Isetan B1 near Shinjuku station
The Japanese love for food is pretty apparent when you walk along their streets and everywhere you go, there’s quality food. With such a familiar scene replicated in all departmental stores, the first thing that I usually do is to visit its energetic food hall at the basement. I would say that a visit to these uniquely Japanese food hall is mandatory as you couldn’t get to witness such a vibrant scene anywhere else in Asia, not even in HK or SG. You would usually be able to find bento sets or hot food, French patisserie and refined Japanese sweets in every food hall. The outstanding thing is that everything is so elegantly presented and wrapped even though they are just meant for takeaway that it’s difficult to leave empty handed.
Well, out of the many departmental stores that I have visited such as OIOI, Daimaru, Takashimaya, KITTE, Mistukoshi, my favourite would be none other than Isetan. It is by far the largest food hall that I’ve been to and it took me 2h to scrutinise and decide on what I want. It’s not easy as everything looks so delicious and irresistible. Nicely divided into three huge sections, my favourite two are the polished Japanese sweets and exquisite French Patisserie. Out of the many patisserie shops, I decided on Henri Charpentier which has made big news as it opened its first overseas branch in Singapore. Cakes were priced at 540 yen each except for the Christmasy Noel that is slightly more expensive at about 900 yen. Comparing it to the prices in sg and due to the advantage in the exchange rate, these cakes are priced about 20% lower in Japan and that felt really quite a steal for such quality cakes.
So, never miss the food hall in a departmental store in Japan as that really is one of the must-visits, especially so if you are foodie.