman (steamed pork buns). ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t you think they are too cute to be eaten? XD

Don’t forget to get some vegetables or Japanese pickles, too.

You can get delicatessens at local supermarkets cheaper, and it does not always mean deli from depachika tastes better than that from supermarket only because it’s more expensive. I had experiences that deli from depachika tasted terrible for the money I spent!

Anyhow, I have two contradicting thoughts:
1) I want to have a free passport to my favorite depachika!
2) I wonder how the unsold food is treated. Sometimes even after time sale (to reduce the dead stock of food) is over, there are still some left. These must be consumed in the same day. I wish they were not just dumped as garbage. I wonder if the unsold food can be given to homeless people or homeless dogs…This is my strongest concern. When people are dying from no food on the other side of the globe, how can we waste food if it’s still edible?

Every time I walk around depachika, I am suffering from those 2 complex feelings. How about you?

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42 Responses to “Depachika is a food paradise?”

  1. sedonia2 August 26, 2010 at 2:35 pm #

    wow, that all looked delicious! And yes those pork buns were very kawaii. I was laughing when I looked at them. We have some places that are kind of like this in the states with the specialized areas for this and that, but I've never seen anything quite like this! I'd go crazy in there, lol. I wouldn't know where to begin! I'd be in heaven.

    • kirin August 27, 2010 at 1:41 am #

      Ahahaha ^ ^ Depachika is usually located at the basement level of department stores. I'm sure you'll find it so fun even to look around various kind of foods and sweets there. Depachika is very popular in the city are in Japan, as there are many people who shop there to go. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Julie August 26, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    I was thinking the same thing yesterday while I was looking at my bananas getting speckled. I started to think about how many bananas they have at the store that aren't eaten. I really hope they give the food to people who need it.

    • kirin August 27, 2010 at 1:43 am #

      I'd feel the same way as you did.
      I've been curious what happens to the unsold food since I was a little kid, but somehow I couldn't ask or search for that. One reason can be that I don't want to be shocked to hear that they are just thrown away. I don't want to think about that, but I am not sure if they give the food to homeless people… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  3. Suzy August 26, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    Food ….glorious Food ! It bugs me too if they just throw some good food out in the garbage just like that. Good review, Kirin !
    I have always love reading your blog, especially those on Kawaii TV.

    • kirin August 27, 2010 at 1:49 am #

      Thank you, Suzy! ๐Ÿ˜€
      "It bugs me"…I learned how to illustrate the situation. I can still learn English from exchanging comments! ^ ^

      • Suzy September 1, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

        Dear kawaii kirin, the "It bugs me" – it's a north american slang which literally means – disturbed by a situation n_n

      • kirin September 2, 2010 at 6:55 am #

        Thank you for your further comment.
        My English and spelling is quite mixed up with both American and British ways. ^ ^;; But I speak very standard Japanese, though. lol

  4. Apple August 26, 2010 at 6:21 pm #

    I love Japan's Depachika!!!!

    So many wonderful food at discounted prices after 9pm! I always buy something from Depachika when I'm in Japan at night before returning to the hotel. Hahahah! We can save a lot of money and eat many good food in the hotel room like this! Love to indulge like this when I'm on holiday! There is just something really fun about eating delicious food inside your hotel room! Haha! (But of course we make sure not to mess up the place too, so we usually buy food which can be eaten easily and has no soup/liquid).

    • kirin August 27, 2010 at 2:00 am #

      Sounds like a nice idea!
      Reading your comment made me think of something fancy. Tokyo for me is a place to lead everyday's life and it's also a place to work. But what if I located myself in a center of Tokyo as if I were a tourist and indulged myself with what Tokyo can offer me? I noticed something…Tokyo maybe more fun if I explore it as a place to travel. Now I see why so many foreigners (like you) like to come back to Tokyo repeatedly. Tokyo as a place to daily life is not that exciting. I think I can enjoy it much more if I stay there as a guest!

