Shopping at Tokyo Food Show, Japan.
Locale: Beneath Shibuya Station, 2-24-1 Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tel. 03 3477 3111
Trivia: Many Japanese department stores offer an entire floor dedicated to food. Often located in basements, these markets are colloquially named depachika, taken from combining department store (depāto) and basement (chika). Tokyu Food Show is two city blocks in size, with plenty of treats for everyone.
Atmosphere: TFS is the market I stop at every day when I am in Tokyo. Unlike many markets in Asia, Tokyu Food Show is laid out like the cosmetics floor at Saks Fifth Avenue; it’s very easy to navigate. The place is filled with locals, all shopping on the way home or grabbing a bite for lunch or dinner. The staff is helpful, and getting lost in TFS is the best advice I can give you. It’s a blast.
People-watching: The Japanese work ethic is hard-core, and many businessmen and women slave away well into the evening. The market caters to those on the go, serving up bento boxes and takeaway noodle dishes of every type of Japanese cookery. And I mean everything. If it can be eaten in Japan, it can be found at TFS in both raw and cooked formats.
Breaking the rules: Eating local fare is typically the best route to take at markets. However, the Tokyu Food Show offers a wide variety of exotic gourmet foods from around the globe. Check out the Belgian beer stalls, Vietnamese spring roll stands, French fromageries and even stellar Indian curry shops.
Eccentricities: As a culture, the Japanese have earned a reputation for envelope-pushing, often wacky experimentation when it comes to food. Expect to see square melons priced at $200, 80 types of seaweed salad, sweet French wine grapes and single, perfect mangoes from teeny farms halfway across the world selling for $50 apiece.