Monday, October 23, 2006

I Want My Uwajimaya!

Kinda like that old saying “I want my MTV”. I figure if I get enough people to chant this on a regular basis, that this wonderful Pacific Northwest company will clone its stores and pop up all over the US. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

What is an Uwajimaya, you ask? Just the best Asian goods/grocery market I have ever seen. Awe-inspiring on the first visit. I spent over 2 hours at the Seattle store on a recent trip. First, wandering through the home goods and gift section, where they carry beautiful serving pieces, dinnerware, cooking vessels, utensils and paraphernalia. Then on to the food court, where a dozen purveyors offer up great Asian fare for the starving masses. Then into the main part of the store, where we wandered aisles, oohing and ahhing, and questioning the origin and use of multiple ingredients. Then back through the store again to make a few purchases.

Coming from the Bay Area, where there is a huge Asian population and a wealth of Asian markets, I find it difficult to shop, only because each market caters only to a few cuisines. Uwajimaya is home to products from Japan, China, Thailand, India, Vietnam, Korea, and more, as well as having traditional American grocery items. Having been in business for over 40 years, there are three Uwajimaya locations. So if you are lucky enough to live in Seattle, Bellevue, or Beaverton, you can visit whenever you want, shopping, eating, or taking a cooking class (Sushi, Singapore Fusion Cuisine, Entertaining Asian-style, Dim Sum, and more). If, like me, you are on a 4-day whirlwind book tour to Seattle and already had to pay for excess weight on your baggage, all you can do is wander and drool. Well, not quite. I was able to try a few things at the food court and buy some wonderful sushi-makings for an early supper prior to an event. But it all left me wanting for more.

Hence, my new mantra: I want my Uwajimaya!

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