      Whenever I travel, I think of the place as far from Tokyo as possible, but it can be even more fun to stay at a hotel in Tokyo and spend the time like tourists would do. I like to have extraordinary experiences from time to time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Emily August 26, 2010 at 6:34 pm #

    We don't have such a huge selection that you guys have but we have similar things here in the States. I'd love to find something that looks so good here ๐Ÿ˜€ I tried some pre-made sushi at Meijer's once and it was awful!! The sushi at Tokyo Steakhouse is a lot better! lol

    Hope you and the cute little doggy are well ๐Ÿ™‚

    • kirin August 27, 2010 at 2:03 am #

      Thank you Emily. It looks like Pi-chan is going through a rebellious period. She pee-pees on the carpet, away from her toilet several times although she knows 100% where she should do that. She does that especially when she feels ignored by us.

  6. Walter6735 August 26, 2010 at 7:30 pm #

    Thanks for the post, Kirin ๐Ÿ™‚
    Basically , if I don't want to eat at a restaurant and save a little money, I just go to the depachika and buy it there ?

    An unagi corner ? a tempura corner ? A tonkatsu corner ? Wow that sushi is reasonably priced !
    You can get like two plates at the Kaitenzushi for that ๐Ÿ™‚

    There will always be leftover food , but transporting or giving it away it is too costly.
    The cost of the remainder is already paid for by the regular sales.
    tough, but that's the way it is.

    • kirin August 27, 2010 at 2:06 am #

      Oh but it's not the problem of money. Wasting the food that we can still eat is not nice, while many people are suffering from jobless or homeless. I'm so sad about that. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  7. Troo August 26, 2010 at 8:29 pm #

    I'd say that words like bento, souzai, etc work fine as both plural and singular in english. E.g. "Here are some bento", rather than "here are some bentos". It's a loanword for us, so can bring its own rules with it ๐Ÿ˜€

    English has several words which are the same pluralised as singular, so it won't sound odd.

    • kirin August 27, 2010 at 2:09 am #

      Thank you for your advice. ๐Ÿ™‚
      Plural and singular is one of the most difficult parts in English to me. ^ ^;

  8. Tinny August 26, 2010 at 8:50 pm #

    We have something like this in Finland too, just not on such a big scale! You can buy things like fried salmon or different casseroles, cabbage rolls and salads from many supermarkets. I'm not sure how popular that is, I'd imagine a lot of busy people like it, and I often see elderly people buying ready cooked food too. I guess they don't always feel like cooking for just one or two people every day!

    I'm also concerned about what is done with the leftover food. I know some stores donate packaged food that is left over to charities, but I'm not sure if they are allowed to do that with food that has been sitting unpackaged in the counter (ready cooked food is rarely packed here, you go to the counter and ask for the amount you want)… Although, I do think the stores know approximately how much of something will sell, and only prepare/order a sort of "minimum" amount, because having to throw food away costs them money, too.

  9. Steven Stier August 27, 2010 at 1:15 am #

    Many restaurants in America donate food to homeless shelters. When the produce or meat is no longer fresh but still safe to eat they also donate food to a food bank. A food bank is a place where unemployed or low income people can get free food that is donated by restaurants and grocery stores. Of course a lot of food is thrown away. There is a new fad in America, called dumpster diving. People go to the back of expensive restaurants and look for uneaten food that has been thrown away. Not only homeless people but also many young people with the money to buy food but find this sort of thing exciting. And much of the food is better than anything they could afford to buy. Does the expression "Crazy Americans" come to mind? I guess it is similar to the Japanese shopping for items that have been left on the curb on trash day. Would you do such a thing?

    • kirin August 27, 2010 at 2:19 am #

      I've heard that homeless people go check the back yard of the restaurants to eat such left-over food. That's why sometimes these people can be even fat from high calorie food.

      A food bank is a good concept. I don't think we have such a system in Japan…
      That however makes those people reply on it too much and they don't bother to work for food? ^ ^;

      • Steven Stier August 29, 2010 at 12:56 pm #

        I think I placed a reply to this comment in the wrong place. Sorry.

      • kirin August 30, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

        Never mind, thank you for your comments!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  10. Junko August 27, 2010 at 1:46 am #

    i wish we had a store like that, all the food looks so nice and yummy!

    • Steven Stier August 29, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

      I am sure that there are some people that take advantage of food banks and other social programs. But just like in Japan, most people have too much pride to rely on these things for too long. So food banks are used as a short term way of surviving until someone can become self reliant once again. I am not failure with the food banks terms of use. But I do know that their resources are very limited and they are non profit organizations.

