Tomiya Is A Tiny Japanese Grocery Heaven

Walking down 53rd Street recently I passed a tiny hole in the wall, a barely signed new space that for some reason caught my eye. Turns out it was Tomiya, a tiny grocery selling authentic Japanese sundries, treats, snacks, and…drum roll…a small assortment of prepared foods priced in ML range. I’m pretty sure this place is the real deal because the only things I could read in there were the helpful handwritten signs posted around the place to help us Americans navigate. See what I’m talking about after the jump…

When you first walk in, you are greeted by the friendly cashier and immediately notice the refrigerated case filled with ready-to-eat goodies.

The place is tiny, there’s only one aisle of groceries and a small freezer section in the back. There are helpful signs strewn about for people who don’t read Japanese, such as this one:

…and to indicate special deals, like this:

After a little exploration, I chose a bento box from the cold case, which they heated up for me: “Takana fried rice with croquette” ($7.59). I also couldn’t resist grabbing a Spicy Cod Roe onigiri for an extra $2.25.

Now I’ve never had any of this before so please forgive me if I have no idea what I’m talking about, but this was really really good. The box came with a generous serving of fried rice, topped with two little shrimp, a big potato croquette, and a sausage link on the side. A cursory Googling of ‘Takana’ told me that it is a Japanese vegetable that is typically pickled, which explains the flavor explosion of the fried rice. This was different than your typical affair, it was full of bits of crunchy, pickly veggies, scallions, egg, ginger (I think), and something spicy. If you’re into kimchee, try this.

The croquette was a patty of mashed potato and corn, fried with a light panko breading. It came with some sort of dipping sauce that was a little reminiscent of A1 to me, in a good way. The sausage was a slightly sweet, greasy hot dog (it probably has a name, please fill me in in the comments), also in a good way, which added a little something meaty to the meal.

By the time I got around to the onigiri, which was pretty standard (tasty, but nothing to write home about) I was totally stuffed. I will definitely be back here to try some of their other bento offerings as well as to spice up my pantry with some Asian goodies.

The + (what someone who likes this place would say):

  • What a little hidden gem! A great addition to the neighborhood.
  • This is really awesome fried rice.
  • The people are so friendly, I really feel like my business is appreciated.
  • I can’t read anything in here, this must be the real deal.

The – (what someone who doesn’t like this place would say):

  • Katagiri is right up the street and is at least 5x the size.
  • The ready to eat food selection is pretty limited.
  • I can’t read anything in here. Why should I shop here?

Tomiya, 239 E. 53rd St. (btw 3+2nd), (212) 510-7311


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