My friend Kayoko and her partner Yoko launched a couple of years ago Umami Mart, a foodie-oriented store focusing on Japanese products and other fine barware, glassware and kitchen gadgets. I finally stopped by their downtown Oakland shop this weekend and was very pleased with what I saw.
Inside the shop, they have a carefully curated selection of kitchen and foodie items, from beautiful Japanese paring knives to complete sets of bar glassware. I was impressed with the very reasonable pricepoint on the products, as well as their aesthetic appeal. I only bought a large Japanese mortar and pestle (a steal at $20), but once I get my holiday gift list in order I'm sure I'll be back for more.
Kayoko and Yoko were very helpful in explaining the different Japanese items, not all of which were obvious to me. If I never need to make my own Japanese pickles, I know where to go!
In front of the store, they cleverly put out a small table selling delicious snacks to draw in people. The day I was there they were serving yummy Asian fusion tostadas, one with Japanese peppers and the other with shredded pork. A steal at $5 for two!
Their strategy was clearly working from the numbers of folks gathered out there.
Definitely an asset to the nabe and a unique vendor, I hope that Umami Mart sticks around for a long time.
Umami Mart is located at 815 Broadway, in Old Town, Oakland, California. You can also shop online on their website.