  11. Sharon August 27, 2010 at 3:23 am #

    WAHHHHH THAT IS HEAVEN ! ALL THOSE JAPANESE FOOD TO EAT……one day if i go to japan i will have them…but ouch i just remembered i turned vegetarian (only 2 months till now)…i feel like crying )': haha.
    totally diminished my thoughts on wanting to go vegan too.

    but we have these kind (depachika) here but lesser japanese food, Takashimaya (i think theres some place in japan have it as well)…and what i like most is the red bean fish pancake !they look so cute too !Taiyaki is the name i just googled.

    cant the employees take back the leftovers? and donate some children home or homeless shelter…and a food bank like Steven(above) said is a really good idea.. better than wasting it totally.

    • kirin August 27, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

      Wow, you're going to be a vegan!? You made such a big decision. @w@
      Takashimaya is Japanese department store and Taiyaki!! haha ^ ^ Nice~~.

      I guess the employees will do so, but I've never worked there and so I don't know the truth. haha… ^ ^;

      • Sharon August 29, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

        trying my best ๐Ÿ˜€ but i can see myself going vegan within this year or something ^^

  12. Amanda August 27, 2010 at 4:21 am #

    Itadakimasu! That all looks so amazing, and it's really built up my appetite!

    You have an awesome blog and I am here to stay. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • kirin August 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

      Thank you Amanda. ๐Ÿ˜€
      Actually it's not a good idea to shop at Depachika when we are hungry. We'd shop more than we need! ^ ^;

      I was not searching this but I happened to find this page. It seems to focus on sweets and irregular items that are treated for limited time. http://www.depachika.com/

  13. Tinny August 27, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    I don't think Finnish food is very popular anywhere outside Finland… At least the "traditional" sort of food. We don't have any very sophisticated or exciting traditional foods, mostly because Finland was so poor for such a long time and we are so up north that many things won't grow here. It is all very different from Japanese food, except that we too use a lot of fish.

    Italian, French, and Chinese food are everywhere now, all over the world. We have a lot of Nepalese restaurants too, where I live. I can think of only one place now that calls itself a "Finnish restaurant", but that is mainly for the tourists, I think…

    • kirin August 27, 2010 at 3:07 pm #

      Nepalese!? I've never even tried it before. ^ ^;
      BTW I fell in love with Kantele, how it sounds. I want to learn it but I cannot find a class in Tokyo. It's not popular at all in Japan. If I go to Finland, do you have a class for Kantele? I've never been to any Scandinavian countries but I am interested in visiting Finland during summer and learn how to play Kantele and buy it to bring back home so I can play it in my house. Is Kantele expensive?

      • Tinny August 27, 2010 at 8:43 pm #

        I can find out about the classes and send you an email if you like. If not classes, there are a lot of books available for teaching yourself how to play.

        I don't know how much would be expensive, but at this website http://www.koistinenkantele.fi/eng/index.htm they show different models and how much they cost. I think those prices are a pretty good example. The website has other information about kantele as well that might be helpful in choosing the kind of model that would be best for you. If you don't want to spend very much, but still want to enjoy the sound, even the 5-string model is pretty nice. I have a 5-string kantele myself, though I haven't played it in ages! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • kirin August 28, 2010 at 12:26 am #

        Thank you so much, Tinny!! I have no idea when I can really visit Finland (must be sometime during summer, ^ ^ ) but I'd be grateful if you could send me an email from the contact form or "kirin [at] tokyokawaiietc.com"

        I got to know Kantele only the other day because one of a Finnish readers kindly left me a comment that I will like it as I can play Koto (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXklbUFNob4). When I first heard the tone of Kantele, I fell in love with it. To be honest, I liked the tone a lot more than Koto!

        I'll bookmark the link and check it out when I have free time. Thank you so much for sharing this. ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€ ๐Ÿ˜€
        It's very interesting we can have options of how many strings for Kantele.

        When I take a class, I wonder if there are any classes for tourists. Or should I stay in Finland for a month for example? Anyhow I look forward to your email. You can take time, as it'll be anyhow after next summer that I can visit Finland as I missed this year. I suppose it's not warm any more over there, while Tokyo is still as hot as over 30 degrees everyday! ^ ^;

  14. Amanda August 27, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    :O There's another Amanda! I've been replaced! ๐Ÿ˜›

    I think it's worth asking the shop owners, I'm sure they care too. ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm sure they would give it away if they could, and if they can't there must be some reason.

