Thursday, October 6, 2011

Destination JS: A Conbini-ent Truth

Dainobu's Authentic Japanese Grocery Experience In Midtown East

Destination JS explores the sites, shops, and eateries surrounding Japan Society.

One of the many things I miss about living in Japan is being near the convenience stores -- conbini -- that lined almost every street sometimes right next to each other. Whether it’s to stock up on a wide range of drinks, gorge on inexpensive and delicious bento, or do some minor grocery shopping, conbini are indeed the greatest convenience.

Fortunately for those with a hunger for the genuine Japanese conbini experience, Dainobu on 129 East 47th Street between Lexington and Third Avenue is only a short walk from Japan Society.

From beneath a striking orange and white awning, Dainobu’s bright and colorful interior invites passersby to either sensory overload or a nostalgia trip. Aisles of wet and dry goods provide even the most discerning Japanese food shopper with just about anything they need.

Dainobo also serves as a lunch spot for Midtown Manhattan's working urbanites. Visitors crowd around the large and varied selection of bento boxes and sushi rolls, while some wait in the back for a hot bowl of ramen, udon, curry, and much more. These authentic meals are less than $10, allowing satisfied customers to make off with authentic Japanese fare like bandits.

A place like Dainobu would not be complete without all the unique baked goods, such as the ever-popular imported melon bread. I was ecstatic to see my favorite Ginza Kimuraya steam cake. Those with Pocky on their mind may be more inclined towards the snack section, where all sorts of chocolates, gummies, potato chips, and other interesting products await.

Dainobu stems from several generations of grocery store owners, and the current head, Yasuaki Dainobu, expanded into New York in 2008. Meanwhile, the company has properties other than supermarkets, ranging from coin laundromats, floral shops, and internet cafés in the prefecture of Kumamoto where it all began.

After getting a fill of Japanese culture at Japan Society, Dainobu is a one stop shop for Japanese treats and staples that fill the stomach.

--Sean Tomizawa 

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