    I know a bakery near my house gives their leftovers away because I see the charity picking it up. We have a thing here in Australia called Food Bank (http://www.foodbank.com.au/) It's similar to what it sounds like. Big buildings in each state where the large supermarket chains drop off the packaged and fresh food they can't sell. Like, sometimes the skin on a fruit won't be perfect and people won't buy it even though underneath that the fruit is just fine. Charities go to the food bank and can take food for the people they are looking after. Unfortunately there are more hungry people than food.

    I was listening to the radio the other day and they were talking about the hunger problem in Australia. There are lots of people who earn money but not enough to pay all of their bills. So they have to make a choice and often have to choose to go without food so they can pay their rent etc. It's interesting because we often think homeless people are the ones who go hungry but it's not just them.

    Great blog by the way. ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm sure knowing about depachika will come in handy one day!

    • kirin August 28, 2010 at 12:03 am #

      Oh~ Amanda!! I was about to confuse you with the first Amanda. haha ^ ^; I've got to check the link all the time, as I cannot see face online…

      Food Bank is such a nice idea. In Japan, we are not even allowed to take away food we left over at the restaurant we just finished eating. That's for hygienic reasons. Even if I insist that I take 100% responsibility in case I felt sick due to the food, they never let us bring back the left over. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

      That's true, it's not always homeless people. Today I hear there are some people who cannot pay for the school-provided lunch at public schools even though their parents have jobs.

  15. Jon August 27, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    I used to make mochi. It expires very quickly and we would rotate mochi every 3-4 days from stores and our japanese boss told us to just throw it away, even if there was no mold. But all the workers would just take it home (it's america after all). I don't think Japanese people have that mentality. If it's past the date, dispose of it.

    You can't think of it that way. There are other problems to just giving away "old" food to people. A worker can throw it away but a worker cannot give it to other people. That person has to go and get it on their own. Bakeries throw food away every day, i know some people who will go to bakeries at the end of the day to get bread or donut.

    I think something that is more concerning is that many people of this generation will lack necessary cooking skills and will rely on depachika for the rest of their life for food. Also concerning is that the wife is expected to always cook for their husband…but what happens to the womans free time?

    • kirin August 28, 2010 at 12:13 am #

      I think most of working women in Japan, especially who live in a city area, are more likely to rely on depachika foods or eating out rather than cooking at home. It's because the workload is not small enough to allow her to finish by 5pm. Basically we are too busy to cook at home. At the same time, it's not affordable to hire a housemaid in Japan. Even if husbands help housework, he is also busy at work. Both of them have very limited free time.

      Thus, eating outside or bento from depachika is handy and that's one of the ways to make our busy life yet compatible with some extra free time, I guess.

      I'd bring back the expired mochi, too if I were working for the place. In Japan, expire date is set rather earlier than it really get rotten, only to be safer. But once foods that have only a few days before the expire date, they get discounted. I like to shop those because I know they are still good, and even no problem after the expire date. :p

  16. Cath August 28, 2010 at 4:30 am #

    A lot of friends keep insisting it’s too expensive to have a holiday in Japan… they should check out this alternative meal option. My hubby and I would purchase this and bring back to our apartment to eat… or perhaps for lunch, have them at a park. n_n

    • kirin August 29, 2010 at 11:08 am #

      Good idea. You can even get them discounted if you skip golden hour like 6 or 7pm. Lunch is usually reasonable in Japan. Same menu costs different between lunch time and dinner time.

  17. kari August 28, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    i really like the bentos from depachika! they are so good and much nicer than combini ones!!

    but yeah, i agree about the overtime mentality… it sucks! it is saturday night and i am still home because my boyfriend is still at work! argh!!!

    • kirin August 29, 2010 at 11:11 am #

      Yes, depachika bentos are much nicer than combini ones, but I was shocked when I knew that some depachika bentos also contained preserving agent or artificial color, which makes no difference between combini bentos after all. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

  18. Lore September 1, 2010 at 10:39 am #

    oooooo after see that I feel so hungry!!!! and still missing 3 hours before I take the lunch.
    I would like in my city there was a depachika, well there's a shop where sell some food ready for be eaten but I don't like who it taste

    • kirin September 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm #

      It looks like a big scaled pre-fixed food market like depachika is not that popular overseas. I think I got used to convenient Tokyo life too much. ^ ^;

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